Every time you hit record your habits determine the quality of the recording.
If you get good habits you will get good recordings. The small steps you take add up and make a big difference. You probably know most, if not all of what you have to do already, its just a matter of actually doing them.
– Things like tuning (no brainier)
– mic choice (try at least 2 on each source)
– acoustic space (could it use a blanket to kill some reflections?)
– mic/instrument position (listen on headphones and move things around until its good/suitable)
– is it clean (any hiss, buzz or hum, or unwanted background noise? Do all u can to minimize these.)
– Does the polar pattern suit? (Learn this)
– Don’t clip
Something that is probably the most important thing is the actual playing or musicianship but this post is just focused on the engineering side of things.
Pretend post processing is not an option, get it right on the way in. If you’re using outboard eq or compression on the way in its better to be conservative in most cases (unless it calls for it) you can’t undo it later.
Have a reference track whilst recording. Does yours sound as good as the reference? If not, why?
This might sound like a lot of work but it only takes a few minutes. You might have to push yourself in the beginning but once it becomes habit it is no longer an effort. So get some good habits and start recording better.