Arranging & OrchestrationMusic Production

Increase Your Productivity: Free Composer’s Workflow Checklist

increase your productivity

There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to focus and be productive. So here is a free checklist on how you can increase your productivity as you create new music.

Free Composer’s Workflow Checklist



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Increase your productivity: Composer’s Workflow Checklist

Here are 10 things that you should do before you sit down to compose, produce, or write a new song.

1. Turn off unnecessary communication devices

This is a very important factor! Having your phone pinging every few minutes will interfere with your workflow.

It can take as much as 30 minutes to recover from distractions like emails or phone calls.

Even worse for musicians, a distraction can cause you to forget a melody, harmony, or lyric.

If you truly want to increase your productivity, leave your phone off.

Pro Tip: If you must keep your phone on, put it on the other side of the room.

2. Decide what tools you will be using

Are you going to compose sheet music with Sibelius, Dorico, Finale, etc.? Producing, maybe you’re using Cubase or Logic Pro X?

It’s best to make music using the method that is the fastest for you. The objective here is to get your ideas out and captured in a written or recorded format.

Depending on the project, you may decide to use different tools to get the job done.

In some instances, you’ll use a combination of these applications.

Sometimes you’ll know from the outset what the music will call for. Other times, you’ll find out as you’re working.

Whatever tools you may possibly consider should be easily accessible.

3. Prep any musical instruments that will be used

It is a good practice to have all of your instruments ready to pick up, plug in, and record.

Nothing messes up workflow like searching for aux cables and tuning instruments.

Be sure your music instruments are ready, just like a surgeon has his tools readily available. Time is actually a factor once those creative juices start flowing.

4. Ensure your computer system and external hard drives

NEVER save your projects to your computer’s internal hard drive.

This sounds basic, however a lot of people get this wrong.

NEVER save your projects to your computer’s internal hard drive.

Two primary reasons for using external hard drives for music production:

  1. If your computer crashes, you can easily open your project files on a new computer system.
  2. Using external hard drives for your project files can improve your computer’s overall performance if you invest in quality hard drives such as G-Technology or the popular Samsung Solid State T5.

A fast computer system will go a long way in increasing your productivity.

5. If possible, avoid using new production software while composing

I love new technology. It’s great and you should stay up-to-date.

However, when you’re creating new music, use software that you’re very familiar with.

If you want to make sure your creative output is optimized, only use new software when you’re making revisions, edits, etc.; non-creative tasks.

If you’re learning a new DAW, it’s best to set aside time to experiment and produce music in the new working environment.

6. Get comfortable, create a great working space

My old studio setup in South Africa

This is more important for some more than others. Personally, I am more productive when I have a neat, clean working space.

My ideal studio setup is dimly lit ambience with salt lamps and other warm lighting.

Some people like brightly lit rooms with plenty of sunlight and big windows.

Whatever makes you more productive, be sure to set up your space accordingly.

7. Stay hydrated

This is something that I’ve learned overtime. Water is super important.

After a few hours in the studio, productivity can begin to slow down simply due to dehydration.

Our bodies are made up of 60% water. So headaches and overall fatigue can occur if water intake is neglected.

8. Complete urgent tasks beforehand

If you have an important task that needs to be attended to, it’s best to complete these tasks before you begin any creative endeavor.

It is very difficult to focus if you’re concerned about people contacting you because you missed a deadline or they need you to complete important an form.

9. Don’t avoid “bad” ideas

Once you sit down to write, do not be concerned with writing a masterpiece.

Instead, realize the process is like digging for gold.

There can be tons of dirt removed before you come across a precious metal. However, you won’t get to the good stuff if you don’t start.

Start with a few ideas and begin to explore. The stuff that makes the hair stand up on your arms could be the beginnings of something special.

On the contrary, “avoiding bad ideas” can paralyze you and is ultimately your ego getting the best of you.

This may seem like it won’t increase your productivity.

However, allow the “bad ideas” and “average” ideas come and go. This is part of the practice and is completely normal; you’re not alone.

10. Be ready to take notes

I have learned to keep a notepad nearby when composing.

A trusty notepad or whiteboard can come in handy if you have ideas like, “Maybe I should repeat the motif in bar 17” or “Explore doing a key change in at the end of the development”.

The less you have to remember, the better. Taking notes will free up your mental space and make it easy for you to focus on the creation process. Ultimately increase your productivity and artistic output.

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