7 Tips To Stop Procrastination As A Music Maker
Procrastination can feel like the enemy of productivity. We all know that and yet somehow we still succumb to it from time to time. Especially when we need to do specific tasks. But, why do we do it?
While some people might see procrastination as just being lazy or not being able to organise oneself, in reality it is neither of these. In fact, people that procrastinate are often able to work intensively for long stretches of time just before the deadline, which differs from being a ‘lazy person’. So the question remains. To bring some light to this question we need to look at its root.
The word procrastination is derived from the Latin verb procrastinare: to put off until tomorrow. But it is also derived from the ancient Greek word akrasia which means: doing something against our better judgement. So in reality procrastination is not specifically about the management of time but a way of responding to challenging tasks that trigger negative feelings in ourselves like boredom, anxiety, insecurity or frustration that position us against them. That’s why we delay those tasks, even when deep down we know they need to be done.
All these negative emotions are old friends in the world of music creation. Blank page syndrome, starting a new song when you haven’t finished previous projects, fear of rejection or a bad review, not feeling good enough for the job… These are only a few emotions that are frequently present in this business. The most creative people face insecurities that push them to ignore part of their job until a better time comes around or there is no more time in their hands. It can limit your full potential and block your career. That’s why we want to give you a list of 7 recommendations to help you stop procrastination.
1. Know Yourself
The first thing we need to do to avoid procrastination is to look at ourselves. What does the task at hand make you feel? Why are you putting it off? How is procrastination helping you to cope with this feeling? While these are hard questions to answer, getting them out of your system by writing them down or saying them out loud will help you recognise the problem and find solutions for it. But it can also make us feel anxious or bad about doing it. That’s why we need to jump to point number 2.
2. Be Kind To Yourself
You don’t need to be hard on yourself just because you know you are procrastinating. In fact, you need to do the opposite. Treat yourself with kindness, love and understanding, the same way you will do with a friend that is feeling down. Don’t be ashamed. You should be proud of having identified your tribulations, the reason behind your procrastination and everything you have accomplished on your journey. Now it’s time to take action.
3. The Bigger Picture
Maybe you need to finish that song on your hard drive to complete the album or fill out the form you’ve been avoiding to get the funding for your recording. Stepping back a bit and looking at why you need to do the task you are avoiding and focusing on the final objective will help you to jump into action. Getting it done will bring you closer to what you want to achieve.
4. Break It Down
Don’t try to do all the tasks at once. Sometimes we block because the thing we need to do feels too big to be accomplished in one go. Breaking it into smaller pieces will help to make it less intimidating and easier to complete. Divide the task into steps and do one at a time at the pace you feel comfortable. It’s frequently stated these days that multitasking is a myth. To do your best and deepest work focus on one task at a time.
5. Time Management Tools
There are plenty of apps and websites that will help you organise your day. To-Do Lists, calendars, Pomodoro apps, reminders or even just the classic pen and notebook… Whatever works for you.
While these are not essential to get through procrastination, once you set up your own system you can always rely on it to check your schedule, tasks to be completed, etc. The most important part is not to look at it as a constant reminder of uncompleted work. Keep it flexible and always keep the focus on what you want to achieve (look at point number 3).
6. Avoid Temptations
Nowadays most of the music work is done with a computer, tablet or phone at hand. Whether it is to record some ideas, produce or write songs or collaborate with others remotely, computers have turned into one of the main tools for music creation. Not only that but also the internet with almost infinite resources of information, virtual instruments, plug-ins and ways to collaborate with other artists around the world, it is a big part of our work in the music business.
But as we all know: “the Internet is dark and full of distractions”. It’s the black box of procrastination. There is nothing easier than opening a new tab on your browser, or your favourite social media app and getting lost scrolling or watching videos of cats.
Before this happens try to remove distractions while you are working. Put your phone away so it’s nowhere near, turn notifications off, put on ‘Do Not Disturb’ or turn your data or wifi off for whilst you work. Disconnecting for specific periods of time and placing obstacles between ourselves and our temptations (whatever they are) will help you get in the zone and get things done.
7. With A Little Help from My Friends
Finally, you might know all these things, put them into practice and need outside input to keep consistent and not lose focus. That’s ok, finding a coach, mentor or trustworthy friend to talk about your worries and blocks will allow you to see them through different lenses and encourage you to keep going. Look for people that have been in your shoes or with similar problems and ask for their opinions and help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, in fact, it will make the journey easier. And perhaps you can reciprocate. That could be today or further down the line as your career progresses.
We hope we have given you some guidance and ideas to increase your productivity by avoiding procrastination and feeling good about your work. Now, stop scrolling and go make some music! 😉
If you want to learn more about procrastination and why we fall for it, read this article from the New York Times and this article from Princeton University. If you’re looking for more advice on how to make it in the music industry check out our Top 3 Recommendations When Starting Your Music Career and watch our industry panel discuss different roles in the industry during Abbey Road Amplify 2022.