I am not always as productive as I could hope to be because finding the time to manage various tasks can be quite a challenge. As musicians, we have a diverse range of responsibilities including everything from recording to marketing, performance to teaching, and each of these tasks we may complete each and every day.

With so many duties, it’s important to find time to fit them all in and be as productive as possible. Personally, I like to be and to feel productive all the time, but being 100% productive just isn’t possible. Sometimes our bodies and our minds just need a break, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to make the most of the time you do work. Here is a round-up of the best productivity advice I’ve found.


Make a decision and take action. We can waste a lot of time planning and worrying over the results, but worry and planning are just another form of procrastination. Make a decision and take action, don’t spend too much time weighing and comparing options.

Deal with emails, comments, etc. once. Don’t leave emails and comments for later. Open them, read them and then respond. Filing things for later ensures that they won’t get done and also requires you do “read” or go back to tasks that you could have finished immediately more than once.

Do the hardest thing FIRST. Start your day out by completing the hardest thing or whatever you want to do the least first. The rest of the day will be a breeze from there on out.

Stop whining and/or making excuses. If you have time to whine, then you have time to work. Stop wasting time with excuses and just DO. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can only work/practice/compose when you are in the mood, just sit down to work even when you aren’t inspired. If you get into the habit of creating only when you feel motivated, you can go weeks at a time without practicing/writing/composing/working. Eventually it will feel weird missing these planned parts of your day.

Track your progress. Having a visible way to track your progress not only motivates you continue being productive, but gives you a way to keep yourself in check. Great apps for this are Teuxdeux which lets you cross of your to do list, Lazymeter which measures your productivity and a simple Don’t Break the Chain sheet which lets you cross off the days you accomplished your goals. I write more about apps you can use to be productive in this article.


Arrange your workspace with the things you need most often within reach. Instead of getting up from your desk every five minutes to get a sheet of music paper or a new pencil, keep the items that you use most often nearby and remove everything else that you don’t need (and that can serve as a distraction).

Pay attention to your posture. Did you know that your posture affects how you think? It’s called “embodied cognition.” Sitting up straight helps your ideas flow more freely.

Don’t multitask. Dedicate your attention to one task at a time. You’ll not only get more done, but you’ll also do what your doing better. Don’t start a new task until you’ve finished the previous.


Recharge daily. Take a break everyday so that you can “reset your batteries” and recharge. There are a lot of ways to do this – some people work in 25 minute intervals with 5 minute breaks, others work through the day and relax in the evening or vice versa. Some might even take a focus supplement if they feel themselves getting a fatigued before they ideally would like to stop working. Figure out what works for you and stick to it.


Thinking Things are “Good Enough.” Remember that there is always room for improvement, so don’t stop finding reasons to learn/grow/produce because you think things are fine or “good enough.” Remember that “good enough” isn’t “great” and “great” isn’t “amazing.”

Overwhelming Sense of Urgency. Feeling like things need to be completed right now is actually quite destructive and we end up wasting time keeping busy rather than actually accomplishing anything.

So what do you do to keep organized and stay productive?

Want to learn more about things like this? Check out our popular FREE eBook – Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals.

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.

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