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Planning and Prioritizing Projects in the Modern Project Studio.

Artist development for the modern musician requires new skills. Some of these fundamental skills can easily go unnoticed, and their importance unbeknown to the individual. The skills of planning and prioritizing are VITAL, now, more than ever. This is the new music business. All the information ever recorded in history is pretty much available, all the tools are out there, those ideas that you have every single day… They’re not going to stop. BUT THATS GOOD! It does however mean that we have to consciously choose what we allow ourselves to focus on. Therefore knowing what matters leads us into how to get there… Which leads us into developing a plan and prioritizing the pieces.

“Why is that? and what are you talking about? I don’t plan stuff… I go with the flow, I just live in the moment man… whatever happens dude…”

C’mon bro, 21st century, lets get with it. We can go with the flow once we are where we want and need to be to do that without worry or limitation. Don’t get me wrong… its all about living in the moment… thats all we will ever have… But unless we are making conscious decisions to sacrifice and work now so we can play later, one day we just may wake up stranded with our ship stuck on the reefs.

Why is planning and prioritizing so critical… Well unless its not obvious yet, lets get practical.

Planning is the disciplined step before action. Just as thought comes before action, so planning comes before execution.

Let’s take a combat mission in Baghdad, for example.

Without a goal and a purpose, what exactly would we be doing? I don’t know… Whatever we wanted.

Our mission is our goal. At the lowest level, infantrymen carry out the duties necessary to make the mission successful at all costs for that day.

Ok, that’s really simple… well yes, it is. But bare with me.

Without planning, we’d be missing a critical step in the process. By not having a plan we’d make our jobs infinitely harder, and we wouldn’t have a roadmap. Prioritizing = what is most important in order of highest to lowest as relative to variable factors which determine importance.

Not much more needs to be said here. Planning and prioritizing projects is critical.

The roadmap doesn’t even need to be perfect. It just needs to be the best one you can create knowing what you know. Just keep marching. Learn from what doesn’t work, and acknowledge what does. You need to just keep marching.

It’s not to say everything goes according to plan… It quite often does not. It is however, in the process of planning that we coordinate a strategy, or at least a targeted projection for how we are going to make what we need to happen, happen – given the resources, timeframe, and overall objectives.

Why is it more important now more than ever?

well it’s partly… just something most people don’t do… But its also a fundamental component to being successful in the new music business.

Its not what you do. Its how you do it. Therefore the way you go about doing it means the difference between doing it right, and… not.

It’s not about how much we can get done in a day. Its about the importance of what we spend OUR time on, and how well we do THAT. Once we know what we actually want we can determine the things that need to happen to get there… This is planning, at its root form.

Since we cannot do all this stuff at once. We need to drill down a bit further and determine a logical sequence of what we can do, when we can do it, and what “doing that” actually entails.. This phase is where we separate the men from the boys, so to speak…

This is called prioritizing. This is how we CAN manage to do all we can where we are with what we’ve got. This is critical, and how we get more stuff done in a week than most people will get done in a month, quarter, etc.

Before you get ahead of yourself and indulge an arrogant internal grin, understand that their are people who have no limits on financial resources, and have mastered doing this over an entire life-time…

Prioritizing is not complicated. It is however a more thorough, and focused part of the planning process… It requires discipline, creative imagination, and logic. This is not necessarily easy. Although it is fairly simple in its nature.

For me, there are two ways to prioritize…  Review structured project planning prioritization, & Daily work-block prioritization.

They both adhere to the same fundamental principle… Thought precedes action. Long & short term.

Things change… Priorities can shift, and not go according to plan… This is called life. Therefore the ability to micronize and internalize the process of prioritizing is more important than the resulting plans.

Here’s how i’ve done it…

Gone through and fleshed out all the big outcomes, projects, tasks, deliverables and pieces that need to happen, after working my way down from my vision and major goals…

Then i’ve factored in my current restraints in resources, urgent priorities, responsibilities, financial limitations, and other variable realities which narrow down the options for prioritizing and working in the moment, doing WHATS important, and doing ALL i can WHERE i am, with WHAT i’ve got to work with.

Prioritizing your projects is as important as the efficiency and effectiveness with which you tackle the endless list of important tasks…

Since it is the same in any thing you do… Vision is the picture of what we want. This is daydreaming, the right way. This is creating the image, painting the picture in clear detail of the goal and results we’ve committed to and actively pursue.

The planning process is for how we are going to obtain this.

Invariably there is one end all be all…

And not so ironically, PURPOSE for what you are doing is the key factor in determining both the reason for the task, and the priority of the project.

When you think about it… All we can do is what we are doing at any given moment. We cannot work in yesterday. And we cannot work in tomorrow.

Therefore the planning process must include a prioritizing of which projects, in addition to a sequencing of steps.

This should be done weekly. Bi-weekly, or at most monthly. I have personally found that weekly is most effective, and makes me feel most “in control” and locked into the groove.

-ALRIGHT ALRIGHT… So I know what i want… Where do i go from here?

Well let me ask you a couple questions…

What skills will you have to obtain to do what you want to do?

What kinds of sacrifices are you willing to make to bring that into reality?

Write them down.

What can you do now to move closer to that?

Ok… Well now that you’ve come up with a vision that makes you feel good, and fired up… You’ve also been flooded with a ton of reasons why you cannot do it… What are they? Address them logically, and be determined to not allow them to hold you back.

Write them down. Refer to them when you need to.

If you enjoyed this, or have something to say… Please, share it with me!

Since this is my singer songwriter blog, here are my priorities as it relates to what i do to make a living, and have a successful, fulfilling career in the new music business.

My craft: My vocal chops, my songwriting, and my guitar chops.

My skills: Marketing, leadership, delegation, communication, project management.

Have fun making great music,