Time Mastery for Musicians

Boost your productivity

You Can’t Master Time Without Energy

We need to give ourselves the best possible shot at making the most of the time we have, and the only way we can do this is by setting aside time for breaks, rest, meditation, sleep, vacation, refueling, and of course, exercise.

… plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

You must determine what you’re going to do with your time. But it’s not going to do you any good to obsess over the glitches that occur as the days unfold. That just makes you want to give up on planning altogether.

  • Rest. Studies suggest people can’t focus for longer than 90 minutes at a time before requiring a 15-minute break. Resting goes hand in hand with what was already said about breaks, but if you want to take midday naps or spend 30 minutes playing a video game, build this into your routine also.
  • Meditation. I like to meditate for at least 15 minutes per day. The health benefits alone are worth the effort. You can experiment and see what works for you. But I don’t see much point in complicating the process. Simply find a guided meditation or meditation music you like on YouTube, close your eyes, and breathe.
  • Sleep. Increasingly, studies show that at least eight hours per night of sleep is a requirement. Any less and we don’t function at optimal levels, and long term, our health suffers. It sounds extreme to some, but before falling asleep, I take magnesium and Somno-Pro, put on a fan, put on my sleeping mask, and insert ear plugs, preferably in a cool, dark room.
  • Vacation. To live like no one else can, we need to be willing to live like no one else will for a while. So, cast aside any notion of the two-week vacation. It doesn’t make sense for the Renegade. It will either be too much time away from your passion, or not enough time to fully recover from the managed chaos that is your life. Consider taking a few days (or a full week) off every quarter instead, especially if you’re grinding out 10- to 16-hour days (these have a way of becoming unsustainable). And if some rare opportunities come up to go on a family vacation, or to visit a country you’ve always wanted to travel to, seize it. I regret not going to Mexico with my family in 2014, but don’t regret spending over two weeks in Japan in 2017.
  • Refueling. Refueling, of course, refers to eating, and eating is necessary to living. We all know we need to eat healthy and that this is easier said than done. My naturopath recommended to me a balance of organic grains and beans, vegetables, and meats, preferably all cooked. A very easy way to fulfill on this intention is to make soups and stews, which is easy to do with a pressure cooker. But if in doubt, consult a trusted source. I am not a nutritionist or physician.
  • Exercise. I make it my goal to walk at least 6,000 steps per day. Many days I will exceed that number. On rare occasions, I will come well under. I have since added pushups and sit-ups and have seen immediate results from the effort. I can’t tell you what to do here. It depends a lot on how much time you have available and where you plan to exercise. You might have an excellent workout regimen already, in which case, congratulations. But if you don’t, implement one. And if you can, mix things up. Engage in walking, weight training, cycling, and hot yoga. Also, don’t let a one-hour workout expand to fill three hours with idle dilly-dally, slowly tying your gym shoes, spending 30 minutes in the shower, etc. Get in, get out, unless it’s your day off.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

We’re artists. We love to follow inspiration and start things from scratch.

  • Lyric sheets. You could treat it like a letterhead — add your logo to the top with a place to add the title and the date you began working on the song. If you want, you could create a space for the names of the writers and contributors, too. Custom lyrics sheets could be great for archiving, posterity, and even for making a book of your band’s history.
  • Custom DAW templates. Getting ready to fire up a new project in your DAW? Nowadays, not only do DAWs come with pre-loaded templates, but you can also customize and create your own. This should save you a lot of time setting up and labeling tracks for all the instruments you intend to record. Even bands that experiment widely with synth sounds generally utilize close to the same number of channels across projects.

Move with Urgency

I’m a laid-back guy. Some have even referred to me as the “master of Zen.”

Identify “Good Enough”

This is another doozie for creatives. We want everything to be “perfect.” When we deliver a film score to a client, a demo to a label, or a YouTube video to our fans, we want everything to be just right.

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David Andrew Wiebe

Award-winning composer, best-selling author, podcaster, musician coach. See what I’m up to now: https://withkoji.com/@newmusicindustry