Time management for musicians is an integral part of anyones career. In essence, what time management tries to achieve is to get you more out of your 24 hours a day. However, it is far from being that simple.
For once, most musicians have to juggle multiple incarnations, for example, they also need to work a day job, have family and friends and perhaps even a hobby. Carving enough time out of every day in order to practise your instrument, voice and songwriting can be a challenge. What is more, many musicians choose to go the DIY route. That means that also the business side is on their desk.
With also having to distribute your music, pitch tracks to playlist editors and of course look after social media, time management can quickly become essential.
This is crazy, one of the most often asked questions I get in my consulting is how to look after social media and simultaneously have enough time for making the actual music. I’m afraid there is no magical answer to this. Only work, planning and determination. Though, isn’t most of the music industry build on this?
How to get good with time management when you actually hate it
Here’s the deal, if you would be a pro in time management you wouldn’t probably read this blog post. Identifying that you have an issue with time management is the first step. The second step is to check in which areas of life you need to focus more on planning accuracy.
For example, you might be good at going to the gym regularly and love to work out. There’s no problem for you to schedule a yoga session three times a week. However, as soon as you are supposed to post often on Instagram because you have a new release coming up, you get stressed out.
That is because the things we love are often on top of our priority list. The struggle starts when you have to plan for things you don’t like. Many musicians share an aversion to social media, for example. Hence, engaging in active time management for this task seems to be untenable.
And that is the real trick about successful time management planning. Getting you in a state of doing instead of keeping you in a state of procrastination and delaying.
At the end of the day, there will always be tasks in every job that someone might not like this much. It’s just that being a musician is probably one of the most wrongly depicted jobs in popular culture. This narrative of a super talented person being discovered by a music manager and subsequently being made famous is just simply not true.
How to start time management as a musicians
The very first step is to get a grip on your schedule. Get a notepad or your mobile phone and start keeping track of any task you are doing during the day. Don’t start planning just yet. It is important to do the bookkeeping first in order to identify the time brackets you are working with.
You can even print a weekly planner and start noting down all activities you are doing as well as any time windows that you can see.
Canva has a great selection of weekly planners to choose from, for example.
Do this exercise for a couple of weeks and keep the planners. After perhaps a month you should have enough entries in order to distinguish repeated tasks and one time events. For example, perhaps you have a band practice twice a week but only one time taking your dog to the vet.
Now you know that your dog needs to go to regular check-ups but it’s not something that you have to plan every week. What is more, perhaps you are working part-time as a hostess at a local coffee shop to make ends meet.
Do you have a set schedule or a new work plan every week?
Holding yourself accountable is the first thing in getting better at time management.
How to advance
After you have classified your overall time commitment it is time to do a bit of Mari Kondo and chuck things out that don’t bring you joy. Before you start throwing out all social media and content production tasks because they don’t bring you joy, pause!
With this exercise, it is paramount to have a goal in mind that you are working towards and that your time management is supporting. In this case, your goal is probably to become more successful as a musician so you can live off your passion full time.
In order to do so there might be tasks that you need to do that don’t immediately bring you joy, like social media. But that will help you a long time round. What I said earlier with chucking things out that don’t bring you Joy actually refers to eliminating everything that does not serve your goal.
Do you go out to party three times a week and come home tipsy only to wake up hangover the next morning? I hear you, it might bring you joy at the very moment but does it serve your goal of becoming a full-time musician? Probably not.
We all have those pitfalls that keep us away from pursuing our dreams. Having a clear time management setting can help you to stay focused on your goals.
How to trick yourself into doing time management as a musician
You still don’t feel like starting time management? Ok, here is a brilliant trick to help you along. After you have recognised all-important time nuggets in your week you can then start actively setting time windows. If you know that cleaning your flat takes three hours then this is one time nugget.
Perhaps answering Emails takes you five hours. Then this is your Email time nugget. Write down all the recurring time nuggets in your week.
Now, when you start planning next weeks workload you can start by filling in anything that is already set. For example, your shift at the coffee shop or your yoga class.
With the remaining time windows, you can then start filling in your time nuggets according to time windows that fit.
Here you have it, some tips on how to become better at time management as musicians. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect!