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Linda Dessau : Managing time, when music isn't your "day job"

Managing time, when music isn't your ‘day job’

By Linda Dessau

You CAN do everything.

Repeat.

You CAN do everything. What you cannot do, however, is do everything at the same time, or create a day that's longer than 24 hours.

The two most important aspects of time management are acceptance and choice. When you think of time in terms of acceptance and choice, you're never "wrong", "bad", or "lazy", you've just made certain choices. When you think in terms of discipline and willpower, however, your inner critic can really do a number on you. We already have low self-esteem as artists; let's not add to the problem!!

An example of this from my own life is that I choose to live alone instead of with a roommate; that means I also choose higher rent and the need to bring in enough income to cover that rent. When sneaky thoughts of resentment or self-pity creep in to my head, I need to remember the choice that I made, and I need to accept this is how things are for now.

Here are some tips for using choice and acceptance to manage your time.

Decide what you want to have time for.

What keeps getting pushed to the back burner or rushed through? How will you spend your time once you've made your songwriting dreams come true and you've become the artist you're meant to be? Nourish this vision until it's clear in your mind. It's essential to know what you're working towards. Remember, you won't always be this busy unless you choose to be.

Choose not to be this busy.

For one week, track your time using a time log. You can make one yourself; simply chart out (on paper or on the computer) your day in fifteen-minute intervals and then record what you do in each of those blocks of time. Completing a time log will illuminate how much time you're spending on different things. Look carefully at the choices you're making. What do you most want to do with the time you have available?

Accept your day job for what it is —

a source of the financial support you need to eat and live — and write songs! Practice feeling grateful for the job you have, instead of feeling resentful about the time it's taking away from your songwriting. For instance, what recording equipment, CD's, manuscript paper, software programs or musical instruments have you bought from the money you earned in this job? Also, the job is giving you life experiences, and most likely lots of opportunities to interact with other people. Your passion is to communicate with people through your music — how can you take some of that passion and apply it to your day-to-day interactions? What kind of stories do your co-workers have to tell? What ideas do those stir up for you that you can use in your writing?

Look for a "day job" that's meaningful and that's taking you in the direction of your dreams.

Do you need some ideas? Try meditating to access inner wisdom and spiritual guidance. If songwriting is your primary passion, what's your second passion? What ELSE gets your juices flowing? There's no need to be in a job that doesn't make you feel alive, in order to support what does. Some artists that I know get lots of fulfillment from teaching children or adults about their craft. Others take jobs that involve public speaking, to give them more experience and confidence talking to groups. Some take jobs in music stores, where they can have lots of time to learn about the newest equipment, meet lots of fellow artists, and get a discount, to boot!

Schedule time with yourself for your songwriting, collaborating and rehearsing.

Keep these dates with yourself and others as sacred appointments!

Be good to your body

and don't sacrifice sleep for productivity (if you keep doing that, you won't be in much shape to produce anything!).

There are only a couple of things that we really NEED to do every day. Everything else is a choice. •

This article was originally published on the Muses Muse Songwriter's Resource website (November 2004) www.musesmuse.com.

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Linda DessauLinda Dessau helps artists enhance their creativity by addressing their unique self-care issues. More »

3/30/05