Friday, 15 March 2013

The big plan

Planning is an essential skill for anybody who wants to get something done. This can be anything from writing a song, or recording a whole album, or even putting up a live show. Every musician can benefit his or her carreer greatly by following this kind of process. It is simple and takes little extra time, but saves a lot of time later on.

If you have been following the previous posts on this blog, you will remember how I embarked on this exercise of planning. First I identified the problem. Then I deided on a mission, and then I broke the problem down into detail tasks. Today, I will show you how I visualized my plan on a simple spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets are handy for this kind of task, as most people have Excel already on their computers, or can download many alternatives for free.

To visualize the plan, I start by listing all the songs that I need to do more work on for each project. Then I added a column named YTD, meaning Year To Date. Here I make a note for everything that is already done on each song. For reference, my legend is shown at the bottom of the spreadsheet, i.e. W for words, M for melody, B for backtracks and V for vocals.

In the first column under YTD, I added a WM down for each song that the words and melody is written. A WMB means that the words, melody and backtrack is done. And an added V would mean the vocals are recorded as well. I changed the color of all the cells with work finished to green. Green means good.

Now, I add more columns; one extra column for each week. Next I start to plan time slots for every task. Let's look at an example.

First song listed under The exile is Singing comes cheap. Under the YTD column I have WM, meaning the words and melody is written, and I marked it green. Every song needs to have words, melody, backtracks and vocals, i.e. I still need to plan backtracks and vocals for this song. I added a B under the next column with a heading of 13/3/10. This means I have to finish the backtracks (B) before 2013, March, the 10th. Next I added the V under the next column, meaning then that I want to finish the vocals by March the 17th.

Then I moved on to the next song and plan a time slot for all the Bs and Vs, and so on. When I get to the songs where nothing is done yet, I added slots for the words and music in one week (WM). Preferably we should not put the B and V in the same week, to give the vocalists more time to record the tracks.

I estmate that each task will take about 5 hours to complete. In a normal week, where I work a normal 40 hour week for my day job, I can fit in another 20 hours at nights to work on this project. That means I must plan such that I do not have more than 4 tasks in the same week's column. When planning time slots, always start with projects where the time slots are dependant on other commitments. I started with this plan around the Rock fable project, as that also involve some collaborations with other people.

After finishing the whole grid, I ended up with the possibility of 20 songs that will be finished and recorded by June 16th. That will be pretty good going, and most likely a bit optimistic. That is more songs than most artists or bands record in two years, and they do it full-time. Ambitious, but let's give it a shot.

So, we can summarize by saying our objective is to record 20 songs by the middle of this year.

As we go along, we may sometimes fall behind in our plan, or at other times, we may get ahead. We will keep on updating our schedule every week by marking things in red when we fall behind, or in green as we finish things off.

Keep on watching this blog to see how I progress.


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