Its late on Tuesday night, and you’ve forgot to buy the groceries that day. The kitchen cupboards are bare, so there’s nothing to be cooked. Your stomach growls at you in hunger, screaming “feed me” and you reluctantly decide that Turkish Kebab place down the road is your only option at this point. You return a few minutes later with that dirty kebab, and get back to work, having just spent more on the kebab than you would have done for about 2 days worth of food. Eventually after staring at the computer screen for another 2 hours, you feel sleepy and decide to call it a night – all due to that darn kebab. (What the hell – this is supposed to be about composing, not kebabs! OK, its a weird analogy – read on!)
Budgeting and scheduling – our lives revolve around it – not just in composing, but in our every day activities. Everytime we budget and schedule something, it has a knock-on effect further down the road and can unknowingly influence the outcome of the many facets of our lives.
I’ll be completely honest – I’m not great at budgeting OR scheduling, but in the past few months I’ve become a little better at both. However, this month’s SCOREcast theme is about Budgeting and Scheduling in relation to film – not for life in general, so I would like to to share a few ideas/techniques with you, that will (hopefully) help you to schedule your studio time better.
Increasing Productivity in the Studio
- Draw some boundaries. Keep your place of work seperate to your chillout/play area. Having a defining line between your work area, and your chillout area, allows your brain to focus a lot easier with less distractions. This has been mentioned a number of times on SCOREcast, and I’m sure all professional composers will tell you the same.
- Use templates in your DAW. Sick of having to load up instruments seperately every time you want to create a new cue/track. Why not create an empty template with your orchestra already set out for you – or go a step further, and have a number of different orchestral templates – ranging in size and dynamics.
- Take naps. Benjamin Franklin, John F. Kennedy, Thatcher, Clinton, Einstein, Da Vinci, Brahms, and Beethoven all have it in common. They all took power naps during the day. Even Winston Churchill had it down to a tee – “You must sleep some time between lunch and dinner and no halfway measures. Take off your clothes and get into bed. That’s what I always do. Don’t think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will accomplish more. You get two days in one – well, at least one and a half, I’m sure”.
- Plan your milestones. Create your goals for the day, then break them into smaller goals, and smaller goals again. In my experience, creating goals means absolutely nothing for me, as I usually say to myself “yes I know I need to finish this piece of music before the end of the day”. However, when you break it down into easy to digest pieces, it becomes a lot easier to see the end and know how to get there. Even if you for some reason don’t complete your goal for the day, you know exactly how many smaller goals you will have to complete in the morning to get there.
- Find your power band. Figure out what time of the day you are productive at, and try work with it. Most people are either morning people, or evening people. I don’t know as many people that are as productive in the day time, as they are at morning/night.
- Go silent. If you’re writing an email to a director/client, putting on your headphones blocks out outside noises, and can help you concentrate a lot more. Having no sound, or even just the sound of music, helps your brain stay on track and stay focused (I even know someone who listens to just pink noise as he works – I wouldn’t advise that though…)
- Update everything at once. If you use social networking as a marketing tool, try Ping.fm – it can update up to 40 social networks with one swift stroke – saving you the time of having to go into every single social platform that you use, and update them all one by one.
- Condensed communication. Able to type at the speed of light, and think you could talk to 4/5 people at the same time? Log into all of your chat programs at once with Pidgin. Its a lot more productive than having 5 different clients open at the same time – one for AIM, Gmail, MSN etc.
- Centralize your email. Manage all of your email accounts using Gmail. Gmail can manage all of your email accounts from your other websites – this saves you the time of having to log in to send/receive emails from other websites.
- Use shortcuts. Shorten the time used between turning your PC on, and starting up your programs – try using one of a number of programs like Launchy, AutoHotKey or I quite like Rocketdock. Launchy and Autohotkey both allow you to choose keystrokes or mouse movements to open programs in a flash. It might sound stupid, but when you’re in a rush, every minute counts.
I would like to leave you with a question, and look forward to discussing it in the COMMENTS:
“How much of an effect do you think that the availability of cheaper music licenses online, as well as the huge rise in amateur composers in the last number of years, has had on the film industry in terms of budgeting and scheduling?”