It’s a rare musician who doesn’t have some bloat in their music career. I’ve seen it with musicians over 40, because they’re clear that they only have so much time to dedicate to their craft and produce results, but it’s still a rare individual.
If you want to boost your productivity, reduce stress, and spend more time in your genius zone, you need to begin identifying things you don’t need to be doing.
Now, just because you don’t need to be doing it doesn’t mean you should automatically eliminate it. There are other options, and we will be exploring those as well.
But generally, when you do less, you’re able to do the things you’re already doing better.
You know how it feels to be sleep deprived, right? Sure, you can still get up and do your work. A little caffeine can go a long way.
But your effectiveness isn’t everything it could be. When you’re tired, you’re more prone to missing details. You could even get in accidents. No surprise, then, that you don’t do your best work when you’re tired.
Well, having an over-full plate is like that. It may seem like more is always better, but there always comes a point in your career where less is better. Because when you’re doing less, you can give the most important projects and tasks the time and attention they deserve.
In 2020, I started a newsletter called Music Career Tips Weekly.
Initially, I had a lot of fun and success with it. The list was growing every week, and open rates were sky high. Putting together new content was a joy.
Then, suddenly, it stopped growing. Open rates started declining. And in the ensuing weeks, the outlook wasn’t getting any better.
Now, I knew that I could have persisted. Put more marketing power behind it. Seek out more opportunities to grow it. Surely, if I kept at it, my passion for it would return as well.
But it was starting to feel like work. Developing the content was becoming a hassle. It wasn’t fun anymore.
And so, I let go of the initiative. It wasn’t an easy decision by any means, and it wasn’t made in a vacuum.
But the hardest pursuit of all is one you aren’t passionate about. Growth is slow. There isn’t much joy in the work. You can still get somewhere if you persist, but it will be a long, slow slog, and if you assign too much importance to things not happening, you will end up in a downward spiral.
One of the reasons we even worry about productivity is because we have things on our to-do lists, we don’t even want to touch.
Go ahead, look over your to-do list. How many items do you actually feel motivated to tackle? Chances are, there are only one to three items that give you any sense of excitement.
Invoicing your clients is essential. It’s always nice to get paid. Answering your emails might give you a tiny dopamine fix. Having to call your bank can probably wait. And the fetch quest tasks (research options and submit to client, partner, boss, etc.), well, they don’t exactly make the fires of passion well up in your belly.
Maybe the way we’ve been thinking about productivity has been wrong all along.
Because if we just focused on the things that excited us, we’d have a hard time peeling ourselves away from our desk or lab. We wouldn’t be watching the clock, waiting for it to turn 5 or 6. We’d be so deep in flow, we’d have to be deliberate about having a hard stop.
“But I still have things I need to do that I don’t want to do, David” you say. “What you’re suggesting is highly impractical.”
True, you can’t outsource exercise. If you want to maintain your health and fitness, you’ve got to put in the work. There is no other way. It’s the same way with invoicing, emails, calling the bank, and so on.
And we can’t very well escape communication, whatever form it may take. Even ruthless time manager and author Dan Kennedy accepts faxes.
But if we’re serious about productivity, we can’t just think in terms of getting things done. Because that’s not where the important work happens. The truth is the important work only happens when we prioritize and schedule it. Otherwise, it has a way of getting swallowed up in the deluge of urgent tasks that force productivity instead of inspiring it.
If you want to inspire productivity, you’ve got to work on something you love.
Just yesterday, I completed a new 8,000+ word eBook. I wrote it in three days, and I happen to think of it as a timely, important work.
I had my reasons for wanting to get it done, mostly because I plan to release it by tomorrow (April 1, 2021), and because it’s replacing a legacy product.
If I were tasked with writing an 8,000-word listicle, unless I was especially excited about the subject matter or had a hard and fast deadline for the piece, I would probably needlessly stretch it out over the course of four or five days.
“It’s so boring,” I would whine. “I just want to be working on my own stuff.”
Now, I’m not saying that you will love everything you work on, even the things you call your passion.
It’s funny – on some level, I actually hate my new eBook. But I got into flow as I was working on it, and I didn’t want to peel myself away from it until it was done. And in this case, I took hating it as a sign that I was engaging in important work.
The point is that we all need work in our life we can’t help but engage in. And, if possible, our lives should revolve around it. Usually, “must do” tasks can be batched on one evening or maybe a couple hours during the weekend. We can create our businesses around the things we love, and not doing so is robbing you and your audience of something amazing.
What is one small change you could make in your life to do more of what you love?
When I came across this material, I was a musician just like you. I was not an entrepreneur.
All I wanted to do was play guitar all day, write songs, tour from town to town, and record.
I had done a bit of graphic and web design work on the side. I started a home studio. I had even gotten into personal development. But ultimately, I didn’t go into any of it thinking I was going to get excited about business.
I mean, sure, I always thought it would be great to make loads of money doing things I loved to do. But I figured that was inevitable. It would happen if I just kept at it.
I thought the good life would be making music, throwing around a basketball with my bandmates, writing some blog posts… that’s about it.
I Wasn’t Looking for a Business
So, I wasn’t looking for a business. Let me underscore this part.
Because I think this is the part many people don’t understand about my story. I didn’t just one day wake up and say, “hey guys, I’m the music entrepreneur!”
I WAS going through a major financial crunch, and that DID impact my decision. But if there was a way for me to take my music career from zero to hero without having to get into business, I would have done it!
I was all out of options and it was crushing.
I had no money, and as result, I had no time. I was working five terrible jobs, and sometimes found myself fighting for safe working conditions and even the money I was owed!
The occasional open mic, rehearsal, or gig was the only music in my life. I couldn’t dedicate any of my time or energy towards the thing I loved most.
Up until that point, I had plenty of time to sit, ponder, and discuss my future with my roommates. It wasn’t always easy trying to interpret life and my identity. But it was fun. Those were good times.
Suddenly and forcefully, this kid was confronted with a very adult problem. Ready or not. I was sledgehammered into a new world. I did NOT choose it!
But there IS a reason I got excited. And that’s what I wish to relay here.
You’re Not Supposed to do This
In 2011, I ended up joining two network marketing companies, right around the same time. You’re not supposed to do that!
This is largely what your upline mentors would consider a conflict of interest. And their greatest worry would be that you destroy their business by courting their downline and getting them to join your organization.
This would basically be the equivalent of agreeing to teach guitar at a studio, only to take the studio’s entire client base with you after quitting. This is frowned upon.
Fortunately for my upline, I wasn’t interested in that.
I was much more interested in the possibilities I was beginning to see because of some things Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki had said.
The Business of the 21st Century
Now, just so there’s no misunderstanding, Kiyosaki did not visit my home and share his message with me. Nor did I see him speak at a conference.
See, every network marketing organization (well, the good ones anyway) have training materials. And when you’re going through the evaluation process (no, your upline won’t just let you join because you’re excited – you’ve got to prove yourself), you’ll work your way through some of that material.
So, the audio that got me fired up was The Business of the 21st Century, named after the book of the same title. But it wasn’t anything like the book. It was more so Kiyosaki just sharing his mindset.
Most importantly, what resonated with me was the cashflow quadrant.
The Cashflow Quadrant
The cashflow quadrant is easy to understand.
On the left-hand side of the quadrant, you’ll see an E and an S. And on the right-hand side, you’ll find a B and an I.
E is for Employee.
S is for Self-Employed, Specialist or Solo.
B is for Business Owner.
And I for Investor.
We need this context for what I’m about to share.
My Experience with the Quadrant
Personally, I had only ever spent a few months as an E. But I was well-acquainted with being an S, as most musicians are.
As a self-employed, you’d probably engage in some of the things I’ve already talked about. Maybe you’d get into graphic or web design. Maybe you’d start a home studio. If you were good at writing, you hunted around for freelancing gigs.
This is what many of us associate with starting a business. And while a freelancing career can feel like a business and even grow into one, because it’s so reliant on you and your time, it’s basically like creating your own job.
But let’s get back to that breakthrough…
The Difference is Mindset
In the audio I mentioned earlier, Kiyosaki says a safe, secure, high-paying job for life is an obsolete idea.
As I watched my friends and extended social circle jump from job to job and spend enormous sums of money for a paper on the wall, I had no choice but to agree.
Kiyosaki goes onto explain that the mentality of a self-employed (S) is “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” I talked about why this can hold you back yesterday.
A business owner (B) is someone with 500 employees or $10 million in revenue. And as a B, your job is to spread the wealth to as many people as possible. Business owners also tend to pay less in taxes.
For those on the left-hand side of the quadrant, the more money you make, the more you pay in taxes. I have seen this firsthand. It’s not a pretty sight.
Employees and self-employed also tend to be bought into “conventional” wisdom.
Ever had someone tell you that a house is the best thing to invest in? And then the banks tell you to buy mutual funds. Am I right? Well, if you’re thinking in terms of wealth, Kiyosaki says this couldn’t be more wrong.
Inflation is another major factor affecting your income as an E or S. If you’re invested in the right things, you make money when inflation hits. Otherwise, you end up paying more for commodities.
Again, “conventional” wisdom says there’s no such thing as inflation, but I’m calling B.S. on that. Gas, groceries, and utilities seem to go up in price every few months, never mind every year!
I could go on, but to summarize, the biggest difference between the four quadrants is mindset. That means you can move from the left side of the quadrant to the right side of the quadrant by changing the way you look at the world.
Paradigm Shift, Conclusion
When you’re on the left side of the quadrant, you work for money and other people.
When you’re on the right side of the quadrant, you have money and people work for you.
As a musician, you’re obviously never going to be handing over the creative process. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have money and people work for you, especially when it comes to tasks you don’t enjoy, aren’t good at, and pull you away from working in your strengths.
Success is 80% psychology. So, by shifting our mindset, we can create expanded outcomes in our music careers.
It’s not about getting into business. That’s boring. Dumb. Stupid. Risky.
That’s not the opportunity I saw and it’s not what I got excited about!
What I got excited about was the possibility of creating the life I wanted through music. And that’s the vision I share with others every single day.
The Music Entrepreneur Code is my latest best-selling book, and it’s available here as well as on Amazon.
The Leading Musician Coach
Hey! I’m author, entrepreneur, and musician David Andrew Wiebe. Learn more >