Maintaining a regular practice and release schedule can be difficult for musicians whose craft is not their primary source of income. Jobs, chores, errands, and other responsibilities can make it difficult to put an extensive amount of time into music. For this reason, busy artists have to be strategic about their productivity. In this article, we want to offer practical advice on being more productive as a musician when life gets busy.
What does it mean to be productive as an artist?
According to Merriam-Webster, the term productive describes “having the quality or power of producing especially in abundance.” In a creative context, however, productivity is not only about producing and being able to present tangible results. Other factors essential to your growth as an artist include education and practice; seeking inspiration; connecting with other musicians; marketing your music; and getting enough rest to not burn out or get trapped in making music that sounds overly repetitive.
5 productivity tips for artists
When it comes to productivity, artists can benefit from a few helpful tips. This includes making time for music, deciding what tasks to work on and prioritize, and finding ways to stay focused that work for you and match your needs. Artists can also look into collaborating with others and intentionally taking prolonged breaks to avoid burning out.
1. Making time for music
The first step in improving your productivity is setting aside dedicated blocks of time to focus solely on your craft. This starts with creating a schedule that works for you rather than against you and committing to it. While for some people, routines can be helpful (such as working on music every Saturday evening), others might benefit more from flexibility (such as working on music every weekend.)
Regardless of what you prefer, the most important thing is to consistently make time for your music. This includes making sure that no other urgent chores or errands distract you from focusing on your art.
2. Deciding what to work on and prioritizing
Once you’ve freed up your schedule, you should decide what exactly you want to work on. While making time for your music is important, you also want to avoid sitting in front of your software, equipment, or instruments and not knowing where to start.
For this reason, you should write down all relevant tasks and choose a few that you want to focus on. Do you want to work on a new track, mix and master your most recent production, market your new release, or maybe set up an artist page? Setting specific goals will help you feel more accomplished at the end of the day, which creates a positive feedback loop.
If you have a limited amount of time, you should also decide what matters the most and what doesn’t. The 80/20 rule, which centers on the notion that 80% of all results are generated by 20% of actions, comes in handy here. This also shows that focusing too strongly on the details early on will only keep you stuck.
For example, if you’re a music producer or beatmaker, it does not make much sense to focus on finding the perfect kick, snare, or hi-hat right away as this may keep you preoccupied with singular elements. Instead, you could use placeholders, focus on the overall structure of your track first, and then look into the details.
3. Finding ways to focus on your tasks
Thanks to social media and the internet as a whole, it is easy to get distracted and end up procrastinating on your tasks. Focusing can be challenging for anyone, but it can be especially impactful for people who struggle with attention-related disorders. While turning off your notifications on your phone and computer or keeping your workstation clean and organized can already help a lot, these commonly mentioned methods alone don’t work for everyone.
We recommend taking regular breaks and allowing yourself to switch between tasks when one starts feeling too tedious. If you start getting bored of your track, you can switch over to doing some social media marketing until you feel like working on music again. It can also be helpful to start looking at a major task through a lens of categories. For example, beats consist of various elements, such as the sound selection, chords, melodies, 808s/basslines, drums, and percussions, that can be tackled individually.
4. Take prolonged breaks
While this might sound counterintuitive, taking longer breaks can help a lot with productivity, especially when you already have a lot to do every day. Overworking yourself can easily lead to burning out and beginning to resent your art, which is why allowing yourself to rest and have fun is just as important as working on your goals.
In times during which our definition of productivity is so strongly tied to concrete results, long hours, and quick growth, it can be helpful to deconstruct your personal understanding of the term and quit rushing through your artistic journey.
5. Collaborating with others to create a sense of responsibility
Collaborating with other people is not only fun and exciting — it can also boost your productivity as an artist as it creates a sense of responsibility towards those you work with. Setting deadlines together and having others rely on you can positively contribute to your motivation. It can also help prevent creative blocks and further inspiration.
All You Need.
All in One Place.
Get tips on How to Succeed as an Artist, receive Music Distribution Discounts, and get the latest iMusician news sent straight to your inbox! Everything you need to grow your music career.