Songwriter U: Six Tips to Get You Organized (Especially During the Holiday)

It’s the holiday season which means either you’re the busiest you’ve been all year, and/or you’re forgetting to do some things you need to do.

For me, it’s the busiest I’ve been all year because, on top of writing last-minute briefs, scheduled co-writes, and my coaching business, I’m moving to Nashville. During this process, there are SO MANY BOXES in my life. So I’m here filling physical boxes as well as ticking off the boxes on my to-do list. 

I’m busy, but I’m not completely overwhelmed, and I’m looking around going, “This is manageable”… So I ask myself, why is what I’m doing working, even during the busiest time, and how can it help you? 

A great end to the year can also mean a great start to the year, and I want you to be able to keep up your pace (in a manageable way) so you don’t lose all the progress you’ve made to the slow winter months. We all know the slump that comes after the holidays, but it doesn’t have to this year.

So it’s 9:09 in the morning, I have a couple of weeks until I get in a moving truck, my house is currently filled with big brown boxes and what am I doing? Tuning vocals. Why? Because I’m committed to this song and we have a timeline set. 

So even during a crazy time like moving during the holidays, I’m able to do it because of six main things: 

  1. Write everything down, and list it in order of importance.

If you have a million things to do, don’t let it just fester in your mind. Get it on paper, take a step back, and list it in order of what needs to get done first. 

  1. Make timelines and get it on the calendar.

Take the things that will take the longest as well as the most important things you have and put them in the calendar first, then build around that. This is your accountability for yourself. Be realistic and don’t set goals you know you won’t be able to make. 

  1. Get specific and break it into sizeable chunks

Being realistic comes from knowing how long certain things take for you. The only way to know is if you start breaking down your process into steps, and schedule those steps in the calendar. Getting as specific and chunky as possible will help you do the thing, I promise. 

  1. Be accountable 

Tell whoever you’re working with your realistic timeline and the dates you have set for your goals. I often text my co-writers with a, “Hey, I’ll send you a rough mix tomorrow”, not an, “I’ll send you something soon”. When you tell someone what you’re going to do, it sticks better. If you aren’t working with anyone at the moment, it’s important to stay accountable to yourself. Try asking a friend if they’ll be your accountability partner and tell them what your goals and dates are for your project. Ask them to check in if they don’t hear from you. 

  1. Follow through (Don’t be an asshole) 

In a perfect world it goes without saying, but follow through with what you committed to!  If you’re having trouble getting yourself to do things in time, you’re risking your reputation. If I tell an artist that I‘ll have this done by the end of the day and I don’t, it says to them, “Mike doesn’t mean what he says”. It’s not only my reputation on the line, but it’s my future writing happiness; I’m writing with people who I want to write with in the future, so it’s important to keep a great working relationship. And when writing with a bigger goal in mind, like getting music into libraries or when working with supervisors, it takes accountability to a whole new level. So start practicing it now if you have big goals.

  1. Follow a daily routine and work-in self-care (All year!)

This is a far bigger topic than just a bullet point on a list. And if you’re not already doing it, the busiest time of year likely isn’t the time to try to change everything that you’re doing. Just keep in mind, you have nothing if you don’t have your health. The best way to take care, and keep taking care, is to build habits. They are gratifying and they truly work. If this feels tough, it’s all about starting; start with just one thing a day this month and see how it feels. 

These are the things that work for me, and keep me going through busy times, but in the long run, you have to find what works for your life. Your music career is a marathon, not a sprint, so you need to keep your health and your relationships at the center of importance.

 

Mike Meiers is an Emmy Award-Winning songwriter, producer, and guitar coach. Mike currently writes for indie artists, has had placements for MTV, VH1 NPR, FOX Sports, History Channel, Showtime, and Target. He’s also the founder of Songwriting For Guitar, helping songwriters enhance their guitar skills so they can write better songs and get them out into the world! If you love fun and educational podcasts with caffeinated hosts and insightful guests, visit and subscribe to the Songwriting for Guitar Podcast.

Photo: Getty Images

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