My wife was recently talking with a friend, and she was wondering how exactly I was able to get so much music done in the early parts of my career while also juggling a full-time job, a wife, and kids. I was putting out albums/EPs on a regular basis, doing the YouTube thing, and a bunch more.
And sheesh… I kind of don’t even know how I was able to do that. I’ve been doing music full-time for almost a year, and if I’m honest I have to admit that my time management has gotten worse. I thought that without having a 40-hour per week job I’d be able to get like 800 times more things done. But that did not happen at all. I feel like I’m still struggling to use my time as well as I did back then.
So I’m trying to figure all this out again. Time management is the key to getting things done. If you’re trying to get an album released, then you probably know what I mean and how I feel. There is so much to do, so many different parts, and like no time to do it all.
We’ve all got so much crap going on, but it’s no excuse for not accomplishing the things we want to get done. If you want it bad enough, you can find a way.
So what the heck. How do we even do this? Let me just give you a list of all the stuff that’s worked for me in the past. And hopefully I can heed my own advice going forward.
Deadlines beget deadlines. Trying to get an EP or album done? Go ahead and set your release day. Get it in your head. Get excited about it. Get SO excited about it that the idea of moving it back just bums you out. Now, use the deadline to figure out all the other deadlines that must be reached before that one. So, mastering has to be done by this time, which means mixing has to be done by this date, which means tracking needs to be done here… See? Work backwards. Get as detailed with deadlines as you can.
Get up freaking early. I know you don’t want to hear this. But you’ve got to at least give it a shot for a week or so. Get up earlier than normal and work on your songs. Maybe you can’t track or anything, but you can arrange, mix, or just plain plan out where you want things to go. For some of us, getting up early gives you the most consecutive time to work on your album. So take advantage of it. I used to get up at 5am, go to Starbucks to work on different music related things, and then go to work. Heck, I got up at 5am so I could write this blog and then work on music for the rest of the day. Getting up early rules.
Cut your losses. Another thing you probably don’t want to hear, but if your time is a precious commodity then you’re going to have to shave things off to be able to get things done. This might mean not having all the time in the world to tweak your mix to absolute perfection or spend all day getting that perfect take on guitar. Realize when you’re wasting time, and move on to the next thing.
Turn off your dang smartphone. Or the internet. Or whatever is causing you to waste most of your time. This is where I’m struggling the most right now. I could work on my album today… or I could watch Netflix and see how this season of Dexter ends. This kind of temptation is even worse now that I don’t have a boss. So figure out where your biggest distraction is coming from and get rid of it. Turn off your phone. Shut off the internet in your house completely. Whatever it is, get rid of it. At least for a little while.
Make sacrifices in other areas. I couldn’t cut time out of my work schedule (no matter how much I desperately wanted to), and I didn’t want to take time away from my wife and kids to work on music. So what other times are left? Well, there were the evenings after the kids went to bed. There were weekends, and early in the morning. But there are lots of other things vying for those time slots as well. And if you really want to get somewhere with this, you’re going to have to say no. You’re going to have to say no to hanging out with friends or a weekend getaway. This might seem a little harsh, but I’m assuming there are a lot of people out there who are like me and a really passionate about this. And following your passion and dream comes with sacrifice. And this is where that comes in.
Whew. Ok. I feel like I really wrote this for myself. What I really need right now is a kick in the ass to get things done. Maybe you did too. Let’s get some good stuff done this week!