Part 1: Getting your Emotions in Gear
When I first moved to Nashville, I was working very part time - making just enough money to pay rent and buy food & gas. I remember the feeling well of how relieved I would be to find a rumpled up $20 bill in the pocket of one of my jackets. Along with working part time, I was pursuing music full-time, and man, was this hard. It took me 3 years to realize that I had to stop living emotionally, and I believe that is the key to specifically balancing work and being an artist. When I was living purely by emotion, either my job suffered or my dream(s) suffered - now neither of them have to. We as creatives are very emotional beings. It’s amazing, we were intricately and specially designed that way. But, if we have no clue how to control our emotions in any way, we can be a complete mess. When I first came to the conclusion that I needed to get ahold on my “creative energy” I was bummed because I thought that meant that I wasn’t allowed to just freely create whenever I wanted to. But when I decided to create specific times where I could allow myself to go into my creative mindset and freely flow & wander there, I learned that this tactic was even more powerful than being in creative flow all day long while slacking on my work and living on a peanut butter and a prayer.
Let me explain more….
Back when I was super broke and just starting to get a grip on how to do work and music, I would get extremely overwhelmed (which ended in napping for the rest of the day) for two main reasons.
Reason number 1:
I felt like I could not switch from work brain to music brain in a single day. Once I put my mind in work mode, my brain was too exhausted to go into creative mode, and once I put my mind in creative mode, my brain would feel too free and cozy and would just run at that speed the rest of the day. When our minds get working in a certain mode, it’s called flow. My flow would be more like hitting a brick wall - when I would go to switch train tracks, the lever would not move and I would derailed. This left me very frustrated, feeling extremely unproductive, and emotionally exhausted. I even tried doing one day on, one day off and that didn’t even seem to help. I was, frankly, a mess.
Reason number 2:
Going to music industry meetings killed my emotions. Since the age of 15 I’ve been in and out of meetings - records labels, publishers, you name it. As an artist, this is how that goes for many of us…. We can’t sleep the night before because we’re too excited, and we don’t want to tell anyone about the meeting because chances are nothing will happen, but there’s a part of us that wants to tell everyone cause it is exciting that we even got the meeting in the first place but then again if we do tell Mom she’s going to ask us periodically if we’ve heard back and it’s going to be disappointing if we don’t. So we can’t sleep the night before, we’ve got emotions bottled up, and the meeting is at 10:30am so we get up early and spend the entire morning getting ready and stressing about it. We leave an hour early to make sure we know where we are going. When we get to the meeting we cross our fingers and hope to God it’s the right day / time and that our name made it into the computer calendar. After the receptionist answers our prayers by saying “ok, they’ll be with you in a moment” we sit in the lobby trying not to sweat our pits out. We pass the time by looking at all the platinum records on the walls surrounding the area and feel even more insecure about our art all of the sudden. “So in so” finally walks out and gets us and the meeting starts. We have a nice meeting, the rep either pays attention to our music while it’s playing or they check their email (our level stress depends on which it is) and then the 20 minute meetings we’ve been preparing for and worrying about for days in advance finally ends with a “send more music” or “you’re great!” and you just hope something is sincere…or something. We leave the meeting and we’re exhausted and hungry so we buy a pizza because we deserve it “after all that” and then we need a nap. It’s about 3pm by now and maybe we have a co-write, or maybe it’s time to Netflix and chill…
The. Day. Is Over.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? Maybe it was just me, but I kind of doubt that.
I could not get anything else done on days of meetings except for going to the meeting. Whatever came after, I couldn’t get my mind to shift out of the state of stress and / or anticipation of what might come from it. This was a huge mistake, but I didn’t know that I was capable of learning how to help myself get out of this habit. Growing pains.
So how did I start to balance it and crash through these two big roadblocks?
I started to train myself how to switch the lever the correct way - I couldn’t just flip it during one flow or the other, I had to actually stop the train , get off, and climb aboard the next one. I like to call this Time Blocking. Learning this was NOT easy (it was like pulling teeth!), but once I put my new habits in place it started working and my productivity was off the charts, while at the same time, my emotions became much more steady - I could actually count on them. I started blocking out time to work on certain things at certain times and giving myself a 10-20 minute reset in between. So now, this is what my day looks like:
I know I write best in the morning (I paid attention to learn that about myself) so I wake up extra early and I blog / get ideas from 6am-7am. I drive home from the coffee shop and start work with my clients from 7am-12pm. From 12pm to 3pm I switch again and usually go to the gym and eat lunch. This takes my mind away from my phone and email so I can give my brain a rest. When I get back from my exercise, I shower and from 3pm-7pm I work on music and I have a nice 4-6 hours of creative flow I can cozy into and since it’s now a habit my brain counts on it so the flow is incredible. I found out that it’s harder for me to switch from “music brain” to “work brain” because my brain feels way too good in music mode, it’s like trying to wake myself up from a fairy tale dream. I learned if I knocked out work first, my brain thanked me for getting the “reward” of working on music after. This made me feel great emotionally, too. In result of my new habits, on days of “high stress meetings” it wasn’t stressful anymore, because after my meetings I’d take time to reset - stop the train - and get to what I knew was next. I’d be very firm with myself “this is what you are doing now” and the more I trained my brain to listen the more my brain liked it. Now me and my brain are friends living in harmony.
Part 2: How to Hustle with a full plate
-Don’t get a job you hate. Do something to make money that makes you at least 70% happy, anything less will suck you dry emotionally. Sure, it’s not full time music or your “dream” right now but make the most of it!
-GET SLEEP!!!! 7 hours is the golden duration for me. That means I can go to bed at 11pm and get up at 6am. If I stay out late for a show, I adjust and plan accordingly - set yourself up for success and consistency.
-Exercise and eat relatively healthy. This will make you have so much energy!
-Get a planner, use a pencil.
-Prioritize your goals
-Learn how to say NO
-Stop over booking your schedule
-Unplug from your phone once a week to recharge
-Time block to get more done and make it easier to switch from hat to hat
-Plan, plan, organize, repeat.
-Get to know yourself, know when you need a break before you need it.
-Write out your goals clearly, daily / weekly / monthly
-Ge the Wunderlist App! It changed my life
-Write down where you want to be at the end of each week mentally and physically.
Here is the same list but in question form so you can copy & paste into your notes to help assess your hustle:
-Do I have a job that I hate?
-How much sleep do I get?
-Am I exercising and eating relatively healthy?
-Do I have a planner or calendar?
-Do I have a prioritized list of my goals?
-Do I say yes to people too much?
-Do I overbook my schedule?
-Do I ever unplug from my phone?
-Do I Time block to get more done?
-Do I plan and organize, or do I fly by the seat of my pants?
-How well do I know myself? Do I know when I need a break before I need it?
-Do I reward myself?
-Do I write out my goals clearly, daily / weekly / monthly?
-Do I write down where I want to be at the end of each week mentally and physically?
So…are you workin’ hard or hardly workin’?
Wrapping up / More Homework:
Write down what the last week of your life looked like. Are you happy with it? What did you accomplish? What more could you have done or would have wanted to do?
I challenge you to plan out the next 30 days of your life, your truly ideal 30 day schedule, with all your goals and execute it. (I promise you, if you’re dedicated you’re going to feel very accomplished and your confidence if going to soar.)
Please feel free to email me / comment below if you have any specific questions or specific struggles, or even if you have questions about navigating the music industry, I’d love to help in anyway that I can!
And do not forget, You. Are. Awesome. And this world NEEDS what you have to give so find a way to be able to give it 100%.