Five housekeeping tips to improve your workflow and protect your projects:
- Label and color code your tracks as you work. Nothing slows down the production process more than trying to remember if the bass is on channel 6 or channel 17. I organize my channels as follows: kick, snare, hats/shakers/top loops, percussion, whooshes/fx, bass, synths/instruments, and vocals.
- Make use of your DAW's locator markers. As you make progress on your arrangement, it's incredibly handy to be able to immediately jump to the verses, choruses, breakdowns, intro, and outro sections of your track. When you're in a state of "flow", every second counts.
- Learn key commands for as many common operations as you can. If you find yourself going to your DAW's pull-down menus all the time, something's amiss.
- Every time you make a noteworthy change to your project, resave the file with a new number. For example: MySong v1, MySong v2, MySong v3, etc. This way, if your arrangement or mix veers off course you can always go back to the last solid version.
- Every time you add new audio to your track, be sure to Collect All and Save. No exceptions. It may eat up more drive space, but keeping everything in the same folder makes archiving much easier.
- Speaking of archiving, be sure to backup to an external drive at the end of each session.
Oops. That's six.