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How To Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done for Your Music


If anyone knows about procrastination, it’s me. I can be the biggest procrastinator of them all.

Whether it’s noodling on my guitar, watching YouTube videos for “research,” or just scrolling social media. There’s always something to distract me.

But after more than 12 years as an active musician, I’ve finally figured out how to get more done for my music career. And now I make music every single day.

So here are the most helpful things I do to be more productive…

Use a Calendar

For years, I used a to-do list.

But when you have a long list of things you need/want to do, it’s overwhelming. Seeing all your tasks on one page makes you feel like you’ll never get all of it done, so why bother.

So when I started using a calendar instead, it was a game-changer.

Now any time I think of something I have to do for my music, I don’t open up my to-do list doc. I open up my calendar to find a day and time when I can do that thing.

Then it’s out of my brain and on my calendar. I’ll get a reminder to do it when the time comes.

This is how some of the most successful people operate.

New York Times best-selling author Kevin Kruse did some research, interviewing over 200 billionaires, entrepreneurs, and others.

“In all my research, there is one consistent theme that keeps coming up,” he writes. “Ultra-productive people don’t work from a to-do list, but they do live and work from their calendar.”

So throw away your to-do list and whip out your calendar.

Put Your Phone In Another Room

I’m writing this post on my porch. My phone is inside, on my desk. This is how it has to be if I want to get anything done.

Have you ever picked up your phone only to realize there’s nothing you actually wanted to use it for? Yeah, that happens if my phone is in my field of vision.

It’s sad but true.

My phone makes me more distracted, which makes me less productive. And that means I’m more likely to procrastinate.

Even Cal Newport, a New York Times best-selling author of seven books and a computer science professor at Georgetown University, says less technology is good for your productivity.

He encourages “digital minimalism.”

“Digital minimalism is a philosophy that helps you question what digital communication tools (and behaviors surrounding these tools) add the most value to your life,” he writes.

“It is motivated by the belief that intentionally and aggressively clearing away low-value digital noise, and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter, can significantly improve your life.

So when you’re working on music, only use the technology you need: just your recording equipment, no phone.

Putting your phone in another room while trying to be productive will do wonders for your music career.

Make Your Tasks Way Smaller

When you put a task on your calendar, make it way smaller than you think it should be.

Big tasks are overwhelming, which will give you a bad case of I’ll-do-it-tomorrow-ism.

Author Jon Acuff did a small study on setting goals involving his readers.

“The people with smaller goals were 63% more successful,” he writes in Forbes. “Go big might be a good slogan for a gym wall, but if you really want to win, go small.”

So what does “going small” look like?

Well, for example, you can plan to register one of your songs with a performance rights organization instead of your entire album.

Or you can record the lead vocals for your new song instead of trying to record every layer of the vocals.

Cut your tasks in half (and then in half again). Doing this will help you not get overwhelmed, therefore leading to less procrastination and productivity.

Only Do One Thing Today

Get this: it’s okay to do only one thing today for your music career if that’s all the time you have.

It’s like The Seinfeld Method of productivity, named after the practice Jerry Seinfeld uses in his comedy career.

“After a few days, you’ll have a chain,” Seinfeld told Lifehacker. “Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

Do one small thing every day. And don’t break the chain.

Once I got comfortable with this idea, the feeling of relief I got was amazing. I’m less overwhelmed. I procrastinate less.

And I actually get more done in the long run by doing less each day. How? Because I’m able to be more consistent.

Instead of trying to do a bunch of stuff until I burn out, I do smaller, more manageable things. And now I do music every day.

I procrastinate much less because my tasks are small, and I’m okay doing just one thing a day.

– – –

Caleb J. Murphy is a songwriter/producer in Austin, Tx. His music has been on NBC, NPR, and hundreds of clients have licensed his songs. He also made a free worksheet to help you get more done.


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About Audio Issues and Björgvin Benediktsson

At Audio Issues you’ll learn simple and practical audio production tips you can use right away to improve your music from your home recording studio.  Björgvin is the best-selling author of Step By Step Mixing and the founder of Audio Issues. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release.

We help home studio musicians and project studio producers make a greater musical impact in their lives by teaching them the skills needed to grow their hobbies and careers. We do this by offering simple and practical music production and success skills they can use right away to level themselves up – while rejecting negativity and gear-shaming from the industry. A rising tide floats all boats and the ocean is big enough for all of us to surf the sound waves.

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