Time Management For Composers
If you are struggling with managing your time, projects and identifying your priorities, you're not alone. The key is to make time your friend. Let's discuss...
Time is the MOST important tool and commodity we have. It is finite. You only get so much. You can't make more of if. Once its gone its gone! You can only use it wisely. The application of time is the key. You think that you'll have plenty of time to work on your projects, goals, daily tasks, etc. If you are like most of us, you put things off for later when you're "feeling it", or, outside influences drive your usage of time i.e. delivering a project by a certain date
Let's stop taking time for granted and get intentional with how we use and manage it. Instead of being reactionary to time, lets be responsive to it. Like the old saying goes, "time and tide wait for no man".
TRY THIS TO HELP YOU MANAGE YOUR TIME BETTER (this works with work projects as well as general life tasks):
Plan every hour of your day. As we discussed, you have limited time, so only spend it on three to five game-changing activities—actions that will create the most significant impact on your goals. Be purposeful and targeted. Write down your tasks. I suggest macro weekly tasks and micro daily tasks.
Answer these four questions each day (can be applied to the macro as well):
1) What’s the purpose of each task?
2) What’s the most important thing that you can do today?
3) What MUST be done today?
4) If you don't do this task, what will be the consequence?
If you answer these questions and complete the actions consistently, motivation will take care of itself. However, motivation is never enough and will only take you so far. This is where discipline comes in. The ability to use your time wisely and take consistent action when you are unmotivated.
This can be a challenge when your a composer or other type of creative because your tasks maybe contingent on creativity, mood, vibe, energy level, etc., and if you are not in a creative mood, its very hard to create. However, EVERY A list composer I know all say the same thing. Even if you are not in a creative mood, write/compose every day. Something, anything, just write something. You never know when that idea, motif or creative sketch may come in handy. To borrow a phrase from Nike....."Just Do It!"
As a composer, I have to use my time in so many different ways and it can be overwhelming. Composing, Sound Design, Editing and Mastering, Marketing, Business Development, Customer Management, Project Meetings, Managing and coordinating teams of people i.e. orchestrators, programmers, clients, musicians, etc. I also have a wife and a family which adds more time and attention. Here are a couple of time management strategies and tools I use.
1) Make a project sheet either in Word, Excel, Evernote, Google Doc, etc. List all the relevant data i.e. important people, contact information, tasks, dates, schedules, genre's, other key data points like editors timelines, or things that may impact your part of the project etc. Everything you need to know about your project in one organized place.
2) Create a Gant chart that works backwards. List all of the activities that MUST be completed that you are responsible for. The key here is to work backwards from your deliver date or mile stones i.e. Director sign off, composing time, editing, mixing, review, delivery, etc. This way you have a visual project tracker to help you determine what MUST be completed and when. Not only can you track your progress, but you will have daily, weekly, monthly targets to management to.
3) Its also helpful to create an Excel tab in your Gant Chart to included high level outside deliverables that you are not responsible for i.e. first cut of edit, Director/Client will present the first concept version, other post pro tasks, etc. This will help you keep a high level view of other tasks that could potentially impact your work and time.
4) Use a tool(s) to help you collaborate or manage your time and tasks. Things like spread sheets, collaboration, count down timers, etc. I use and am a big fan of the following tools for collaborating, managing my time and projects:
Using a tool like Slack, Monday Morning, etc. can also help you delegate tasks to your team or partners which helps keep the whole project or the portion your responsible for on track and on time. The good cool this is most of these apps offer mobile versions and as well as a free version and include some time management. There is certainly no shortage of time management tools online. Ultimately, anything that helps you communicate, manage and deliver is critical.
The combination and integration of proper planning, dynamic tools and discipline can help you better use and optimize your time, deliver on time, and free up more time. When time is money, you had better learn to manage it because that train keeps rolling whether you are motivated, disciplined, lazy or not creative. Being a composer for visual media requires you to be responsible and effective in the non-creative business arts. This includes proper management. See my post on the the 5 P's to learn more about this. Remember......Time and tide wait for no one, unless of course you happen to have a Delorean with a flux capacitor installed. :-)