Many young producers sit in their studios for hours at time, but only get a little bit of actual work done in each session. They see how the pros can have extremely productive sessions almost effortlessly, and it can be discouraging, because it seems so natural for the pros.
The good news is that being productive is a skill that anyone can learn with some practice. In this article, I’ve compiled a list of tips that, if followed daily, will lead to greater productivity in your studio sessions.
Create a Daily Routine
Creating a daily routine might be the tip that can result in the biggest immediate improvement. When you create a routine schedule, your mind will automatically become ‘in the zone’ when it’s supposed to.
For example: You might wake up, hit the gym, eat breakfast, then hit the studio. If you do this every day, when you’re eating breakfast, your mind will subconsciously be ready to switch over to production mode without even trying, like muscle memory. When your brain already knows what’s next, it takes less effort to switch tasks.
Organize Your Folders
Organizing your folders will save you a ton of time when looking for files. When creating a project file, either name the track with something you can remember, or date the track. I prefer naming files with “YYYY-MM-DD”, like “2018-05-09”, so if I can remember around the timeframe that I created the project, I can open files from around that date to find the project that I’m looking for. Once I know the final name of the track, I change the file name to match the track name.
Some of your DAWs may already have a feature that helps organize your files. When opening a project in Cubase, if you hit F5, you can see all of the projects that you created, where you can give them descriptions, ratings, and new names all in one window.
Your best ideas always seem to come when you’re on the road. Make sure that you either have a pen and notebook with you at all times, or an easily accessible app on your phone.
Having a note taking app on your phone may be more convenient than paper since you’ll always have your phone with you anyway. For phones, I would recommend Evernote or Google Keep.
Your note taking strategy is completely up to you. You can add a note every time you hear a cool vocal sample that you want to use, you can hum a melody into the audio recorder, draw a drum break pattern, etc.
Leave Your Ideas Unfinished
When you’re in the groove and know where you want a track to end up, stop what you’re doing and call it a day. You can write a note or two down somewhere so you don’t forget when you start up the next day.
Stopping in the middle of a task means that when you sit down to produce the next day, you’ll already be back in the groove because you already know what you need to do to get the track done. You can then use that momentum to finish the task and start the next task the same day. Then when you know where that next idea is going to end up, stop and continue the next day.
Essentially, stopping mid-task will help create a cycle that keeps you out of a creative rut.
Create a Weekly Schedule
Creating a weekly schedule can help keep you focused on your goals and stay productive, even if you’re in a creative rut. We all experience short periods where, no matter what you do, you can’t think of any good ideas. Creating a weekly schedule can give you something to do that will contribute to future success, or might spark ideas for a new track.
For instance, your schedule could look like:
- Monday create 4 snare samples
- Tuesday create 4 melodies
- Wednesday create 4 bass patches
- Thursday create 5 lead synth patches, etc.
Taking short breaks during your studio session will help keep you from burning out. A quick 5 minute break every hour, or 15 minute break every other hour can reduce your stress and keep you from getting overwhelmed.
You could get a snack, take a walk, work out, talk to some producer friends etc. Whatever keeps gives you some time to get your energy back up and get back in the studio.
Take a Vacation
This tip kind of exands on the “Taking Notes” tip. When you travel, you experience all kinds cultures, art, and other things that you’ve maybe never experienced before. These experiences unleash a wave of creativity that will make your next production sessions super productive. There’s a theory out there that says that the new experiences are causing your brain to make connections that it’s never made before, which causes you to see the world slightly differently and make you more creative.
To capitalize on this further, take notes while you’re on vacation so you can pick up on those ideas immediately when you get back. Even if you bring a laptop with you on vacation, you’ll probably be out doing things and won’t be able to produce when you want to.
Increasing your productivity as an artist is something that you can improve with a little effort. Some of the things that you can do to improve your productivity are:
- Create a daily routine
- Organize your folders
- Take notes
- Leave your ideas unfinished
- Create a schedule
- Take breaks
- And take a vacation