A quick Google search defines productivity as ‘the state of being productive’ and ‘the effectiveness of productive effort, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input’.
When thinking about my own professional practice, to me ‘productivity’ means:
- Making the most of my time
- Getting the best out of my equipment and resources
- Maximising the effectiveness of my output
- Prioritising tasks, projects and goals
- Learning from each project I undertake
The Importance of Planning and Preparation
Planning and preparation are key to staying productive and focussed, particularly when you are self employed. In an ideal world we would all be productive all of the time, but that is simply not possible so having techniques to get past this mindset can be invaluable. Here are a few approaches to planning and preparation that I have found useful. I set targets with appropriate timescales to stay on track, this means defined short term targets on a daily, weekly or fortnightly basis and holistic aims for the mid and longer term. I also like to keep my studio environment clean, tidy and clutter free, and where possible have my equipment setup ready to go when inspiration strikes.
Project Management and Tracking
When self employed it is essential to manage all aspects of a project properly from administration of contracts, invoices and emails through to creative tasks including composing, mixing and mastering. I use a number of tools to track my projects and manage to-do lists, here are my go-tos:
OmniFocus – I use OmniFocus to keep an overview of all my projects, tasks and their current status. OmniFocus can be as simple or as complex as you like and how you manage your projects in the software is very flexible. Key features of OmniFocus include the scheduling of repeated tasks (such as hard drive backups or weekly website checks), the review function which allows you to evaluate each project on a pre-set timescale, and the inbox function which allows you to ‘dump’ tasks that you can return to and schedule at a more suitable time.
Apple Notes – I love the simplicity of Apple Notes for saving ideas, drafting articles and making project notes and the synchronisation between the iPhone and MacBook means I always have my information available.
Microsoft Excel – when working on projects such as library music albums that require a large number of tracks with different edits and stems I create a grid so I can see a quick overview of what I still need to complete. I can also keep basis notes here such as the progress of the track (demo, submitted, approved, changes required etc).
Notepads – sometimes nothing beats scribbling down ideas in a notepad or crossing completed tasks off a to-do list with an actual real life pen! Notepads are also a great way to start off the creative process when generating ideas for blog articles, song titles, album concepts and sample packs while also making notes for changes during playbacks of my tracks.
Getting Stuff Done – Deadlines
Setting targets is a powerful motivator, but working with deadlines can be a surefire way of getting a project over the line. This may be a client set deadline or one which you have self-imposed. It is important when setting self imposed deadlines to challenge yourself while remaining realistic. The reality of self-imposed deadlines is that they can be easy to dismiss, but for royalty based income such as sample packs and library music this means that the sooner the work is completed, the sooner it can be released and potentially making you money.
Reflective practice is a concept that has been present throughout my education, from evaluating science experiments at school to writing composition project reports at University. It wasn’t however until I studied critical reflection in further depth at Masters level that I truly embraced the value of reflection and how to make the most of this skill. For me, reflection in relation to productivity and my music career involves asking myself questions such as:
- Could I have communicated with the client differently to improve the workflow and better understand the project requirements?
- Did I track and manage the project as smoothly as I could?
- Are there any new skills I could learn to help with similar projects moving forward?
- Are there any sounds in this project I’d like to save as presets to use again?
Ready for part 2? Get it here.
I hope this article gives you some ideas to consider with regards to your own career. If you would like to read more of my articles visit www.theaudiotapes.com and you can contact me via email email@example.com. You can find me on Twitter @MDennyMusic or visit my website at www.michaeldennymusic.com.
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- Productivity Tips For Your Music Projects – Part 2 - August 14, 2018
- Productivity Tips For Your Music Projects – Part 1 - August 7, 2018
- Part 2: Songwriting and Composition Techniques - May 17, 2018