“If there were only more hours in the day…” “I have too much I want to do, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
These statements are as common in the music industry as open mic nights and 360 deals. They are usually said either at times of pure exhaustion or pure mania, with no sense of focus or strategic thinking.
The truth is, there are more hours in the day than we think and we don’t need to sacrifice sleep to find them. However, there’s no magic bullet, either. We can’t rewind the clock or slow down the Earth’s rotation. The secret to making more time for things that matter requires three things.
- Clarity on our priorities
- Organized structure
With these three tools we can we can finish what we have set out to do and we don’t have to burn out in the process. Let’s take a closer look at how to use each of these tools effectively.
Whenever you wish to improve any skillset you must illustrate some level of self-awareness. As they say, “the first step is admitting the problem.” If you have convinced yourself that busy = productive then your outlook is a big part of the problem.
If you never have time to get done what’s needed (whether what’s needed is time for more work or time for yourself), you’re not being honest about how much time you waste throughout the day - whether you waste it on cat videos or being “busy” on tasks that don’t serve you/your goals.
Throughout the next week start tracking your time. Using apps like AntiSocial to inform you how much time you spend on social media sites. When you complete a task, write yourself a quick note or leave a voice memo on your phone. At the end of the week, without judgment, evaluate how your time was spent. Does it reflect your priorities?
2. Clarity on priorities
Being aware of how you spend your time is great, but if you don’t know what goal(s) you are working towards, the data you’ve collected is useless. If you’re not sure where to begin - think of where you want to be in your career. What’s needed to get there? Break it down. Don’t attempt everything at once. Pick one goal and focus on getting it done, then move onto the next thing.
Once you have your priorities straight, stop wasting time on any tasks that don’t relate to those priorities. Distractions can feel important at the time, but if we stop and think what a certain task, meeting, or event is doing for us we soon realize the ROI (return on investment) of the time and energy spent is more often than not negative. Learn to say “No” more often and watch the time in your day magically appear.
3. Organized structure
If you really want to master managing your time, get better with setting boundaries and creating routines in your day that put you in the right mindset to succeed. Slow down. Focus on three tasks per day and complete them. Acknowledge the small wins to keep your energy and positivity high. Be realistic with how long things take. Schedule in time for “life” to happen (traffic, delayed meetings, kids getting sick, technological issues, etc.).
The allure of creative freedom and unpredictable days can be strong, and you don’t have to give those things up in the name of structure. Work within your tendencies and keep your routines simple and easy to maintain almost anywhere.
Lastly, blocking areas of your day/week to attend to certain tasks will immediately decrease the false sense of urgency felt with many distractions. Most emails are not urgent. Most phone calls can go to voicemail. Most meetings are a waste of time. Batch similar tasks together and get them done in one sitting when possible.
Parkinson's Law says, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Limit yourself and the energy you spend on certain tasks. Done is better than perfect, as perfect is unattainable. Stay focused, do it right once, and keep it moving.
So how much time do you think you waste in a given day? Be honest. Tell us in the comments below!
Suzanne Paulinski is a mindset coach and founder of The Rock/Star Advocate. She helps music industry professionals gain confidence and clarity in their goals with a healthy work/life balance. Her book,The Rock/Star Life Planner is now available on Amazon.