Today we face many more distractions than ever. Video Games, on demand TV, Phones and the all mighty Internet take up more of our time than ever before. These are great and all have great resources we can utilize to build our skills, but they can also take valuable hours away from you honing your craft. There’s an old saying that you never work a day in your life if you are doing something you love. That is very true, but sometimes it’s hard for us to take doing what we love seriously. We start out with a hobby that we would like to turn into a career the hard part being; how do we focus to treat a hobby like a career.
There is nothing wrong with loving what you do! We love recording, and everyday is a blast, but the truth is sometimes, even WE have to step back and take things seriously. So here are a couple tips on how to stay focused!
Make Hours for Yourself
This might seem strange, but there is a practice that musicians, artists and writers use, they set a schedule. For example, set 3 hours a day aside to work. Everyday you know those three hours you will work on your craft. Maybe it’s studying acoustics, working on a mix or learning a new piece of equipment. The point is that if you get used to scheduling time to do this, it will become second nature, and soon a habit, and before you know it you will start learning more and growing your arsenal of tools.
Make Rules for Yourself
There is no doubt that any job you will ever work has a rulebook or handbook with regulations you must follow: No Cell Phones, Half Hour for lunch, One smoke break… These are set for a reason, so that you can focus on your work without distractions. So after you make your schedule, make some rules:
– No TV
– No Twitter or Facebook
– No Internet (That’s a biggie, especially if you are working on a computer)
– One smoke break in 3 hours.
These are all ways you can eliminate simple everyday distractions. I know of musicians, artists and writers that don’t even have phones in their work area. I personally would turn off the wifi for a couple hours to keep my temptation of wasting time on Facebook and twitter down.
You have to be your own boss, reprimand yourself if you break one of these rules. Because once you earn a major position, they are going to have rules similar, so might as well get practice now! Which leads me to…
Outside of your three hours or maybe for 10 minutes, practice common activities you will have to complete in your Dream Career. Maybe this is soldering, wrapping cables, setting levels… The list goes on. Someday you will be an intern or entry level assistant, your boss will be in a bind and say, “Who can solder this cable?!” You spent many hours practicing it and you will have that tool in your belt. The point of practicing is to be prepared for the unexpected. I have heard and met many individuals, musicians, producers and engineers, who are where they are because they prepared.
One Such story is one where a drummer playing in a small band had practice every song by a major act because his girlfriend worked for the manager of that act. When the old drummer was fired, the new drummer’s audition was live in front of 11,000 people. He spent many years with them after that.
The moral? You just never know when an opportunity will arise, especially in the Music Industry.
There is no bigger momentum killer than not being prepared. You are working on a mix and you think of the perfect plug in to use. And you spend 15 minutes looking for it. That will kill any momentum you have going. So keep your files and plugins organized. Also keep your work area clean. Any good studio will look brand new as you walk in to work. Keep yours clean as well. Keep wires untangled and wound. Get trash off the Desk, you WILL spill something on a piece of gear.
Make Mistakes and Reward Yourself
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. You are learning. Some of the greatest sounds ever recorded we by accident, let them happen.
Pat yourself on the back every once and a while. You know how hard you are working and that will pay off some day.
You can also reward yourself by taking breaks and days off. You have to be driven and accountable, but if you really don’t feel like working, don’t force yourself, it will only make you more frustrated. Sometimes things will sound better after you let something sit for a while.
YOU control your own destiny, practicing now will make you stronger later!