During the last years I received a lot of messages about how I structure my working day as a composer and sound designer. Obviously this structure changed a lot during said times and too often the amount of work and involved deadlines also played a big role and still do.
In general it is not really easy as a creative person, because even though I have learned to be “creative on command”, meaning, delivering music on demand, it doesn’t mean that it always works. Sometimes I get creative in the afternoon, sometimes I wake up and have an idea and other times I was only able to squeeze out a few bars of music during a full working day!
So, disregarding how early or late I start to work, I always try to remember a few points which quickly became my twelve steps of a structured day.
1. Waking up
The first thing which generally happens after waking up is that sheer amount of worrying thoughts flooding our brains like that unexpected wave in Robert Emmerich’s movie “2012”!
We start thinking about everything what went wrong, what we forgot to do yesterday, what we have to do today and what happens if we don’t make it in time, all mixed up with our general moods, financial worries and many other things which would fill a full blog on its own! Besides that, how many times did you play with the thought to not get up at all! 🙂
There is actually an easy method to stop all this:
Put something on your nightstand which reminds you to be thankful for this new day! If you don’t have anything, simply write a little note and put it next to your bed where you see it first! It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it works.
So after you woke up, be thankful for this new day full of opportunities and get up to avoid that flood of unnecessary and worrying thoughts. The problem is, the longer the duration in between waking up and getting out of bed, the bigger the flood of thoughts!
2. Meditating for ten minutes
Stop! Before you shake your head and say that you don’t have time for stuff like this because you need every precious minute to get your job done, consider that after these 10 minutes your head can feel so free and relaxed as is you would have been on vacation for a few days! Once I experienced this, I didn’t want to miss it anymore.
I mean hey, what is the first thing you usually do after getting up? Right! Peeing! Why do you do it? Because you got a full bladder and you want to get something done during the day without dancing around as if someone put a spell on you.
So if you have the chance to start your day with an entirely free and relaxed state of mind, why not give it a try?
3. Start your personal morning ritual
For some it is a breakfast, for others coffee only, a shower, a little workout, a morning run or a combination of some of these. It doesn’t matter, do it and celebrate it! Oh, … and if you take the shower, try to end it with 30 seconds of cold water! Do this a few days in a row,the cold shock will disappear and your entire body will change for the better!
4. Structure your day
Write down a little checklist with all the things you want to get done today! A list like this is a great way to structure your day on a realistic basis. Please remember that you are a human being and that this list shouldn’t be created to summon a heart attack. It simply is there to get everything out of your head to focus on your upcoming work.
5. Be productive
Try to really focus and start working on what’s first on your list. Put your phone to silent mode and if you didn’t turn off your email or Facebook notifications already, do it! I did it a long time ago and it was one of the best decisions of my life!
Also consider a mixture of a standing/sitting working desk solution because you work more focused while standing.
Try to be productive for at least two hours!
6. Have a break
Simply take a break to get out and do a 20 minute walk, which is enough cardio training for the entire day. You will reset your brain, your lungs will provide your blood with fresh air and your back will thank you
During the two hours before and the two or three hours after my break I usually get done way more stuff as if I try to get right to work after waking up and force myself to finish that track I am working on.
Of course you could also have your lunch here.
7. Remember the lamest of all lame excuses
I chose this headline, because I told it to myself way too often during my 15+ years of being in the business!
“But but but, I don’t have time for crap like this! I am so damn important and I have to get this track done, I simply do not have ten minutes to mediate or even get out and do a 20 minute walk. Do you even know what I can write in 30 minutes? Ha!
Please remember that this is the lamest of all lame excuses. First of all, you have 30 minutes to care about your body, but you simply don’t want to!
The other problem is, after working continuously on something, your brain gets that tired and literally screams for a change that you start wasting those 30 mins on Facebook!
You may have also experienced the following situation. You already tested to take a walk in between your working time and found it so refreshing, awesome, productive and great, that you decided to do it every day from now on. Wow, you managed to write the same amount of music in six hours, which took you twelve before!
… to only find yourself shaking your head again at No. 6 on the following day!
8. Be productive again
Just try to put everything aside again and be as productive as possible. As said before, usually after these five or six hours in general you should have already gotten done more than trying to cram as much work into your day as possible. Please be reminded that you are not a machine! You need rests, you need sleep and you need time to reboot.
As a little reminder, if you think that it is totally worth to train yourself to become some sort of workinator, who doesn’t need sleep and breaks, be prepared for some unwelcomed chest pain or other unnecessary issues once you grow older! I, for one, want to work in my dream job as long as possible! Is it considered success when you destroy yourself for money?
9. Eat and drink or do at least one more break
Wait, what? Yes, I want to remind you to eat. To be honest, I am speaking of experience. Even until today I sometimes catch myself being so deep into the creative tunnels, that I totally forgot to eat or drink. When you work you need energy, so do everything for your body to provide it! … and no, I don’t mean sweets to replace a full meal! Please keep in mind that of course you can insert your meal in whatever break you are taking today. Maybe before taking the walk, maybe afterwards. It doesn’t matter!
10. Aaaaand production again!
This time it is up to you. Are you still feeling creative or is it just some paper work? Maybe you feel like doing office stuff in the morning in order to let out your creativity later during the day. You know how you function best!
11. Your evening routine
Your evening routine should obviously be anything else than composing, creating sounds or checking out new plugins! Deserve your brain the well needed rest and do something else! If you have a girlfriend, wife or even kids, this should be all obvious anyway!
12. Before you go to bed
Even though if you prefer to take your big rest during the day or spend it with your family because you prefer to work at night hours, the worst thing you can do is to keep working until you go to bed! It doesn’t need any explanation to know that this night will probably not be very relaxing!
If you feel that there is still something cruising around in your brain, take a moment and write it “out of your head”. Take a pen and a paper, write it down and be aware that the things you still need to deal with are written down.
The last thing you should put on that piece of paper is that you want to wake up completely relaxed and full of energy!
Make sure to get access to my resource library and download the cheat sheet which sums up above-mentioned points, supports and reminds you to improve your working day!