Productivity Tip: Vary Your Tasks Often To Get More Done

Tascam PortaStudioI have a small music studio at home (the ancient Tascam PortaStudio to the left being a central component). Right now I have an album’s worth of songs in various stages that need to be finished. Some songs need to be totally re-recorded; others just need the final mixes tweaked, and everything in between.

For the month of April, I am forcing myself to work on this album in some capacity for at least one hour a day. Some days, when I have already spent one full workday in front of an After Effects station, this could be a difficult goal to fulfill. But I am not letting myself make any excuses. In March I worked out a system to get myself to work more and more, and in April I am sealing the deal.

The way I am making myself work on this project every day is by keeping all of the songs in various stages of production. So while one song may need to be recorded, and one may need to be mixed and another one may need to be mastered, I have various activities to pick and choose from depending on my available free time, and the amount of involvement I want to take in each work session.

Many times the thought of recording makes me think about lugging out all sorts of gear, several failed takes, and the inevitable cleanup of the session. However, now when I get to work, I don’t even think about recording. Instead I’ll open up a project that needs to be mixed, start tweaking it, and see where I end up. If I spend an hour doing this then my goal has been met. What I’ve found is that after messing with the mix of one song for a little bit, I’ll switch gears to another song that needs recording. With this system, I’ve effortlessly gotten my brain into production mode without ever thinking about how daunting one particular task can be.

The main key here is to keep your tasks separate. If you are recording, don’t worry about mixing. If you are mixing don’t start recording. Break your work session into small yet separate chunks and worry about the other tasks later.

Of course there will come a point where all of the songs will be in their final stages, and I won’t have the luxury of varying my tasks. This is fine because the goal is not about tricking myself into working. The goal is to get closer to finishing my project faster.