Whether it was normal for you or not, writing and recording from home have become an unexpected necessity due to the COVID-19 crisis. As musicians, creating from home presents many challenges that we may not be used to. Distractions like roommates, family members, pets, and other things can make creating music from home especially hard. It’s not easy, but by managing our time we can make room for music in our lives at home.
Work, home, and everything in between
Musicians thrive when they take the time to find spaces they’re most productive in. If you’re a serious musician, you most likely already have a designated space to work located somewhere in your home. Yet, in times of crisis or hardship, many musicians find themselves working in non-ideal spaces. Some of these spaces may be bedrooms, shared apartments, or dorm rooms. Regardless. this is a major challenge working like this. It is a clashing of our personal and creative lives. When the routines and demands of our lives at home have to suddenly accommodate the need to create, record, practice, and experiment, it can be hard to get anything done.
One of the best ways to navigate this situation is by managing your time. Doing this forces you to mentally compartmentalize your personal life and your musical one. It allows you to create boundaries, consider the needs of others, and carve out time to focus on music.
Extended time at home could boost or kill your productivity
While stuck at home, you might think the free time you have will be great for songwriting, recording, or practicing. However, without a plan, you may end up being far less productive than usual. Even though it seems like you won’t have anything to do, your time will get filled up before you realize it. TV, social media, parenting, romantic partners, household chores––these things can and will consume your time.
Plan, prioritize, and follow-through
Managing this time allows you to designate plenty of time for your music and everything else. Just keep in mind, it has to be a conscious choice. The first step towards managing time at home for music is assessing your goals, resources, and limitations. Every music-maker can be productive at home by making time for their craft. Set a weekly schedule to stick to, and be very specific about what you will do with that time. Instead of penciling in every waking hour for working on music, schedule two to three-hour blocks and go from there. If it’s helpful, schedule in non-musical things as well to make sure you have all your bases covered.
Will you adhere to your at-home music schedule 100%? Most likely not, but having a framework to go off of will end up making your time at home productive and structured. If you’re an “I only make music when I feel like it” kind of musician, you’d be surprised how much writing out a schedule and list of goals and priorities can do for your creativity. Whether you’re working towards improving your technical prowess on an instrument or writing better songs, you need plenty of focused practice to get the job done.
To the best of your ability, remove distractions from your at-home music process. This means having conversations with those you live with, setting your phone to airplane mode, and keeping space in your home clean and accessible for working in. Some musicians face more difficult circumstances than others, but we can all learn to manage our time in a way that gives us what we need to pursue music. Being stuck at home isn’t ideal, obviously. However, through planning and prioritizing, we can make the most of our time through music.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.