1. Prepare your room and computer
Before starting a session, always take the time to make sure everything is set up correctly. There’s nothing worse than getting into the creative groove only to have your focus disrupted by a misbehaving mic or disconnected drum machine. Get all your gear patched in – checking your leads, mics and signal path as you go – to avoid any annoying interruptions during the session.
Once you’ve got your room sorted, turn your attention to your computer. Remember to save at regular intervals and have your files, samples and presets catalogued for easy access. Create separate directories for additional audio and project files, making sure everything is labelled descriptively so you can find things quickly once the session is over. Finally, ensure adequate ventilation around your computer and hardware to prevent crashing and glitches for the computer and overheating for yourself. All these things will help your creativity flow.
2. Know your tools
Nothing impedes progress more than not knowing your DAW or plugins well. Learn menus, map key commands, memorise shortcuts and have your favourite presets stored. Think of your DAW as your instrument. Anything that allows ideas to flow quicker from your mind to the monitors makes you more efficient.
3. Set time-bound goals
Make a clear list of objectives prior to a session and pause to gauge progress at regular intervals. Measuring goals regularly is a great yardstick for productivity. Try not to spend too much time on any particular aspect of a project in order to meet your objectives within a given timeframe. Give yourself an imaginary deadline. If you get stuck on any aspect of the project, move on and come back to it. Assess your goals and note areas which require more of your attention than others, aiming to improve and progress with each session.
4. Take regular breaks
As obvious as it sounds, refreshing your mind and ears regularly can advance progress no end. The human ear fatigues quickly and when you’re in the thick of a mix it’s easy to forget that. A short five minute rest every hour is optimal. Not only will the break give you a renewed perspective on your work, it will also improve your decision making. Remember to stay hydrated, don’t have the monitors turned up too loud and call in a friend or colleague for regular opinions on your progress. If you get too tired, call it a night and return the next day refreshed. Working under excess stress or fatigue will almost always impact progress negatively.
5. Inspire yourself
During breaks listen to your favourite tracks, watch tutorial videos or simply shut off and take a walk – whatever it takes to stoke you inspiration. In the studio, if you always start tracks with drums, try beginning with musical elements or vocals. Thinking outside the box or using a novel approach can massively boost productivity and take you out of a creative rut. But don’t always put pressure on yourself to create a track. Instead, delve into a new set of samples, create some new presets or get to grips with a new plugin – these things in themselves can be great ways to get inspired.
If you’re looking to freshen up on any or all aspects of your production workflow, take a look at our five-day Summer School, booking now.