132 – How to be Happier & More Productive in 2019

by | Jan 24, 2019 | Podcast

Are you looking to make 2019 your best year yet? Are you looking for a better way to plan your schedule and activities?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I review a method I refer to as “defaults”. By setting defaults in your life, you can significantly cut down on wasted time, get more done, and foster more happiness in your life.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:34 – Getting more done in 2019 with defaults
  • 01:27 – How defaults work
  • 03:18 – Setting your defaults
  • 10:45 – My methods for planning and organizing are constantly changing


Are you looking to get more done in your music career in 2019? Then this podcast episode is for you.

Last year I shared about a concept I call “defaults”.

The idea here is that you have a default plan for your day. What this does is it eliminates wasted time and energy.

If we’re constantly having to think about what to do now and then what to do next, then a lot of our time is being wasted having to plan moment by moment. A much easier and more productive way to go about your day is to have a clear plan and to follow it.

Time blocking is a popular way to go about this. People will use tools like calendar apps or spreadsheets to color code different parts of their schedule and account for every hour in their days and weeks.

So, maybe they would use red blocks to indicate when they’re going to be practicing their instrument. They would use blue blocks to indicate when they’re in a rehearsal, and so on.

If you’re a particularly organized person, I think this might be a great way to ensure you’re doing the right things to achieve your musical goals.

A default is far more flexible and less rigid. It’s a bit like conditional statements in computer programming:

If this, then that.

For instance, let’s say you typically rehearse with your band on Thursday night. We’ll call this variable A. If A happens, then you go to rehearsal. We’ll call this variable B. But rehearsals will sometimes get cancelled or moved to another night. That’s variable C. Finally, you have variable D, which is what you do by default when C happens.

When A happens, B is your default. When C happens, D is your default.

Let’s say you typically have Wednesday nights free and you’re looking for something to do.

If you leave this to chance, you’ll probably just end up sitting on your couch and binge-watching Netflix. But you’re looking for something more worthwhile to do with your time.

So, you could have going to an open mic on Wednesday night as a default. You don’t necessarily need to decide which open mic to go to. You would simply hold Wednesday night as your open mic night and keep that plan in front of you. And, of course, you’d follow through with that plan.

The benefits of going to an open mic as a musician are obvious. You can network with other musicians, gain live performance experience, sell some merch and maybe even get booked for a feature or a gig.

Now, it’s all well and good that defaults can set you up to be more productive.

That’s something I addressed in last year’s podcast episode too.

I mentioned that rest, leisure, entertainment and even spontaneous fun could all be made defaults in your life.

For instance, if you know that you don’t typically have any work to do on Monday, you could have going to the mountains as your default. Getting out into nature is good. It’s refreshing. You can get some exercise. And, it could be a good opportunity to think and reflect, too.

The value of regular reflection can’t be overstated, so just in case, here’s a little reminder – please remember to reflect, at least on a monthly basis!

Now that I’ve introduced the topic, why don’t we go back and listen to episode 76 which was all about setting defaults for yourself?

You can find 076 – Setting Your Defaults here

And I’m back to wrap up today’s episode.

Now, I should let you know that my methods of planning and organizing are always changing.

Last year, defaults made a lot of sense to me. This year, things are a little different.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that I continue to use a desk calendar and yellow legal pad to plan my life. Honestly, it’s come to the point where I feel naked without these items.

Recently, I’ve been feeling the need to digitize my calendar as well, though I am somewhat reluctant to go in that direction. While I do work from home, I’m often on the go because of meetings, events, open mics, performances, recording sessions and so on.

But you might be wondering why I decided to revisit this idea of setting your defaults with you if it’s not something I’m actively doing right now.

That’s because I still see value in it, and I want to continue to share with you any ideas that may help you better organize your schedule, be more productive and happier overall.

If it’s not this method, then there will be another that’s right for you. Though I’ve adopted some of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology, I’ve tailored it to my needs. You can do the same things with defaults.

And, ultimately, productivity doesn’t change that much. Regardless of what method you use, you’re going to need to be diligent and intentional about the process.

As some of my mentors always used to say, success doesn’t happen by accident. So, start planning!

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