Time Management: How Musicians Can Triple Their Productivity

Divide Your Time Using the Productivity Pyramid

I first learned the concept of the Productivity Pyramid from entrepreneur Eben Pagan, and it has completely changed the way I look at time management. The idea is that all of the activities that you do fall into specific categories. Those categories are:

  1. High Lifetime Value
  2. High Immediate Value
  3. Low Immediate Value
  4. Zero or Negative Value
The Productivity Pyramid

The Productivity Pyramid

High Lifetime Value: Creating New Music, Practicing Your Instruments, Recording High Quality Videos, Building Relationships with People in the Industry

  • High Lifetime Value Activities are long-term activities that you will continue to receive benefits from for years to come.

High Immediate Value: Performing at Shows, Releasing New Music On Your Website,  Pitching Your Music to Publications and Blogs

  • High Immediate Value Activities are activities that have a huge immediate impact on your fans or music business activities.

Low Immediate Value: Researching the Latest Music Gear, Using Social Media To Connect With Your Fans, Accounting, Buying a New Outfit for a Show

  • Low Immediate Value Activities are activities that have a small immediate impact on your fans or music business but are still important. This category also includes busywork like accounting and checking your social media and website statistics.

Zero or Negative Value: Spamming People on Twitter, Watching Cat Videos on Youtube, Getting Your Stomach Pumped At The Hospital After Popping 17 Mollys

  • Zero or Negative Value Activities are procrastination activities and activities that take away from your music career.

Most people spend a majority of their time in the Zero or Negative Value Zone, and they wonder why their music careers are failing. Your goal as a musician should be to spend most of your time in the High Lifetime and High Immediate Value Zones. The items in the Low Immediate Value Zones are also important but should not overwhelm your schedule.

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Make Your Creative Time Habitual

The amount of time you spend actually making music is the most important factor in your success.

Make your creative time habitual. What time do you do your most creative work? Some people love working from 9pm to the wee hours of the morning. Others prefer to take on their creative work in the morning after a good night’s rest. Whatever your preference, decide on it and commit to it.

Attempt to do your music producing, songwriting, or instrument practicing at the same time each day. After a while, you will build momentum and won’t want to skip a day. I suggest getting a calendar and drawing a big X for every day that you keep up with the habit. It will keep you motivated.

Once you have decided what time of the day you are most creative, schedule all of your other obligations around it.

Simplify Your Life With Projects

One of the biggest mistakes I see musicians making is not  having clear goals which causes them to feel overwhelmed. By creating projects, it prevents overwhelm from happening.

Instead of saying, “I need to market my new mixtape”. Say, “I want my mixtape to be downloaded 10,000 times by March”. That way, you have a clear goal and you can work backwards to achieve it.

Your project then becomes:

The 10,000 Downloads Project [EXAMPLE]

  1. List all of the Activities Required To Reach That Goal

    • Create a Website Where Mixtape Can Be Downloaded

    • Create List of Bloggers To Pitch Music To

    • Upload Music to SoundCloud

  2. Determine the Approximate Amount of Time Each Activity Will Take

    • Create a Website Where Mixtape Can Be Downloaded – 2 Weeks

    • Create List of Bloggers To Pitch Music To – 3 Days

    • Upload Music to SoundCloud – 2 Hours

  3. Set A Deadline For Each of the Activities

    • Create a Website Where Mixtape Can Be Downloaded – February 15th

    • Create List of Bloggers To Pitch Music To – January 20th

    • Upload Music to SoundCloud – February 1st

  4. Schedule the Activities Into Your Calendar

Almost all projects should be things that would be placed in the High Lifetime Value Zone. Don’t waste your time on long-term projects that don’t produce long-term value!

Setting Up Your Calendar

I suggest using Google Calendar to because it syncs with pretty much all devices and is really easy to understand.

Make a different calendar for each zone of the Productivity Pyramid as well as for each of the other areas of your life. The categories you use can be as broad or specific as you like. A basic calendar would look like this:

  • Personal

  • Creative Time

  • Music – High Lifetime

  • Music – High Immediate

  • Music – Low Immediate

  • School/Work

A more detailed calendar would look like this:

  • Personal

  • Creative Time

  • Music – High Lifetime

  • Music – High Immediate

  • Music – Low Immediate

  • School/Work

  • Sleep

  • Exercise

  • Getting Ready

  • Food 

Example Musician's Calendar

Click to See In More Detail!

Planning Your Week and Day

The first step in planning your week is to put the most important tasks in your calendar first! Schedule in your Creative Time First!!! If you don’t, it will get pushed to the wayside. Next schedule your obligations and bare necessities like sleep, school/work, and getting ready.

The next things that should be scheduled is your project work and other tasks in the High Lifetime Value Zone. Schedule those items so that they fit in with the timeline and deadlines you set in your project plans, but don’t worry if you can’t realistically do it without killing yourself.

The last things you should schedule are the High Immediate and Low Immediate Zone activities. Also, don’t feel like you should pack your schedule just so you feel productive. It’s important to make sure that you leave some space in your calendar for emergencies and random sparks of inspiration!

If you’d like access to more insider information to help you grow a successful music career,  SIGN UP For the Music Career Insiders Newsletter.

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