As a composer today, you have to wear a lot of different hats. You usually have to practice a fairly wide set of skills, from composition, to orchestration, mixing, making realistic mockups, social media, networking, and so on. On top of this, you’re usually required to dive into a world of confusing technology, computers, and digital tools that you’ve never seen before. On top of this, the infinite ocean of new plugins and libraries makes it incredibly easy to do nothing else than playing around with toys. Mix some technical issues into the mix, those 10 trailer tracks you’d like to finish and submit to a library, and that short YouTube film score you managed to land – and you got yourself a challenging soup of things that might make you feel confused, exhausted and unproductive. In this article, I’m going to talk about some of my most important tips for being more productive and structured as a composer, enhancing your workflow, your results, energy and creativity. Hopefully these tips can help you get more done in less time, move forward at a steady pace, and make you feel like you’re actually getting somewhere.
Find your most productive time of the day
Not paying attention to when I was the most productive, was a mistake I made a lot in the beginning. I was trying to get hours of work in the studio, but I just couldn’t seem to get things done the way I wanted to, or as quick as I wanted to. It turned out that I was constantly trying to work during the times I thought I was supposed to (Like first thing in the morning) – regardless if that was my actual time of highest productivity. Later, when I started experiment with my work times, my productivity skyrocketed. I don’t currently have a set time I use to work with music, but what I have implemented into my routine is to listen to my body and mind, and find out when my prime time of the day is. This might depend on where I live too, but sometimes I find myself work extremely well late at night, while other times I am too tired and mentally exhausted by the end of a day to be able to work well enough, and rather prefer the morning. Experiment and find out when you’re in your zone, be it late at night, in the afternoon, or first thing in the morning. Then base your music work schedule around that.
Set specific goals
This is a big one for me. In the beginning, I felt I was not moving forward as fast as I wanted, and that I didn’t get the amount of work done that I had in mind. I later realized that this was because I didn’t set specific enough goals. Cause when you’re making music, there are a lot of ways to get lost, to sit and noodle around, and in any way be “busy” instead of “productive”. What helped me a lot though, was to write down specific goals for the week, and for the day. Things changed when I started using a technique I learned from Tim Ferriss, writing down 3 of the most crucial things to execute that day – and sticking to it. This could be “finish the intro of X”, or “export stems for track X, Y and Z”, and “finish and send first demo sketch for score X”. My productivity skyrocketed, simply because I wrote down the super specific steps towards my goal, and attacked them one by one, day after day. I might have limited the things I did during the day to 3 rather than 100, but I moved forward at a much higher pace. Try this out. Before you go to bed, write down 3 things that you want to accomplish the next day. Or even better, write down the ONE thing that you can do the following day, that will move your work and career a little step forward, and make all the things that you could do easier or unnecessary. Then focus on that 100% the next day, and complete this task. Is the task completed and you have several hours free? Then you got the perfect possibility to just noodle around, get lost, and experiment in the studio again (as this is a very important part of being a musician/composer too, in my opinion). But if you only do this without any clear goals and checkpoints, you might find yourself moving forward much more s