Time management for musicians is a fundamentally important topic that needs to be addressed whenever there is a blockage in the workflow. If you’re not producing/releasing consistently, the problem might be solved with effective time management. What may sound like simple and self-evident things might amplify the amount of work you can get done if you follow the next steps. This article is about time management for musicians specifically, but it works in other areas of work too.
Having a to-do list is one thing but what really fuels your productivity is prioritizing your tasks. Here are 4 simple steps you can do to optimize your work flow:
Do the most challenging task first.
Though it may seem intimidating and the least fun of all your tasks, by finishing it first, all the rest of your tasks will seem like Childs’s play. It may seem more straightforward to start off with an easy task just to get into the workflow but that’s the first sign of procrastination. If you’ve ever had a to-do list with an item on it that you never actually crossed off because you didn’t feel like doing it – always finding an excuse not to do it, then you know how true this is.
Avoid distractions at all costs
When you are working on something that is “moving the needle” – something that is taking you towards your goals, whatever is taking your attention from it is a distraction. The way you’ll figure out your distractions is by observing your behavior and attention span when you are working: whatever takes your focus away from the task at hand – is the distraction. Maybe it is a notification on your phone. Maybe it is your mind that wanders and daydreams, or maybe it is your thirst for some social media scrolling or watching videos on YouTube. Whatever it is, recognize and identify the distraction, and work your way around it:
Promise yourself a reward after you’ve finished your task. it is scientifically proven that we humans get motivated when there is a reward. This simple mechanism of expecting a reward will give you a hit of dopamine – the feel-good chemical associated with motivation – and it will get you going. If you want to maximize your productivity, you can take this step to the next level:
Delay gratification. The most successful people in the world all share this common trait: they delay their gratification. It means that they motivate themselves by promising themselves a reward for completing a task. Instead of taking the reward after finishing, they convince themselves to do another task before rewarding themselves. This goes on and on, and the more you delay gratification, the more successful you will be. At least in terms of productivity.
What prioritizing essentially comes down to is figuring out the infamous 80/20 rule for your specific case: what is the most critical 20% of things you must do to reach 80% of the results? Find the answer to that, and you’re on the right track.