We all have this folder.
The folder on our hard drive that contains all the unfinished musical projects that we just can’t seem to finish. While not every song that we start is going to be finished and released, our goal should be to minimize the number of tracks that end up in this folder. Finishing your music is no simple task, but with a few changes to your workflow, improved time management, and getting rid of distractions, you can start to reduce the number of tracks that end up staying in the unfinished track folder.
Below I have compiled a list of the 5 tips to help you finish your tracks.
1. Set goals
If you don’t know where you are going, then how can you expect to get there?
Defining your goals for a particular track, both short term and long term, are an absolute must. Setting these goals will help you stay focused and on target.
Without goals, it is all too easy to give up on a track that is causing you difficulty and put it in the unfinished folder, never to see the light of day again. Before you even begin to write your next song, write down short term and long term goals for the track and glance back at them when you start to experience difficulties with the track.
Examples of long term goals could be to release the current song you are working on with a particular label.
Examples of short term goals could be to finish mixing your drums or write a compelling chord progression.
2. Set a deadline
For many musicians and producers, deadlines can be very intimidating.
Rushing to complete your art on a restricted time frame does not seem like a recipe for success. From personal experience, I can assure you that setting deadlines will help you complete your tracks. As artists, we often overthink our work and are incredibly critical of what we create. Having a set deadline makes sure that we don’t have time to overthink the process and keeps the self-doubt that can sometimes halt our productivity at bay.
When setting these deadlines, give yourself a reasonable amount of time to finish the song, but no more than necessary. Make sure to set aside enough time each week to allow you to meet your deadlines.
Try setting deadlines for your productions and you will begin to see just how beneficial they are and how they increase your productivity as a musician.
3. Preselect your sounds and instruments
Preselecting your sounds and instruments is an incredibly important workflow hack.
By selecting the sounds and instruments before you even begin writing, you will have a framework to work within and this will reduce the amount of time you waste by becoming distracted or lost in other ideas. While limiting the instruments and sounds you use in a project may seem like it will limit your creativity, try it and you’ll see that it actually does the opposite.
Having a predefined set of sounds and instruments forces you to make the most of what you have and develop new ideas within this set framework. You will find yourself trying new things that you would have never thought of otherwise.
4. Use the Pomodoro technique
This technique ties in nicely to the tips on setting goals and deadlines.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that uses a timer to break down work into intervals. Between these intervals are very short breaks (around 5 minutes).
Each interval is known as a Pomodoro.
This technique is invaluable for musicians looking to complete as many tracks as possible. Taking time out for these short intervals will help you progress with your song, remove self-doubt, and be more creative.
Try setting intervals for completing a melody, a drum loop, or mixing your synths. Write down each task that can be completed in a short interval (10-30 minutes) and set your timer!
5. Turn off your Wi-Fi and phone
The number of distractions that interrupt you when you are working on your music can determine whether you complete a song or not.
By far, the biggest distractions are your phone and the internet. Having these easily accessible at your workstation can only hurt your focus and productivity. Do yourself a favor and turn off your phone and the Wi-Fi on your computer when you are working on your next track and give yourself an opportunity to put in your most focused effort.
Taking a structured and distraction-free approach to creating music is necessary to get the most out of your time.
By applying the five tips above, you will instantly start to see a higher completion rate for your music.
So before you even start your next song, go through these tips to make sure you are setting yourself up for success.
Daniel is a caffeine dependent, entrepreneur, music producer, sound design junkie, and world traveler crazy about teaching modern electronic music production through his site SoundShock.