Have you over thought to yourself, “I’ll finish that project one day“, or “I’ll try that EQ technique one day“? Have those thoughts then been followed up with complete inaction? If the answer is yes…
Congratulations, you’re human!
I’ve encountered this with a lot of brilliant, creative people and it is absolutely something I’ve been guilty of in the past.
The thing is… it really doesn’t matter how intelligent or hard working you are – we’re all affected by the same behavioural influences.
Procrastination is the most damaging of all of these influences when it comes to making great music. So let’s put an end to it!
How can your talent be heard if you’re not taking action?
One of my favourite quotes is by the great Dale Carnegie and it is as follows:
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy”
Taking action is the most important thing you can do in life and in music. To achieve great results in music production, I think you need to take action and follow a system. Without a system and workflow, it’s like you’re swimming upstream.
Let’s use a mixing project as an example and take a look at how simple things can snowball if you don’t take action…
There might be some tasks like editing or vocal tuning that you have to complete before you can actually get into the nitty gritty of mixing. These can be tricky, tedious tasks and sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to get them done. You know that if you don’t get them out of the way, you can’t complete the mix, but you might still put them off until later.
If the simple, essential tasks get put off until later, then the whole mixing process could end up being moved to another day. Another day might not be the very next day or even the next week. Months could pass and you end up standing still. This really means you’re putting your dreams on hold and you’re no closer to finishing your project – which leaves you feeling unhappy and unfulfilled.
Just reading that paragraph makes me feel anxious!
What’s equally as bad is if you have a deadline for a client and you procrastinate. You’re then either going to miss your deadline or finish the job under pressure. Some people do like working this way, but why procrastinate in the first place when you can take simple steps to get fired up and motivated from the very start?
So, why do we procrastinate?
Here are 12 of my thoughts on why we procrastinate and what you can do about it…
- If you put things off, they can’t go wrong
- If you’re a perfectionist, you need to learn to complete something in an imperfect way
- Looking at your mix as one big project can be overwhelming
- Lack of self-control
- Underestimating and overestimating time commitments
- Pressure and action
- Skill deficits
- Lack of interest
- Lack of motivation
It’s that simple. But, the task or project will still be in the back of your mind as something uncompleted. Over time, this will affect you.
Even if it’s not absolutely perfect, it’s a learning experience and next time around, you’ll get better. Remember that what’s perfect in your eyes (or ears) is completely different in the eyes (or ears) of someone else.
As with everything else in life, you need to break up the big task into smaller chunks.
Everyone has different levels of self-control, so look at making your setup free from distractions. We all know what our biggest distractions are, so keep your workplace free of them.
Some mixers take a very long time to complete a mix. Some look to get through a mix as quickly as possible. Some will be somewhere in the middle.
If you usually take a long time to mix, maybe change it up and try to mix in a short space of time and challenge yourself to get it done quicker.
If you have no deadline and you’re just mixing for yourself and your own music, then some things risk never being completed. No pressure means no action and no action means no end result.
Sometimes, people just want to switch their brains off and watch TV. If you’ve had a tough day and you don’t feel like working on your project, perhaps it really isn’t the best time for you to work. Maybe it is a good idea to just relax on the couch for the evening and watch your favorite show. But, in reality, while you’re sitting watching TV, someone else is grinding and getting closer to completing their goals.
There’s a big difference between work/life balance and laziness. By all means keep your life balanced, but don’t get lazy and comfortable.
If you don’t exactly know how to do something, then you can’t complete a task like a mix.
Figure out what it is you need to do. Watch that tutorial video on gain staging, EQ, compression or one of your other weak links and then apply it to the mix at hand.
The human brain is capable of analyzing huge quantities of information based on internal and external conditions. It then makes decisions on what needs to be done next. If you don’t have all the information you need, your brain stalls and that’s when you experience procrastination.
Some tasks are tricky to complete. but if you get fired up, passionate and inspired about the work at hand, it’s easier to get interested and plow through the more mundane tasks.
Starting a task is the real source of motivation. Once you start and see things coming together, your motivation builds up and you’ll be happy to keep going.
Sometimes, in the world of instant gratification we live in, it’s worth taking a look at your attitude. If you feel like you’re missing out on having fun with your friends while you’re working on your project alone on a Friday night, it’s good to remember that the greater the work you do, the more passionate and fun you’ll be to be around.
Are you afraid your mixes won’t sound as good as the top professionals? Are you afraid that if you nail this one mix that everyone will expect the same of you again and you might not be able to replicate it?
If your self-worth is tied to achievement, then how much achievement is good enough? Inaction or procrastination may be your response to the feeling of not being “good enough”. But, if you never act, you’ll never be good enough. You can be both afraid to fail and afraid to succeed.
Procrastination is the brain’s way of delaying action
Do you want to delay getting your projects finished? You might have the best intentions in the world, but procrastination will stop you from implementing your intentions, if you let it.
There are those of us that enjoy the thrill of the last minute rush and procrastination definitely plays a part in that. If you work that way, that’s all well and good, but sometimes the results can show through in your work.
Plus, if you think about it – if you got the project done quickly and well, you could move on to the next project and greater advancement quicker than you think. Delaying work until you’re dangerously close to the deadline means you will work at a frenetic pace. Sometimes the thrill of getting things done this way is encouraging, but it’s actually a false sense of security.
Just because you’ve stayed up for 2 days to complete something, doesn’t mean that this should become the norm or that you can replicate this again. You’ll feel proud, relieved and exhausted, but you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. That sense of accomplishment will remove any sort of motivation to stop you from procrastinating. So, in my opinion, just don’t do it!
There are many more tips and tricks we can use to avoid procrastination and increase productivity but I’d prefer to open up a discussion so…
Take action and let me know…
What do you do to avoid procrastination?
Leave a comment below!
professional sounding mix every time…