If you're reading this, odds are you want more out of your music career and your life. That's awesome!
However, as you are about to learn, productivity isn't just about doing more. In fact, it actually means doing fewer things really well.
If you want to be more effective, and not just more efficient – there is a difference – here are several tips you can follow to boost your productivity as a musician.
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Schedule A Consistent Time For Creativity
As artists, we tend to wait for inspiration to happen. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. We all know what it feels like to suddenly get a “deposit” as if out of nowhere. Then, we drop everything we're doing to go and follow that inspiration to its logical end. Oftentimes, it results in a new song.
But if you've ever taken music lessons before, you probably remember what it felt like to keep your weekly commitment. If you wanted to make progress, you had to practice what your teacher assigned to you, so you'd work extra hard to make sure you understood the concept, the piece, the chord progression, or whatever your teacher was sharing with you that week.
That layer of accountability tends to go away when you stop taking lessons. It's only human nature to start slacking, and to stop preparing for those weekly sessions. Plus, you no longer have a specific time set aside for demonstrating what you learned.
If you want to be more productive as a musician, I would encourage you to start scheduling a consistent time for creativity. It doesn't matter if it's 10 minutes a day or 10 hours a day; it should be a commitment you can stick with over the long term.
This approach to creativity and creative songwriting isn't terribly romantic, but you might be surprised at the results. Consider this quote by W. Somerset Maugham:
I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp.
So create only when inspiration strikes; just make sure to arrange your life so that inspiration strikes at a consistent time every day or every week.
Simplify Your Music Career & Life
How many social media profiles do you have? How about email addresses? Do you have a ton of side projects that you're putting 10 to 20 minutes a day into? Is your personal office an utter mess?
I know that simplify doesn't really sound like an action word, but it is. Take a look at this quote by Steve Jobs:
Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
What Jobs was saying was that you can't move mountains without focus. When your life is complicated, your attention is spread out amongst a variety of different activities. You're never really giving the most important things in your life the time or attention they deserve.
It might seem like a good idea to increase your online presence by joining as many social media sites as you can. It might seem like a good idea to keep side projects going just in case your main one fails.
However, realistically, a person can only do two or three things really well at any given time. If you're trying to do more than that, you may not be giving your main projects a fair chance at success.
So, what two or three things will you choose to focus on? How will you simplify your music career?
Prioritize The Most Important Things
Many of us create to-do lists to manage our daily and weekly activities. This is a great practice to get into, but the main problem with to-do lists is that most people don't organize them by order of importance. If you want to make sure that the most important things on your list get done, you have to identify your highest priorities.
As author Stephen Covey said:
The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
In other words, you need to put first things first, whether it's literally putting the most important things in your calendar first, or giving yourself reminders to focus on and think about your high priority activities.
Productivity isn't just about getting more done; it's about making sure that you're completing the things that are most important to you. Do you know what your goals are? Do you have clear objectives outlined for yourself? If not, you may want to go back to the drawing board to figure out what matters to you again.
Allow For Healthy Distractions
You have to remember that although energy and willpower are renewable resources, you only have a limited amount on any given day. If you're just going to be productive for the sake of being productive, at some point you will burn out. It doesn't matter how inspired you were when you first began; if you aren't sure why you're doing what you're doing, you will eventually give up on your new habits.
Here are some healthy distractions to indulge in from time to time:
- Meditation: closing your eyes and deep breathing for 15 to 20 minutes can restore your energy. It is also known to help with making connections between your right brain and left brain.
- Sketching: you don't even have to be good at drawing. Sketching will simply put you in a different state of mind, and give you a bit of a mental break.
- Walking: some of the most successful people you know (including Steve Jobs) were known to take long walks on a regular basis. Exercise is good for your overall health too.
Give yourself time to learn new habits. If possible, focus on one at a time. You can't do a complete overhaul of your life overnight. Set you sights on simple things you can do today to make your life and music career better a little bit at a time.