With how much technology has revolutionized the way we create things by making everything faster, stronger, and overall, better; you would probably assume that our productivity has also gotten significantly better. Well, my friend, that is where you’re wrong.
1. Quantity, Not Quality
When you first start out producing music, you really aren’t too worried about quality. You know that you’re new and it takes practice + time to = hit track.
This is a totally fine philosophy to follow, however, as you get better you start leaning more toward creating a more quality sounding track.
Again, this is a good philosophy to follow, but then you end up sacrificing time, and there is no greater resource we have as humans than our own time.
Think about it, if you had a product that you could order from Walmart to be delivered at your door in 7-10 business days for $150, but then Amazon offered the same product for $160 to be delivered at your door in 2 days, which would you choose?
Obviously Amazon, because you know that those 5 – 8 days are more valuable to you than the $10.
Anyone can make $10 by selling a couple of things around their house.
If you know how valuable your time is, then why would you waste 2 months of your life trying to perfect 1 single track.
Instead, you can spend the same amount of time, create 20 tracks and that last 20th track is just as good of quality as the first you spent 2 months on.
Not only do you get the same quality, but you also learned a lot more writing 20 different tracks.
There’s probably at least 2 – 5 of those 20 tracks that are still pretty good quality (maybe not as good as the 20th, but still pretty good). Plus, you can scrap the other projects and create 1 track out of those scraps and use everything you learned to make it sound just as good as that 20th track.
You see, there’s way more value provided in trying to write as many tracks as possible, while them not always being the best quality.
You’re learning more, developing more and that quality will always follow with the quantity.
So what exactly should you do to start writing more quantity track? Well, write shorter tracks. Try to aim for a minimum minute mark of 2:00 and a max of 2:50.
As your quality starts to increase, create longer tracks. Don’t forget; you need to be going through each process to make sure you’re quality follows, don’t just write the track, mix it as well.
2. File Organization
File organization is the biggest flaw I see in so many producers that I talk to, or have even worked with.
There have been times where someone near me has wanted to collaborate on a track and so I say “sure!”
They invite me over, open up their blank DAW, and immediately start skimming through samples, or patches for leads.
So far so great… right? No. They have an endless sample library consisting of kicks, claps, snares, patch leads, bass patches, hats, risers, sweeps, and everything under the sun.
Nothing is set in folders, it’s all in one chaotic folder that is MAYBE organized in alphabetical order.
If this is you, you might be saying to yourself, “well yeah why does that matter?” I’ll tell you why it matters.
- If you’re working on a collaboration, nothing sucks the life out of creativity than having to sift through all of the bullshit in someones unorganized folder of 808 kicks, 808 snares, bass growls and Hardstyle screeches, when you’re just trying to write a Progressive House track. You get stuck spending most of your collab session just trying to find whatever sample or sound it is you’re trying to find.
- When you’re trying to get yourself in that creative groove of running through a track, nothing slows this down more than unorganization. Running through endless files mixed with samples and presets will force you to stop click on it, preview it, decide yes or no, close it, then move to the next sample.
Why have a computer with the capability to organize everything into folders and sub-folders, if you won’t even utilize that to get the most efficiency out of your sessions.
I recommend creating a folder for your “Samples” and then creating sub-folders within that for your “kicks,” “claps,” “snares,” ”hats,” so on and so forth.
I’m also a firm believer in auditing this file every week with whatever new samples or presets you’ve gotten over the last week. Also, check to see if there’s anything else you can do to improve this filing to make your sessions quicker.
A system of organized files is key to getting your creativity out as quickly as possible.
Templates, like a structured filing system, is key to your workflow process. Let’s say you have 5 GO-TO VSTs or plugins that you use in damn near every track, you even have a specific presets you like or always seem to duplicate the same settings in every track.
Why don’t we do some math real quick.
It takes you about 3 seconds to load each of the 5 VSTs/plugins into your DAW = 15 seconds
3 of these are plugins and it takes about 1 minute to create the sound you’re going for = 3 minutes
2 of these are VSTs, but you don’t have a preset you’re thinking of so you start sound designing which takes about 10 minutes for each sound = 20 minutes
Total time wasted = 23:15
Now if you spent that same amount of time to create a template with all of these settings in place, you would be dominating your sessions, just with that 1 fix.
If it takes you 4 hours to write an entire song from start to finish, within 12 individual track sessions you would have written an entire track just from the 23 minutes you saved by creating a template.
There’s a reason why your DAW is able to create templates, and it’s for this very reason. Templates are just like file organization where you want to go back into them each week and figure out what slowed you down.
Analyze and figure out how you can improve your template to save you even more minutes, because with producing, every second counts.
One of the most underwhelming system management processes that just about everyone overlooks are checklists.
At first hand, these seem mundane, boring, or you may even say “nahhh, that doesn’t work for me.” However, there’s more to checklists than may seem.
Checklists are a way for you to get things off your mind.
Have you ever tried to go to sleep but something was on your mind that you needed to do? You tossed and turned for hours, teetering on the edge of deep sleep and being wide awake.
You can’t seem to get that one thing off your mind until you either wait long enough for exhaustion to take you over, or you get up and do the damn thing.
Have you ever tried writing that thing down and then just going to bed?
Checklists play a vital role in productivity.
It’s important to take tasks that need to be done, off your mind so that you can focus 100% of your mental focus and energy on what exactly it is you’re trying to do.
The most common reason I find that producers can’t seem to get into a “creative groove,” is because they have other things on their mind that is directly blocking that creative element that they’re striving for.
What I recommend you do as a producer is to create a monthly/weekly/daily checklist.
These can consist of everything you need to do, or just for producing; though I recommend to stay within the everything you need to do so as to clear your mind completely.
Update this checklist daily with the tasks you need to complete whether it’s sound design, writing a track, mixing, mastering etc.
Get it off your mind and on paper so you know exactly what you need to do to get done each week and every day.
5. Educate Yourself
You might be looking at the title above and think, “What the hell does education have to do with productivity?”
When it comes to figuring out how to be productive or how to better manage your time, it’s all about education. Reading books about this subject is the only way you can pick and choose exactly what works for you.
Learn, test, implement, and execute what you learn.
This is the only way that you can dominate time management and increase your overall productivity.
So where should you start?
- Getting Things Done the Art of Stress-free Productivity by David Allen
- This is currently the book that I’m reading and man has it transformed my time management and productivity! Guess what followed with that… my creativity! This book is your bible to being productive, created the BEST checklist system that will improve your day to day life, ensuring that you feel more comfortable and in control of the chaos in day-to-day life!
- The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch
- If you’ve never heard of the 80/20 principle, well then get ready to have your mind blown! The 80/20 principle is all about reviewing your system and everything you do and understanding that 80% of what you do only accounts for 20% of your wealth or improvement. While 20% of what you do accounts for 80% of your wealth or improvement. Sounds hard to believe but the math adds up, trust me!
- The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
- Looking to get out of the day-to-day grind of a job? What to free up the time you spend working, create passive income, and do what you want to do, when you want to do it? Then The 4-Hour Work Week is the exact book for you! Tim Ferris takes you through step-by-step on how to implement a system that can get you to work from home, on the road, or wherever it is you are, even if you have the average office job!
When it comes to time management and productivity, there’s one word that comes to mind, discipline. If you aren’t disciplined enough to create a system that works for you, both one for you to physically bust out and get your creativity on paper, and one for your mind to stay focused 100% on whatever it is you’re doing, you’re sure to fall flat on your face.
Take the time to research, learn, and implement a new system, help yourself and your mind. I guarantee if you put a bulletproof system in place for producing, you’ll start creating twice the amount of tracks, in half the time. With that, your quality will follow!
Interested in having your own automated task list? Click the link below to signup for my newsletter and you’ll get a FREE copy of my automated task list, made with Google Sheets, that I use everyday!
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