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Seven Tips (And More) In The Quest For Focus

As we embark on a new year, here are some ways to stay engaged and at the top of our game...

As we embark on a new year, I thought it might be a good idea to discuss some ways to stay engaged and focused.

Particularly for those who have been working in pro audio for several years, there are many who probably come to feel (at least occasionally) bored, uninspired or behind the curve, as one month leads to the next, and to the next, and to the next…

So here are seven things I’ve found helpful over the years in the quest to stay sharp and on top of the game. Note that this list isn’t definitive – you may have additional ideas and methods.

1) Learn. There are a plethora of seminars, workshops, trade shows and other ways to stay on to of current technologies and techniques. Take a look at the SynAudCon roster of in-person and online training courses as a starter. Trade shows like InfoComm and AES provide ample educational seminars, papers and panel discussions, usually with industry leaders at the podium.

Then there are the more informal approaches, including books, DVDs and yes, YouTube videos. (Just be sure to read the reviews and comments for the less-vetted sources.) Or, download an operating manual for something like a digital mixing desk and start reading!

2) Humble. This is one of my “broken record” topics (along with gain structure). But throughout my years in this business, I’ve often noticed that the best and brightest show remarkable humility. Even if they’re highly opinionated (and get in trouble for it once in a while), the true “gurus” got where they are by keeping their minds open, realizing that even with their accomplishments, there are still many things to learn.

There are always new ideas, new technologies, and better ways to do almost anything. Being open to these possibilities keeps things interesting.

3) Avoid the rut. You know the saying about doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, right? Sometimes we forget that this applies to our careers as well. There’s nothing that can make us more bored (and/or jaded) than rote repetition. (See the excellent Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day for more on this subject.) Waiting for something different to happen? Then make it so!

For example, if you’ve been mixing rock ‘n’ roll for years on the same circuit, how about mixing some jazz instead? Or perhaps think about taking on a new role with the same crew just to learn a new skill, like lighting for instance. (Wait – did I just say that?) Or try a new mic technique, or experiment with live recording, or…anyway, you get the idea. Anything to avoid getting stuck in a rut.

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