How Should I spend my time?

The eternal question. Especially when it comes to freelance or creative work. 

There are so many different things you could be doing at any moment (like writing blog posts :P) and sometimes it can feel overwhelming to know where to start.

Definitely (probably) not me

I’m not some kind of work robot (nor should anyone want to be) but I think I’ve worked out my way of keeping on task whilst not feeling like my every waking moment is filled with anxiety about all the work I could/should be doing!

For me it took a while, but I realised fairly quickly giving myself a short list of tasks to complete every day was the best method for me. I always make sure also to keep them concise, simple and achievable. After brief forays into giving myself epicly long lists of work to do every day I realised, rather quickly, that wasn’t going to work for me. This isn’t to say that once I complete my list I’m “done” for the day. Sometimes that’s the case and it can be incredibly liberating, but also it means that I can focus the rest of my time on other areas. These could be:

  • Looking for new work (on forums and social media platforms)
  • Practising my skills, whether at sound design, composing or playing 
  • Checking out the work of others in my field 
  • Playing games (OH NO HE SAID IT!)
  • Writing blog posts
  • Planning out tasks for the week

This is a specifically work focussed list, so when I say “playing games”, in this context I mean that in the sense of games specific to projects I am/wish to be working on, with a critical and analytical mindset. 

For many of you this advice might seem rather simple, and I think that’s because there isn’t really any “secret” to using your time effectively, beyond doing so mindfully. In these “modern times” of working from home, it’s very easy to see the fact that you could effectively be sat at your desk all day “working” and then feel like you haven’t achieved a thing. If I was to be able to talk to myself a few years ago, I’d ask myself these questions:

“Who are you trying to achieve for?”

“What are you wanting?”

“Why are you trying to make it all happen straight away?”

I know myself fairly well, and I know that I can be incredibly impatient when it comes to seeing results, whereas in industries like music and audio the results can take a loooooooong time to appear. Plus often when you see the “results” of your labour, you may have actually done the work some time ago. This sense of “delayed gratification” can be very common in the world of music and sound, due to the fact you work on all this stuff and then when you finally get to hear it “out in the world,” it might be quite a few years later. 

I think if I were to tell my younger fresh faced self one thing, it’d be to let myself know that every action I took to take myself to a place where I’m currently working on a number of different projects including doing the implementation, was a step on the journey. I’m still not a “full time” composer or sound designer, but it takes up more of my time than it used to, and I absolutely love all the work I do. I wouldn’t claim to be any kind of expert, but if you (whoever you are, hello by the way!) want some specific things to be spending your time on as you muddle your way through the fun but sometimes overwhelming world of audio, it’d be this:

  • Practice your craft
  • Start making the stuff for the projects you’d like to get
  • Practice putting the stuff you’ve made in context, videos or game demos
  • Reach out to other people in the industry, whether to let them know you like their stuff, or for work
  • Use the stuff you’ve made to create sample packs to sell online (blog on this coming soon!)
  • Don’t be that guy who endlessly posts on facebook and forums saying “Do you need sound and music?” everyone does that. Be more creative and personable with your approach!
  • Have fun
  • Relax

The last two points are in many ways the most important. Play games for fun, relax in the knowledge that this world is hard to break into, so as long as you are having fun while trying you can’t be doing anything too wrong! Take time off, and don’t sweat if you feel you aren’t “making it”, as that is so non-specific a goal, that you couldn’t possibly reach it even if you already had!

The road is long but the journey is worth it.

If you have any specific questions or would like personally tailored advice, contact me at samdtsound@gmail.com No question too specific, no worry too small!

Sam xoxo

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