If I hear one thing from musicians, it’s always, “I have no time.”
Everyone has time; most just don't use it correctly. Rather than create to-do lists to aid their progress, too many create an unruly list that causes productivity paralysis, getting longer as they feel their days getting shorter.
Below is a three-step process to take back control of your unending list, turning it from to-do to to-done.
1. Purge and prioritize
Write out everything you have swimming around in your brain that needs to get done. Whether it’s due tomorrow or a goal for the next five years, get it out on paper so your brain can breathe! It’s now recorded, and you won’t forget it.
Then, start to highlight what you know you can get done now, or have to get done now, and what can/needs to wait. For example, if you’ve finished writing songs for an album, one of the most important things is booking studio time, but will you be able to cross that off today?
Maybe today you work on brainstorming your marketing concepts or creating a Kickstarter campaign. Crossing things off the list will make you feel productive and motivate you to keep going, so be honest with what can get done in the immediate future.
Focus on just today. Worrying about the “how” of getting long-term things done can be too overwhelming and slow you down. Remind yourself that you'll cross those bridges when you reach them.
Now, look at each task you’ve highlighted. Go one by one and break each task down into single steps. For example, “Post new YouTube video” becomes:
- Decide on a topic
- Create a script or outline of content
- Set up equipment for filming
- Film the video
- Edit the video
- Post to YouTube
- Write a caption and choose tags
- Share on other social media channels
As you break down the steps, jot down how long (approximately) the step should take next to each one.
3. Work within your schedule
Once you’ve expanded your list, star or highlight the little tasks that can go a long way but don’t take a long time. Look at your list. Which microtasks have five to 10 minutes assigned to them?
This way, you’ll be able to quickly and easily see what work you can do during the commercial break of your favorite show or while waiting around in the studio. This is how you work smarter – taking advantage of the random, few minutes you have free to get closer to finishing a task.
Once all of your tasks are on your list, broken down, and assigned times, start adding them to your calendar. Take 30 minutes at the beginning of each week to assess what your next few days look like and determine which microtasks can be addressed each day.
After taking these small but important steps, your overwhelming list will seem like a manageable workload because you will have found time in the day for specific, smaller tasks, rather than feeling inundated with larger, vague tasks that have no real direction to them.
The trick is to remember that a task is made up of parts, and more often than not, those parts don’t need to be built at the same time.
If you’d like to test this process out, you can download a free spreadsheet designed to carry out this three-step process here.
Suzanne Paulinski is a mindset coach and founder of The Rock/Star Advocate. She helps music industry professionals gain confidence and clarity in their goals with a healthy work/life balance. Her book,The Rock/Star Life Planner is now available on Amazon.