I have been reading three life-changing books. The 4- hour workweek by Tim Ferriss, The One Thing by Garry Keller with Jay Papasan, and The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch. These three books have given me three questions that I live by.
1. If it was easy, what would it look like?
Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the work I do because I wear a lot of hats when it comes to Junkyard Groove and making music. I produce, write, sing, play, program, mix and master music. On top of which I run the website and marketing for the band and my brand.
When this happens, I take a step back and look at everything I'm doing from a distance and ask the simple question If it was easy, what would it look like?
Let me give you a simple example when I try and write a song I get inspired by an artist or a song and I want to recreate that sound of the song or artist. Initially, I try and copy the artist or song and it never sounds good. I keep thinking to myself, how do they make it look so easy? Then I ask the question "If it was easy, what would it look like?"
So I reverse engineer the song and then add my way of writing music. I draw from all the different genres of music. I listen to hip hop, gospel music, alternative rock, hard rock, metal, pop, folk, and more. Then I infuse the signature sound that I have developed which is unique to me and something new is created. The sound is familiar but still different because it has my fingerprint on it.
This question applies to everything I do music, photography, creating habits, artwork, etc.
2. What is the 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event?
Once I have reverse engineered a process like a marketing strategy, a song, or any other process, this is the next question I ask. "What is the 80% of outputs results from 20% inputs for any given event?"
With this question in mind, let me give you an example. After a song is written it has to be recorded, mixed, and mastered (the 80/20 rule also applies to the songwriting and the arranging process).
In the mixing stage, I use to try and "fix it in the mix". Spending hours mixing a song and the mix still use to sound dead.
Instead, now I spend more time and effort capturing a good performance from the source it simplifies my editing process. Then when I begin the mixing process, I do the basics that involve gain staging, setting a rough balance, and panning the tracks with the faders and pan knobs. In the next stage, use just an eq and compressor to get the mix to a level where it feels good where I am vibing to the song. If you concentrate all your effort into just these steps then, 80% of mixing work is more or less done.
“A minority of causes, inputs or effort usually leads to a majority of the results, outputs or rewards”. - Richard Koch -
80% of consequences flow from 20% of causes, or in other words, 80% of results come from 20% of the effort. This applies to anything you do in life. The idea is to work smarter.
3. What is the one thing?
This question ties into the 80/20 rule. Once I have identified the 20% that causes 80% of my results, I focus on the 20% in detail. In the previous example, we know that capturing a good performance is important to get a good rough balance, panning, eq, and compression of the tracks in the mix. This is where specialization comes into play. You need to practice each step and keep doing it till it becomes second nature to you. Always go back to the basics because if the foundation is not strong, no amount of mixing tricks are going to help you get a good mix. With that being said editing is a massive part of the mixing process that a lot of people overlook. This applies to everything you do.
In conclusion, this is how I clear out the clutter and simplify things when I feel like giving up or feel overwhelmed.