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Overcoming Overwhelm: 3 Ways To Focus On What Matters


Clarity. That’s one of the hardest things to find as a musician.

And not having clarity means it’s easy to lose focus on what matters to you.

And that leads to feeling overwhelmed.

I’ve faced this problem myself. So I want to share with you three ways to overcome overwhelm as a musician.

Do One Small Thing Today

This idea has changed my life, and I’m not exaggerating.

You only have so much time in a day, especially as a part-time musician. So you can’t do all the things every day. That will lead to complete overwhelm. Or you’ll end up shirking your responsibilities to make music.

So instead, pick one small thing you can do today for your music.

Because today is all you have. Stressing about tomorrow won’t do any good, and getting stuck in the past won’t move you forward.

It’s like in the movie What About Bob? when Dr. Marvin tells Bob Wiley to take “baby steps.” Lots of baby steps will get you to your destination.

Because it’s not about sprinting. It’s about your “average speed,” as James Clear writes.

“…It is all about average speed, not maximum speed,” Clear writes. “Daily failures are like red lights during a road trip. When you’re driving a car, you’ll come to a red light every now and then. But if you maintain a good average speed, you’ll always make it to your destination despite the stops and delays along the way.”

In other words, consistency. Consistent small steps are more effective than sporadic bursts of productivity.

So how do you be consistent and take small steps today?

When you’re choosing what to do today, make the task smaller than you think it needs to be.

Instead of trying to record a whole song today, just record the guitar.

Or instead of writing an entire song, just write the chorus if that’s all you have time for.

And notice how these tasks are centered around your output rather than the potential outcome?

“Output goals ensure you remain focused on being a consistent creator which increases the likelihood you become one,” says Josh Spector, marketer and writer.

You can’t control the outcome, but you can control what you do today.

Use a Calendar

The most productive people in the world use calendars and not to-do lists. Not only is this so true for me, but this is also what’s true for billionaires.

New York Times best-selling author Kevin Kruse knows a lot about time management and productivity. He’s done his research.

He interviewed over 200 successful people ‒ billionaires, entrepreneurs, athletes, and top-tier students.

“I always ask them to give me their best time management and productivity advice,” he writes. “And none of them have ever mentioned a to-do list.”

Instead, they use calendars.

So the next time you think of something you have to do for your music, don’t just throw it on your to-do list. Try to find a slot in your calendar and put it there.

This helps you to focus on what matters on any given day.

Know Your End Game

Before you figure out what to do today or what goals to set, you have to know where you’re going. You have to know your end game.

Where do you want your music career to end up? Knowing this informs what you do today.

So you have to discover what your ideal music career is.

Do you want to be a performing musician, or would you rather stay in your home studio and produce music?

Do you want to sell beats, or do you want to get into sync licensing?

Or do you want to mix and match a few of these things?

Before anything else, this is the journey you need to take. Try different things. See what you enjoy most that also has a viable way of making money.

Once you find your end game, let that direct what you put on your calendar. Your end game tells you what you can do today for your music career.

– – –

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 find focus.


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About me

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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