If you’re in a band that has trouble focusing and staying on task, you’re not alone. Getting things done in a group setting can be difficult, especially when bands are built on close friendships. Focusing as a band is a skill that doesn’t come naturally for some, but this isn’t a problem for musicians who are willing to put in the work. Here are five tips for building your focus while you write and rehearse as a band:
Set your phones to airplane mode
Let’s kick this off with an easy but crucial one. You won’t be able to apply your complete attention to your work as a band if you’re all on your phones half of the time. Checking social media notifications or sending a text can wait a couple of hours. Setting your phone to airplane mode is an easy way to remove yourself from the temptation of checking your phone and allows you to focus on the tasks at hand. If you stick to the rule of switching to airplane mode each time your band meets, you’re going to get a lot more done.
Make a plan and stick to it
Focusing isn’t really possible when you have nothing to focus on. Bands need concrete plans and goals to work towards if they want to make the most out of their writing sessions and rehearsals. This could be anything from agreeing to run through a set of music to prepare for a tour to working on transforming a loose musical idea into a finished song. Define your goals and plans first, and then put the work in. Your focus will be improved if your plans include scheduling time to address non-musical stuff involving you and your music, like booking shows, promoting music, and maintaining social media accounts.
Make time for socializing before or after
If your band consists of a couple of great friends, then you should consider yourselves lucky. Strong friendships help many bands to make it through years of serious challenges with strong bonds that allow them to eventually reach their goals. However, the friendship thing can make focusing a challenge. This is why bands should set aside time for socializing before and after writing sessions and rehearsals. These are the occasions you should catch up and goof off, but this shouldn’t happen while you’re trying to write a new album or prepare for an important show.
Give yourself more time than you think you need
Focusing isn’t easy to do if your band constantly feels stretched for time when you meet. By giving yourselves more time than you think you need for writing and rehearsal sessions, you’ll be able to fully engage with your work without worrying about running out of time and having somewhere else to be. Lots of musicians are busy, so it makes sense that bands try to arrange times to meet that accommodate busy schedules. But this is a situation where quality beats out quality, so it may be better to focus on longer meetings instead of numerous shorter ones when it comes to focusing.
Leave time for creative exploration
Lots of bands just want to mess around on their instruments and improvise when they get together. This is a great way to write music and build your musical chemistry together, but it’s not particularly helpful for things like practicing for shows and completing half-finished songs. By scheduling time for creative exploration, you’ll be able to focus on getting things done with plenty of time for the fun stuff. If concentrating with your band is constantly a challenge, you just might have some excess energy that needs expending.
The ability to focus isn’t something that might come naturally for you and your bandmates, but you’ll get better and better over time. If you’re chronically unable to focus after lots of time and effort, it could be because you’re simply not into what you’re doing and need a change. Doing what you love in a band is usually a relief from daily life that’s naturally supportive of focusing and concentration, so constant distraction could mean you’re bored and will benefit from a shakeup.
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.