One Reason You're Not Making As Much Music As You Would Like (Hint: You're Looking At It)

2014 Jul 21, 2014

If you’re reading this I will assume you are a music maker. Perhaps a singer, songwriter, engineer, producer, band member, composer, or some epic combination of all six.

From there I assume that you want to make great music, and lots of it.

But let me guess: you never seem to have enough time in the studio as you would like. Your life is full (which is a good thing), but you’d love to have just a bit more time to work on your passion of creating the world’s best music.

What would you say if I told you that there is one simple reason you’re not getting as much done in the studio as you would like, and it has nothing to do with your busy life? In fact, it has everything to do with me.


Via Steve Davis Flickr

The Low-Information Diet

Well, me and every other audio resource out there. You see, your time is finite. It’s limited. You can manage it all you want, but until you do this one simple thing, you’ll never “have enough” of it to spend on your passion: music making.

What is that one thing? You need to go on a low-information diet.

You read that right. The guy who writes an audio blog and creates training tutorials for a living is telling you to stop consuming so much information.

In one of my favorite books of all time The 4 Hour Work Weekauthor Tim Ferriss has very simple but powerful chapter called “The Low-Information Diet” where he explains this concept very clearly. If you haven’t read the book, do yourself a favor and pick it up when you have a chance. His section on “elimination” alone is worth the price.

In that chapter Ferriss quotes Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon to illustrate this painfully (not so) obvious concept:

What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it. – Herbert Simon

Did you catch that?

Having a wealth of information (blogs, YouTube videos, magazines, textbooks) as great and powerful as it is, only results in less available attention (i.e. focused time) to spend on whatever it is you want/need to spend it on.

Information and attention work like a business transaction. Information is the good being sold, and attention is the currency. Once you’ve spent your attention on consuming information, you are either out of or low on “currency.”

Just like with real money, our attention needs to be spent wisely and with intentionality.

If You Want To Make More (And Better) Music

So, if you’re catching this simple drift then it comes right back to the point of this post: you making more music in your studio.

That’s the goal. And not just more music, but better sounding music. That’s my goal for you as the founder of this site.

So how can you take this concept of a low-information diet and apply it to your music making?

The first thing you can do is trim the fat.

Cut out most of your information sources in the realm of music making. Stop reading magazines, stop gorging yourself on audio blog posts (yes, even this one if you must) and podcasts, quit aimlessly crushing YouTube video tutorial after video tutorial.

The time and attention you free up from consuming all this information (even if it’s only 15 minutes here and there) can then be spent on actually mixing, recording, songwriting, or gigging.

Whatever it is you never seem to find time and energy to do.

Your 7 Day Challenge

Let’s make this practical.

For the next 7 days I want you to track something. Every time you sit down at your computer or whip out your phone to read an interesting audio blog or watch a video tutorial or read your favorite recording magazine, I want you write down on a piece of paper “15 Minutes”.

Each time you go to write down another “15 Minutes” add it up to the previous entries so you calculate a cumulative time. For example if twice each day you find yourself sitting down to read a post or watch a YouTube video, you will be calculating 30 minutes each day.

Why 15 minutes?

Well, it’s a random average amount of time that you never intend to spend and almost don’t notice having lost when you read or watch something short. It’s pretty common, and seemingly harmless. But some simple math will reveal that someone who simply checks out a couple of posts a day can easily drop 30 minutes on information consumption.

That’s an extra 3.5 hours a week you just “found” that could be devoted to music making. It’s like magic!

So for the next 7 days track your information consumption with these 15 minute chunks and see where a typical week takes you. I’ll bet the time it reveals you’re losing will surprise you.

And do me one more favor. Leave a comment below and share what you plan on doing with all this extra time you free up after taking this 7 day challenge.

It will motivate you to actually take the challenge and see if you can go from attention poverty to a wealth of time and attention to spend on the things you love!

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