Many who have followed me for a while are aware that I used to be a terrible procrastinator, spending the better part of 10 years finishing very little music and releasing only 1 track, which was a remix. You may also be aware that I turned this around by finishing 52 songs in just 13 months. A massive shift in my productivity.
Since making these discoveries, I have been doing my absolutely best to share my strategies far and wide.
When you discover that this is a mental game and not anything to do with knowledge, techniques or equipment, you are half way there.
Even knowing that, it can still be quite difficult to get motivated & build the courage & energy to start finishing your music consistently.
By going through my post archives, you will find many helpful techniques to help get you unblocked. Today I want to share something new that I didn’t even realize I was doing.
The process of procrastination
The best way to solve a problem is to understand it in the first place. Let’s break it down to a few different thought patterns.
- Discover or find yourself reminded of a task you need to get done. Perhaps you even committed to this task, but here you are.
- Feel the cluttering of your brain as you play out in your head all the 10’s or100’s of details required to complete the task
- Get a rush of stress, guilt & feel every bit of energy drain from your brain & body.
Obviously this is fairly simplified, but I think it gets pretty close to most people’s experience of procrastination.
So why the resistance? Why the stress?
Firstly, our lives are pretty damn comfortable in this modern age. We have an option for comfort through warmth, food & lazy entertainment like TV or social media. On top of that, each of those things gives us a reward, which is a boost of dopamine, every time we get a like or comment on a post, finish a Netflix series or eat something delicious.
When these rewards come to us so easily, why would we choose to leave this comfort to pursue a task that often gives us very few rewards, makes us uncomfortable & also isolates us from the outside world?
Comfort is the enemy of the artist
So yes, creating can absolutely be one of the most wonderful feelings a person can feel & THAT is why most of us started down this path in the first place. The problem is that once the fun part of done (typically after making 4-8 bars of musical bliss), the hard uncomfortable work comes into play.
Most inexperienced producers stop right there & try to pursue something fun again, thus creating the hard drive graveyard of unfinished ideas, not realizing that in the process, they are building a strong habit of abandoning the ideas before they can ever get to the stage where you are able to reap the reward of accomplishment or admiration from your peers.
How often are you telling people you are a music producer but have little or nothing completed to show anyone?
The cycle must stop and the way to stop it is by moving yourself into places of discomfort. It’s only by pushing those boundaries of discomfort that we are able to overcome it & expand our comfort zone. With practice, the things your hate about music production will become some of parts or the process that you enjoy the most.
A new thinking process
So above I took you through the basic process of procrastination, Let’s make a tweak to that to help change your perception of the tasks ahead.
1. As with before, discover or find yourself reminded of a task you need to get done.
2. Here is where the shift starts. Instead of thinking about all the details of the tasks ahead, I want you to instead think about the feeling of
completion. How does it feel to make that final mixdown? To hand it off to a friend & get that positive reaction? To see your song signed,
released & available through all the digital outlets or even on Vinyl. To hear it coming out of the speakers as you walk into a club?
Does that create a different feeling? Does that build your level of excitement, anticipation & energy?
3. After meditating for a few minutes on that picture, you should see the coming rewards as being so much greater than your little dopamine boosts from netflix or social media. In fact, it’s quite possible that taking action creates more comfort while sitting on the couch is what creates the discomfort.
Repeating this simple technique may help get you into a new habit of taking action AND feeling good about it. When you have a goal & a vision, the actions necessary to get there become just another welcome challenge that you’ll feel better equipped to overcome.
I hope this becomes another powerful tool in your toolbox to move you toward your studio more frequently.
Happy music making,