Do you struggle to get things done?
Do you have a million projects that you’ve started, but have struggled to finish?
I know I’ve been that way. Still am sometimes. It can be challenging to get things done.
You see, getting started is fun. You get going on your project and the possibilities seem endless. You think about all the great things you can do with this song, or mix, or whatever. You imagine how great it will be when it’s done.
But then when you get into it, reality sets in. Maybe it’s more work than you thought. Maybe the initial excitement has given way to stress, or boredom, or discouragement.
I’ve been there.
Although I haven’t mastered this, I feel that I’ve come across some pretty great strategies for pushing through the creative barriers. They’ve worked well for me, and I think they can really work for you as well.
Ok, so maybe this is a no-brainer, but it can be so easily overlooked. If you want to get something done, you need to plan it out. Put it in your schedule. Write it in your calendar. Don’t just say “I’ll do it someday”. Someday never comes.
The best way to do this is to take your looming project and break it into actionable steps. When I say “actionable”, I mean literally something that you can just do, without having to think about it. “Record acoustic guitar tracks for the EP” is an actionable step. “Do EP” is not. Be specific. Ask yourself “What is the next action I can take on this project?”
If you’re not familiar with the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology, I would recommend reading about it some. Maybe even buy the book. Whether or not you implement the methodology, David Allan does give a lot of good strategies for…well…getting things done.
Along with planning, deadlines are important. If you struggle to get things done, or if your projects just tend to drag on and on, maybe you should try setting a deadline. Promise yourself that you will get it done by that date.
And then tell somebody about it. Which leads me to my next point:
For me, the best thing I can do to ensure that I get a project done is to tell someone about it. Recently, two of my buddies, Al Tone and Lennart, (check out their stuff, because they’re awesome) independently told me stories about how accountability made the difference for them. They both had people holding them accountable, and that helped them to get the project done.
I can testify myself that it has helped me too. It’s not a silver bullet, but it can definitely help. Find a friend who will follow up with you. Tell them about your project. Show them your plan. Share your deadline with them. Try it out, and see if it works.
Ready to keep me accountable?
Ok, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and do something a little scary.
I’m a member of Dueling Mixes (affilate link). For those of you who don’t know, it’s a fantastic online service for practicing mixing. I can’t tell you how much better my mixes have gotten because of this one specific service. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend that you take a look. If you put in the work, your mixes will get so much better.
One thing that I like about Dueling Mixes is that I have to complete a new mix every month. Guess what? This gives me a deadline. It challenges me to get a new mix done every single month.
Now, here’s the scary part. The deadline is looming. I want to get my mix done by the end of the month, which is this Saturday. By the time Sunday rolls around, I want to be done this month’s mix.
I would like you to hold me to it.
I’m almost done, I just have to do that last little bit, tweak a few more things, and then bounce it down. Once it’s done, I’m going to share it with you so you can have a listen. My goal, which I’ve now told you about, is to have it done by this Saturday. Hold me to it.
[EDIT – I got it done on schedule. If it weren’t for putting this deadline in writing, I probably wouldn’t have. So thank you!]
Accountability is key. Whether it’s a mix, a songwriting challenge, or a full production, it helps to tell someone, and have them hold you to it. It’s stressful, but it’s a good kind of stress. The kind that motivates you to get things done.
Because here’s the truth: the more you get done, the better you get. It doesn’t matter how many things you start. You gotta finish.
Over at Dueling Mixes (affilate link), I’m finishing a new song every month. If you want your mixes to get better, you should click that link and join me. I’d love to see you inside.
But either way, let me ask you this: what project are you struggling with now? Are you having trouble getting it done? If so, make a plan. Put it in your calendar. Set a deadline.
And then, send me an email. Tell me about your plan and your deadline. I will check in on you to see how you’re doing, and help you to accomplish your goal in whatever way I can.
Go make some music!