You know how it goes. You have the best intentions in the world to practice your instrument, finish that track or reach out to people you want to pitch your music to, but instead, you find yourself getting distracted or doing something completely different, like reorganizing your garage. Many musicians think they’re not consistent, but if there’s one thing they’re consistent with, it’s procrastination! In truth, we all fall into that bad habit at times, and there are good reasons for that. Why do we do this? And how do we move past it?
You live and breathe music, but you may not spend as much time engaging with your music career as you’d like. When you procrastinate, even though you’re not doing the thing you’re putting off, you’re still thinking about it and feeling guilty. Procrastination makes you waste time, energy, and makes it harder for you to focus on your creative practice. But fear not - it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are a few common reasons you procrastinate, and what to do instead.
The thing you’re trying to do feels difficult, or boring
Working on what you love doesn’t mean it’s always easy or comfortable. And I get it, sometimes it feels much more attractive to go play with your dog. Maybe you’re attempting to eat the whole elephant at once (trying to figure out your new tech in one go) rather than eating it one bite at a time (focusing on the next step, like watching a tutorial and doing one simple thing). Maybe there’s a lack of clarity about which steps you should take, which makes you feel stuck.
Break down your big goal into mini-steps and just focus on the next action, before moving onto the next one. Sometimes the hardest part is to start, and once you do, you’re usually fine. Motivational speaker Mel Robbins shares the ‘5 second rule’ where the moment you feel yourself hesitate, you count backwards 5-4-3-2-1-GO and just move into action, no questions asked.
You have high expectations (and deep down, you may not feel good enough)
You’re trying to make the ‘perfect’ track and the pressure takes all the fun out of the creative process. And when you’re not happy with the results, you end up beating yourself up. You may even hear a voice in your head which sends you into a self-doubt spiral, telling you you’re not a ‘real’ musician because you took a break somewhere along the way.
So procrastinating is actually a great way to avoid possible disappointment and self-judgment. The procrastinator in you is acting like a protection mechanism, doing its job to keep you safe and as far away as possible from the inner critic’s wrath.
When you dig deep into the fears or blocks at the root of your procrastination, and use coaching techniques and practices to overcome them, you’re working on the root cause rather than on the symptom. Procrastination is more of a mindset issue than a time management one: facing the fears, weakening the inner critic and building your confidence will help you approach your creative pursuits in an entirely different way.
There’s resistance around putting the effort into your music career.
After all, there is no guarantee of returns. Distractions like social media, or doing another task that makes you feel like you accomplished something, can give you a sense of instant gratification. You may also feel low on energy, trying to fit your creative practice around your day job and other responsibilities.
In those moments, remember why doing the thing you’re procrastinating on, matters. Why is it important that you finish that track, or learn that new software? What becomes possible when you do, that wasn’t possible before? And how can you reward yourself for showing up, so it all feels worth it?
By bringing awareness to the reasons behind your procrastination, and lessening the fears and resistance, you’ll find it easier to take action and not stay stuck in avoidance. This is not just about getting shit done, but about you nurturing a sense of achievement and creative fulfillment. And about using your precious time to focus on what you love most: making music.
Ariane is a life and career coach and founder of Olympia Coaching. She helps musicians overcome what holds them back, and find clarity, focus and confidence, so they can get to the next level and feel creatively fulfilled. Check out her programs and free resources now https://olympiacoaching.com/
From a Frustrated Producer in a Ragtag Bedroom Studio to Major Placements on TV Earning $1,000s!
My name is Evan, and I've been making music since around 3rd grade. I'm from San Diego, California, but I've lived in Washington, DC for the last 20 years.
While I still have a full-time day job, I have created systems that have allowed me to produce dozens of songs a year in my spare time.
My songs have been on Netflix, TV shows like the 90 Day Fiance, an award-winning indie film, and NPR’s “All Thing Considered.” They've also been streamed millions of times.
In addition to being a music producer, I am passionate about teaching people how they can make professional-sounding music and earn money licensing it, all in their spare time.
Thousands of musicians, like yourself, have trusted me to guide their musical journey. My YouTube videos have been watched nearly a million times. And my story has been in Forbes, Side Hustle Nation, and the Side Hustle School.