I hear lots of people explaining how they like tools which let them achieve the results they need as quickly as possible. The justification for this is usually along the lines of "time is money" and for busy professionals this is very true. I often wonder how this sits with the frequent conversations I have with professionals who aren't busy enough and would welcome more work. It makes me wonder what the hurry is? There are other reasons to work quickly than just being paid for your time.
Time Isn't Just Money
I agree that we are under pressure to complete our mixes quickly, but not because of economic constraints. Mixing is simple but very difficult to do well because we need to listen repeatedly to the same material but we all have a limited ability to maintain fresh ears and if you are anything like me you are probably aware that a law of diminishing returns exists when it comes to mixing. Beyond a certain amount of time the longer I spend on a mix, the further I get from the "big picture" and rather than getting better, my mix just ends up passing through many kinds of different. Not better, just different.
Break or Collaborate
I've been there enough times to recognise this when it happens and for me there are two ways out: Take a break or collaborate. When I'm stuck I either put the project aside for a few days (a luxury not available to many) or I enlist the help of someone whose opinion I trust and play the mix to them. They usually don't have to say anything, Just by being there I can hear, with the fresh ears I couldn't find before, exactly what is wrong with my mix.
Not Too Much, Not Too Little, Just Right.
I thought I'd do a graph to help visualise the point. I see my ability to listen to a mix with perspective and not to get bogged down in the details as a finite resource, too valuable to squander. To get my mix in order takes some time, but if I take too long I have exhausted my ability to listen. So to get a good mix I need to work quickly, not so quickly that the important work hasn't been done, but not so slowly that I've used up my ability to listen with clarity. Not too quick, not too slow but just right - The Goldilocks Mix Zone.