Do you write down your phone messages in five different places? Do you feel like you need to check five social media sites to make sure you don’t miss something important that might lead to business? Do you say YES to everything that comes your way?
This is chaos.
There was a time where I would make calls lists on whatever device I was using:
- My voice memos. (I talk to myself like a lunatic half the day. My phone is filled with half-finished songs, grand plans, and little victories—basically my own weird little version of therapy—but at the end of these I was saying, “Oh, and don’t forget to call X, Y, and Z.)
- ln my planner. (Yes, a physical planner, like it’s 1929. I love writing things down with ink and paper.)
- Sloppy left-hander notes in my journal. (As if talking to myself on my voice memos is not enough, I fill a journal every month or so with half-finished lyrics, hopes and disappointments, dreams and nightmares, quotes people say that I love. Many are so bizarre and out of context that they won’t make any sense when my nonexistent children read them and go, “Wow. Cool. My dad was a nutjob.” I also like to scribble little shapes long enough to remind myself I couldn’t draw my way out of a paper bag.)
- A number I emailed to myself. (WTF)
- The inside of my hand. (WFT again. I was on a call and wrote it there because the band was sound checking and my backpack is usually in the dark behind the stage before we go on.)
- On my Notes section on the phone (which is a mega-suck place to put things because they never sync back up to the laptop right. Someone better than me can probably fix this, but I want to go back to the Apple Store like I want a frontal lobotomy.)
- Lastly, on my Google calendar. (Which is a fine place to put things—syncs between phones and computers—but it sure feels great to cross out a call when it’s done).
I now have simple and clean lists in my planner each day:
- Any calls I have to return.
- Three calls to make each day that are related to my goals.
I try my best to make sure that no matter what other fires come up, I make those three calls toward the things I want to accomplish before I go down for the dirt nap. These include being there for family and friends, breaking the new record, building the charity, getting on big top tours, jamming with my heroes, promoting social justice for educations/environment, etc.
I also put the following into effect a few months back, and it has served me well:
I will do business (in this order)…
- Face-to-face (10 times more impactful than anything else anyway).
- On my phone (calls and texts).
- On LinkedIn (this is a great site because people are there to do business solely and not screw around showing you what they had for breakfast).
People learn to expect what you have shown them to expect. It took me a long time to find boundaries and realize there is only so much energy in a day. There is physically not enough time in the day to do the job and live on every social media site that is thriving. I used to try to keep up with every single site and every single message personally, and at the end of the day you have little time to create or go at the bigger goals. I got help, and yes, there are now some sites that I post on and don’t always have time to check (I am on Facebook and Instagram more than Twitter and Snap). Do you need to spend time on social media as an artist today? Of course you do. It takes up at least a couple hours of my time each day, and I learn a ton interacting with friends and fans. But for me, the point of working hard and learning every aspect of the music business is so you can succeed enough to cut a space each day to write/record and play live. Social media can make you feel like you are creating and interacting, when often you are just putting on a façade and not doing the real work of making art. It’s also incredibly narcissistic (which none of us lead singers have any shortage of), and that is seldom the place that the best songs come from.
To anyone trying to figure out time management, just make sure you don’t fall into the biggest killer of all: VICTIMHOOD. (I certainly did as social media starting taking up more and more of my day, and I longed for a time when someone had to actually speak with your management versus negotiate everything with you personally over whatever site you were on.) These are all fancy problems. First-world problems. We chose this, and it’s up to us to create a system that makes it work for us and doesn’t overwhelm us. This onslaught of technology only sucks if we let it rule our lives. The biggest problem is that it’s taken me decades to learn the best and most powerful word in the human language: NO. I am gonna beat it all back with a stick so I have more time to write music and be with my better half and yell crazy things to my dogs.
Let me know any tips and tricks you have for staying organized and focused (not for calling your dogs weird names … well that, too).
Love your faces. Stay in touch.
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