Time To Take A Break – When And Why To Take A Break From Your Home Recording Studio
Being dedicated and committed to your work in your recording studio are essential ingredients to making it a successful one. Hard work will always pay off. There comes a time though when taking a break from the studio is not just a good idea, but an essential one.
This will probably not seem like a very important subject, but if you look more carefully at the times when and reasons why you should take a break, its importance will become more apparent. The time and effort you will save, will more than make up for the time spend away from your home recording studio.
We take a look why and when it will be a good idea to get some rest and get away from your studio.
Taking Break In General
I think we all know how quickly we can get engrossed with our work inside the studio, especially when it comes to mixing. It is easy to loose track of time and when you look again, more than three hours have flown past and you are so sore and stiff, getting up can be a painful experience.
Getting up every hour to hour and a half to take a break is very important. This literally helps to promote your health. By standing, stretching and taking a walk, you are not just working your muscles and joints that have been stagnated for more than a hour, you are also kick-starting and promoting blood flow. This stimulates and refresh your whole body and brain.
Speaking of the brain, taking a break is essential for mental function as well. You can only perform mentally optimal for so long. Battling to think clearly, solve problems and just getting that familiar "dull" feeling in your head are all indicators of mental fatigue.
You will not only feel more awake and be able to think clearly after some time and activity away from the studio. You will also find yourself more productive and even be able to solve some issues you were battling with before your break.
Signs That You Need To Take A Break
There are obvious and tell-tale signs that you are getting tired and need to take a break right away. If you your eyes are already starting to burn and you need to start squinting often to read the data on screen properly, you already surpassed the point where you needed to stop. (And we all know that "foggy" and lethargic feeling we all experience when we have overextended ourselves.)
There are more subtle signs though that you are reaching the point where you seriously need to consider stop and get out of the studio for a while:
- You need to listen to a track numerous times before determining what to do with it to correct a potential problem, and make the right call as to what tools to use to produce the desired result. (At the start of your session, it was easy to identify flaws in a track, and could easily determine what technique and which tools to use to make the necessary corrections.) This is normally a sign that your concentration levels have dropped too far in order for you to be productive.
- You start to miss obvious and hard-to-miss mistakes in your recording. This is normally an indication that your ears are not at sharp as they were at the start of your session. Like any other part of you body's senses (eyes, nose, taste etc.), your ears can only be focused on continuously listen to any sound attentively for a certain period of time before they start to tire and not able to perform optimally anymore.
There are numerous other indicators that you need a break, but you should have some clear indicators by now as to what to look out for.
Taking A Break To Get "The Big Picture"
It is very easy get bog down with all the details. This not so much an issue during the recording process, especially if you did you planned properly. This is more common during the mixing process.
Obviously it is important to focus on the details and make sure you get everything sounding right, synchronized, and all flaws are removed or reduced as much as possible. It becomes a problem when you spend so much time focusing one every possible detail right, that you loose track of the project as a whole.
Stepping back every once in a while and measure and judge your work against the "big picture" of what you trying to create, will help you to keep perspective, stay on course and focus less on the elements that is not that important at all.
Taking A Break After A Big Meal
Here's a small biology fact which many of you are probably aware of. Blood normally flows and concentrate around the area that needs it most at any given time.
When you exercise and you work a specific muscle, that muscles gets that "pumped" feeling after a while. That is the blood accumulating in your muscle to help repair and muscle damage and help with recuperation.
The same happens when you had a very large meal. Your stomach and digestive track is tacking a lot of strain and needs plenty of support. Guess where your blood rush to and accumulate?
And guess where there is not a lot of blood flow present at that very moment? Around your brain where it is needed, where proper blood flow is essential optimal cognitive function. Ever wondered why you feel so sleepy and lethargic after a big meal? Now you know.
That is where there is no way you can do some effective and productive mixing after a big meal. Your blood flow needed around your brain, is now busy helping you digestive deal with all the newly arrived nutrients.
You just won't be able to concentrate properly and have a clear mind to make good decisions. Give yourself a short break until you feel awake and alert again to hit the studio.
Taking A Break After A Long Recording Session
It has been a long day in the studio. After an eight hour long recording session, you may just be more than physically tired. You are most probably completely mentally drained as well.
The worst thing you can do at this moment, is to jump in and immediately start mixing. Not only are you tired and as a result unable to properly concentrate, you have also overworked two key assets you need when working on a mix: You ears and judgement.
Your ears have already been pushed to their limits concentrating on each take during the recording session. Like any other part of your body they need proper rest to function optimally. Getting a proper 6-8 hours sleep in, where your ears are also given a break and not exposed to any sound sources that will make them work, is always a good idea.
The same applies to your judgement. After a day recording in the studio, you have been listening to each session, judging what sounded right, what needs to be adjusted and which take should be recorded again.
There is no way you can move directly to mixing after a recording session, thinking you will be able to think straight and make sound judgement calls. This is when you start making bad mistakes and actually end up wasting time, as you will probably listen your mix later on when refreshed only to realize how badly you judged and messed up your mixing attempts.
How Often And For How Long?
How often you should take a break as well as how for long, is entirely up to you. As a general rule, many experts believe that it's not possible to work productively for more than 2 hours without taking a break.
I have found however, that people differ significantly when it comes to the length of time individuals are able to concentrate and be productive. Some people may be able to concentrate for an hour while some exceptions to the rule can go three hours nonstop and still be fully productive.
This is something you will have to determine for yourself and only over time and through trial and error, you will be able see what works best for you.
One thing to keep in mind though, is that the amount of rest you take should pretty much be equal to the amount of work you have put in. This may not be set in stone but in general, the more often you take a break, the shorter they can be and the quicker you will be able to get back to work. If you have been working for a few hours non-stop though, your breaks should be longer as well in order for you to recuperate enough to be able to put in another few hours of hard work.
By now you should get a pretty good idea of the advantages of taking some time off from your studio. (You are probably also pretty tired of the words, "taking a break" by now!) It will obviously differ from person to person on how much time and when it will be ideal to get some rest. Just do yourself a favor and get that rest when you really need it.
As always, feel free to leave me any comments or suggestions you may have, and I will respond will try and get to them as soon as I can.
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Catch you in the next article and happy recording!