Not enough time for music? Bullsh*t

This post has been a long time coming & it’s time we had a 1 on 1 sit down.

I’ve been spending years telling you why you can make some serious strides in your music making. While many of you feel that initial boost of energy & motivation, a large percentage of you start telling me why you can’t do it. Since whatever you say to yourself & others ends up being the truth in your reality, it seems extremely counter productive to allow anything but thoughts of what is possible into your mind.

Your excuses are largely laziness. This is not to say that you are a lazy person in general, as many of you have very busy lives. Where laziness comes into play is in changing your routine & better managing your time for your creative endeavors. Let me explain..

Your brain is usually running on autopilot. 90% of the things you do today are things you did yesterday, and the day before. This of course includes breathing & heartbeat, but also includes very deeply ingrained habits. Your brain relies on these autopilot habits to conserve energy. Any type of new challenges that require a new set of thinking skills is going to be rejected pretty fast to free up energy resources.

 

 

Thinking requires energy

To think a new thought or to solve a new problem or to explore a new interest is comparable to getting an airplane in the air. You have to have a lot of consistent energy to reach a comfortable flight level. You often have to pull energy from other sources temporarily to get lift off. Lift off is when your new action becomes habit & gets added to your autopilot, requiring much less energy.

Making music is the ultimate process of repeatedly facing new difficult challenges that the brain doesn’t want to give energy to. Ever notice how much you want to take a nap or just gel out when you are trying to work on something new?

I assert that the real reason many of you start slacking or give up all together is that you haven’t put in enough consistent effort to change your current challenges into solutions on autopilot.

 

Why tutorials can be bad for you

You may think I am shooting myself in the foot here since I make tutorials for a living, but I see what I do differently. My true purpose is not to get you to watch tutorials or read my posts (although I appreciate both), it’s to empower creative people to find their spark & transform themselves into productive & successful music makers.

Tutorials can be the invisible enemy disguising itself as your friend, especially when you aren’t feeling confident in your current skill set. Instead of fighting through a track & learning from personal experience, you convince yourself that you are being productive because you are teaching yourself new tricks. Unfortunately, unless put to immediate use, you’ll forget 80% of what you watched.

To back up this claim, I have found myself watching some of my own tutorials to remember a technique I shared. True story! See, we only have a good memory of the techniques we put to use regularly, not the ones stuck in our heads dormant.

Remember, working on your song is an active experience. It’s putting something new into the world. Learning is very passive & it is taking something that already exists in the world. Can you see the major difference?

Opening your DAW and listening to your 16 bar loop for 20 minutes is NOT making music. It’s just procrastinating.

 

Your big excuse: not enough time

Well, of course you don’t have any time. You have a busy life & you are spending all your music making time doing 1 or more of the following:

1. Reading about making music

2. Watching tutorials about making music

3. Listening to music instead of making it

4. Staring at your computer screen

5. Listening to an unfinished idea on eternal loop, but not engaging further

6. Making more unfinished loops because it’s the only songwriting skill you have mastered

7. Succumbing to anything that makes for a good distraction

These are some of the things you do & then complain that you put a ton of time into your craft & get nothing out of it. Duh!

You have plenty of time, what you don’t have is the willpower to get off of autopilot and start using your brain properly.

 

Forward momentum

I don’t care how little time you claim to have. If you perform even 10 minutes day of pushing your song forward, you will finish music. Can you turn your loop into an 8 bar song arrangement today? 4 bars? 2 bars?

Just start with the intro & add at least 2 bars of music every day. Need to learn something? Great. go directly to what you need to learn & immediately apply it to your 2 bars of music goal for the day. If you do ONLY that, you can make at least 1 song every 4 months.

As a nice side effect, every time you solve a production problem while creating, you will be sending it to the autopilot part of your brain. That means it will take less brain energy every time you perform the task.

All it takes is just 10 minutes of actual work. When you close your song session, it will be at least 1% further than the day before. That is enough. You always have time for what is important.

 

Making time

Yes, I know, there are only 24 hours in a day. Yep, I totally get this. Here’s the thing, who’s life is it? If it’s not yours to control, then who? You need to take that power back. I’m not saying neglect your family or your job. I am only asking you to evaluate your non-essential time.

How much time do you really spend on the following:

Email

Facebook/twitter/G+/instagram/Pinterest

Your mobile phone

Television

I’m going to bet that if you were to take a notebook & for a couple days write down every time you stop doing one thing and start another, you would be shocked how much time is wasted. It’s pretty easy to do. Part of your list might look like this:

9am wake up

9:20 get out of bed, go to restroom
9:25 drink a glass of water
9:26 check email
9:40 check facebook
10:30 answer phone
11:05 eat
11:35 check email
11:44 check facebook
12noon – check today’s To Do list

and so forth…………

Your day might be drastically different, but this information could be life altering.

 

Batching

Is there something you do every day? Sometimes 5 or 6 times a day? I bet it breaks your focus & takes you a good amount of time to get back into your groove. Is it possible to batch your email & Facebook to just 10-15 minutes once in the day time & once a night? That alone can give you up to an hour of productivity a day.

Do you spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing food? Is it possible you can prepare certain foods all on 1 day that you can enjoy for up to a week? I personally cut up a weeks worth of salad stuff & put them into plastic containers, so every day it takes no more than 2-3 minutes to make a salad. I do this for steamed veggies,rice or beans as well. Huge timesaver.

Take a look at what daily errands you might be doing that can be batched into just once or twice a week.

 

Welcome back to your music life

As I said from the beginning, your excuses are bullshit & the solutions are plenty. There are really only 2 things left to do:

1. Create time

2. Create your own dent in the universe.

 

Happy music making,

Jason

 

 

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