This article originally appeared on Cari Cole's Standing in the Spotlight blog.
Anyone who is a musician knows it's an eight-day-a-week job, one that is never done if you're doing it right. But that right there is a prescription for disaster. No friends, no life, and even possibly, no career. It's all about balance, planning, strategizing, setting goals, and setting and resetting priorities.
Here are my top six pretty-darn-close-to-magical steps to painless time management that have radically improved my career and life as a result of holding to them. I hope it helps you stop spinning your wheels and start being more effective with your music business this year. Big changes can come for you when you apply this simple formula.
The first thing to consider if you are in overwhelm is that there may be too many things rolling around in your brain. Time for a braindump! Arrange for some time to dump everything you've got in your head down on paper or in a document (even notes on your phone). This process gives your brain more room because it gets it down on paper. You'll feel more relief.
2. The to-do list
Now take that braindump and format it into a to-do list. You can categorize your to-do list into compartments like:
- artist development – songwriting, vocal technique, etc.
- marketing and promotion – social media, website, bio, press release, promo photos, videos, etc.
- business – opportunities, conferences, festivals, goal setting, strategy, etc.
Now that you have the to-do list, it's time to put that list in order of importance. Introducing the power of prioritizing. Whether you're a busy person or not, you won't want to give the same attention to every item on your to-do list. To avoid that, prioritize. Put the absolute must-dos at the top. Be sure to rate the top items on your to-do list by what will move you ahead or give you an ROI (return on investment). A great way to keep reorganizing the priorities is to sit down every Sunday (or the day prior to your week's start) for 45 minutes and prioritize the week ahead. A great way to keep yourself powerful.
4. Organize the schedule (by year or quarter)
While there are a lot of things you would love to do, if you can't see the whole year ahead at a time, you're not preparing properly. Stop getting bitten in the butt last minute, and get ahead of the curve by planning out your year ahead of time. Make a calendar with all the festivals, songwriting contests, release dates, marketing campaigns, and music events (like conferences) on the calendar ahead of time. Then dive deeper into each quarter and get all of your concerts, event dates, etc., on the calendar. Bam. Here at Team Cole, we live by our pre-planning! It feels so good.
5. Live the calendar
Harvard Business Review came out with the results of a study on time management a few years ago that basically said the to-do list is dead. The trick to being more productive is actually putting your to-do list (in order of importance) in your calendar and slotting the time for each task on a daily-weekly-monthly-yearly basis.
This task has made all the difference in mastering my time, my schedule, and took me out of guessing how much time something took into being able to better project the time per task. The result of this small tweak allows me to make better decisions that bring more profit to my company, more satisfaction to my clients, and more business growth. Try it – you'll never look back.
6. Use a project management software
One of the things I tell artists all the time is stop looking for a manager and hire an assistant – a really good one. The first step to running your business well is delegating tasks (first knowing what they are and how much time they take). The best way to do that is to plug all of your to-dos into a project management software. Me and Team Cole are addicts of Asana. It allows us to track all of our projects, emails related to those projects, due dates, and calendars in one glance = love. Do it.
Cari Cole is a celebrity vocal coach, artist development expert, and new music business mentor. She helps artists and musicians find their voice, build their brand, and create successful careers in music. Grab a free copy of her Vocal Road Warrior three-part series: how to keep your voice healthy while you're out conquering your tour!