How To Build Focus As A Musician
A few months ago when surfing YouTube, I came across a video from Tony Robbins where he said, "In an era of such vast information, we're starved of wisdom". My aim with this article is to be the wisdom amidst the chaos. I'll be showing you in four steps how you can build focus as a musician.
1: Limit Tasks
I've had the pleasure of working with hundreds of musicians, and reaching thousands through Instagram alone. With these interactions came countless conversations with artists from every continent about routine building and how to be efficient with their time. Whenever I asked, "What do you do in a day?", I'd get answers like, "I do x, y, z, etc", or "I don't really know what to do".
Both present a problem when you're looking to excel in your career. The first mistake is to do too much. I guarantee you, if I ask an artist what "x, y, z" means, they'll lead me on a journey of useless or time-wasting tasks they squeeze into their day to seem busy.
No artist should be busy “acting busy”. This is a vicious trap and convinces you that you’re being productive.
The second problem is not knowing what to do, which happens to us all. As mentioned in the introduction of this article, when we're flooded with so much information, what the hell is the right answer? The reality is that only you know what you need to do in the immediate future, so here's how you do it.
#1: Create small task lists of between 1-4 things per day maximum.
Don't fall into the trap of needing to do a million tasks with 10% effort. Instead, focus on doing 1-4 tasks with 100% effort every day. Identify what it is you need to work on, whether that's sending songs to promotional playlists, creating content, or engaging with potential fans.
#2: Do hard things first.
When we opt to complete simple tasks first, we end up pushing away highlight stressful tasks. Each day, that tough task seems to elude us and we never get it done. Force yourself to get the hard stuff done so that the rest of your tasks seem easy!
#3: Be Consistent:
Don't try a routine for a week and think it isn't for you. The goal is to program into your mind a routine that you can stick to in order to build your career.
2: Keep Your Workspace Organized
As much as chaos seems useful for creativity when it comes to doing your best work, a messy workstation is in fact counter-productive. First, make a mental note of where you actually do your best work. Is it writing songs in your garden? Perhaps it's sitting in the studio and producing music?
Wherever it is, go to that place and do a little organizing. Keep things tidy, and keep tools (pens, paper, headphones, etc) nearby so you can easily access everything you need in seconds.
This little act of organization can actually help foster a positive habit-building cycle known as habit-stacking. Habit stacking works as follows: add habits you wish to build after an existing habit, for example, flossing your teeth after brushing your teeth, or meditating for five minutes after drinking your morning coffee.
3: Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Meditation is by far one of the greatest mind-hacks when it comes to building focussed attention. The reason meditation - in particular, mindfulness meditation - is so powerful is because it helps train you to focus on a meditation object. The object is often your breath, as well as the breath cycles (inhale + exhale), and sensations related to the breath.
As you begin to hyper-focus your concentration on the breath, your mind learns how to quiet everything else so you're able to go all-in on focussing on the meditation object.
As your practice builds, the directed focus you learn through meditation spills over into your everyday life. Suddenly you become more aware of what you need to do, and you begin committing to tasks and completing them without distracting your attention.
Try a meditative practice for between 5-20 minutes per day for three weeks to see a noticeable difference in your ability to concentrate on a task.
4: Improve Your Sleep
How many hours do you sleep per night? What about your quality of sleep? Are you waking up every few hours, or using something to help you get to sleep?
A lack of quality sleep can have a huge impact on our ability to focus throughout the day. If that wasn't enough, a lack of sleep is now being has now been classed as a "probable carcinogen" by the World Health Organization, with poor sleep being linked to colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer through recent studies.
As a musician, sleep is imperative for several reasons including: when you're on tour and need to be in top shape; when you want to write songs; and your overall mood as you ride the waves of being an artist.
Here are four ways to get better sleep by Matthew Walker (A Sleep expert!)
Create a bedtime ritual each night, and sleep + wake up at the same time every day. This helps create a dependable sleep habit.
2: Sleep-Only Zone:
Make your bed a sleep-only zone. If you're always using your phone while in bed, you're signaling to your brain that your bed = stay awake. Only go to your bed when you're tired and ready to fall asleep.
3: Don't Use Drugs or Alcohol to sleep:
Marijuana, Melatonin pills (sleep pills) and alcohol don't produce real, quality sleep. They produce what Matthew Walker refers to as a "Sedative-like" sleep. In this type of sleep, your brain doesn't get to experience REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep that puts you into the deepest type of sleep waves.
4: If You're Wide Awake:
If you're wide awake in bed, walk around your house or do something to use up your energy. For example, another Doctor, Dr Cameron Sepah, says that a great way to fall asleep is to do as many push-ups as you can in one go, then take a quick hot shower to relax your body. This then allows you to fall into a nice, gentle sleep.
As always, we hope you enjoyed this article Musicspace family! If you found this valuable, please be sure to share the link with your friends or artist friends so they too can reap some knowledge!