Put more stringent measures into place to protect your time, and there will be immediate pushback from your partners, colleagues, collaborators, clients, and peers.
“Who do you think you are? Do you think your time is more valuable than mine?”
“Does this mean we can’t have three-hour conversations sorting out all the details of our next event?”
“I never knew you took your time and boundaries so seriously. Has this always been a concern for you?”
What your colleagues don’t appreciate is that you’re looking to create a workable, sustainable schedule for yourself. And by the time you’ve established a tenable plan, your productivity isn’t going to suffer. It’s going to increase. The people around you are the ones that are ultimately going to benefit from you setting more rails around your time.
You know yourself better than anyone else. That also means you are more qualified to devise a plan and stack the deck in your favor than anyone else. No one else can tell you how to live. They may have helpful suggestions, but at the end of the day you’ve got to make up your mind for yourself.
If you want to achieve next level productivity, then it’s all about setting yourself layers behind the frontlines. It’s about batch processing your email, returning texts when it best suits you, selectively ignoring communication as you see fit. It’s about delegating tasks and activity that are below your paygrade and handing off tasks to other capable people.
God forbid you might get a book written if you had an hour to spare in your day.
Fundamentally, most people aren’t going to be onboard with you opting to protect your time, and that may well be one of the greatest challenges you’ll face in setting up a moat around your castle.
But it must be done. You can’t get to where you want to go in life if you’re distractable, interruptible, contactable at all hours of the day. Someone will always be there to add to your to-do list.
Certainly, take on anything that’s aligned with your goals. But do it on your own terms. Choose when you return communication. Don’t let someone else tell you how it’s supposed to work. You make the rules.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve learned to do a lot of things well.
And that’s not a bad thing. We hear a lot about focus out there, and focus is a great tool for specific situations, but as with all tools, it can be quite overrated in others.
Still, even with all the experience you’ve gained, there are some things you do disproportionately better than others.
If you’ve never sat down to identify what those things are, I would encourage you to reflect.
I would posit that it’s probably in the domains of songwriting, composing, playing an instrument, singing, making beats, producing music, or something related to these disciplines, but I have been known to be wrong at times.
If you could spend more time doing whatever it is that you do best, you’d enjoy yourself more, and chances are, you’d produce better results in your career too.
Oftentimes, life doesn’t just bow to our will and deliver our order on a silver platter though, does it? And what I mean by that is that you’ve got your genius zone, the thing you do disproportionately better than just about anything else, and realistically, there’s only so much time or effort you can dedicate to it. For most people, evenings and weekends are all they get, and that’s if they’re lucky.
So, sometimes, we need to bend reality to our will.
This guide? Not a possibility unless I insisted on writing every Monday. The only reason it gets done is because I prioritize it. If I let the urgent take over, I wouldn’t make progress.
And that’s what I mean by “bending reality to your will.” Reality dictates that you’ve got to go to work, and you’ve got bills to pay. Reality dictates that your work probably takes up the biggest part of your day and requires most of your expendable energy.
But at the risk of sounding callous, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. So, if we want to progress in areas that matter to us, sometimes we will need to insist on it.
“In an ideal world…”
Finish that sentence.
In an ideal world, you would have a band and a team, and your band members would be handling things you’re not good at and don’t enjoy, while your team works around the clock to book gigs, arrange logistics, and negotiate deals on your behalf.
I’ve lived in “in an ideal world…” thinking for a long time, and the thing is, life just keeps happening. I just keep wishing, hoping, and praying for the day all circumstances and conditions are perfect. It never happens.
Bend reality to your will. Make time for what matters. Do work in your genius zone because you want to, because you love to, because you can’t imagine doing anything else (not because you must, you’re obligated to, or because it’s a duty). Keep following your own path. And if your head and heart are in alignment, you will eventually live in that “ideal” world. But don’t wait for it to show up. Start creating it, even if it’s just an hour per week.
A student of mine recently came to me with a bit of a conundrum.
Her week was starting to fill up fast with various calls and meetings, on top of her regular business duties and work schedule. With the sheer volume of activity, she was now facing, she wasn’t confident she’d be able to maintain her well-being, especially as she was used to taking two days off per week, usually in succession.
I acknowledged the urgency of the situation, but first, I asked her to humor me and share with me what her daily activity was like.
What I started to see was that even with everything she’d taken on, she would still be able to take two days off per week. It just wouldn’t be one after another.
“You can take Tuesdays off,” I offered. And at first, she wasn’t too fond of the idea, because that would mean one day off, one day on, one day off, and four days on. But ultimately, she couldn’t argue with the feasibility or practicality of it. “You’d still be able to take two days off and meet all your weekly commitments,” I explained. And she could see the wisdom in that.
As we seek to nail down our weekly schedules, we certainly can’t ignore our well-being. When we’re pushing too hard and start to feel exhausted, we need to acknowledge that what we’re doing is unsustainable and to begin to look for other ways of meeting our commitments.
Starting with the end in mind can be quite helpful. If you know you want two days off, or even three days off per week, you can often find a way. It might mean moving some meetings around, or making requests of your team, but once you separate the emotion from the practicality of it, you start to see that you can really set up your schedule however you want!
And this isn’t just about your well-being. It’s also about consistency. Consistency is easy when you have a routine. Much harder when you’re all over the map.
You need to be clear on what it is you’re trying to accomplish each week. And if you’re goal oriented, it really is about focusing on the needle movers. Don’t get sucked into the black hole of putting out fires. Put out the fires, yes. But be sure the identify the urgency of the situation before calling a spark a fire.
For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.
When we celebrate a birthday, are we celebrating new life and rebirth, or are we celebrating that we are one year closer to death?
It’s not that one is right, and the other wrong. But it is an area worthy of speculation because there’s an opportunity to create what you want, instead of kowtowing to societal norms.
In terms of celebrating new life and rebirth, it has long been understood that age is but a number. Everyone’s journey is unique, and there are no “milestones.” You can’t guarantee marriage by 18, kids by 25, a house with a white picket fence by 27, a golden retriever named Charlie by 28, and an executive level position by 30. It doesn’t work that way. Most journeys are wandering and circuitous.
40 isn’t any more significant than 30, and 30 isn’t any more significant than 20. It only is if we make it so. It has everything to do with how we create it. Not to mention, it’s not about how long you’ve lived – it’s about how much living you’ve put into your life.
So, another year is just another year. Look closely, and you will see that you don’t know your beginning any more than know your end. Which can only mean the present is infinite. It has to be.
When you were born, you were celebrated. Not by all, but by some. Why should that change just because you’re turning a new number? Couldn’t you celebrate the monumental event that was your birth?
In terms of celebrating being one year closer to death, this is our default way of celebrating birthdays. Even well wishes are often thinly veiled “I just hope you acknowledge my birthday next time,” “I’m not going to give you a gift, so here’s a shoutout on social media,” or worse, “I don’t like you and I wish you would die.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read yesterday’s post. There’s a clear contrast between the clean, filtered version of ourselves we present to society, and the real, down and dirty judgment we cast onto others and hold as truth (which is really just our perspective).
Look, this isn’t necessarily wrong. We don’t always celebrate death in North America (sometimes we do), but in other cultures they celebrate the transition. Yes, the “transition” is ambiguous and unknowable (often driven by what has been perpetuated by holy texts and scriptures), but it can be quite beautiful, especially if you create it as such.
Celebrating death can also be empowering in that there are things we wish to shed and transmute. Heartache, pain, difficulty, challenge, problems, trauma, and more. What if you took your birthday to let go and allow all that is? What if you made it your mission to stop resurfacing familiar pains and stories about yourself and what they meant, and instead created a new possibility, and a new world for yourself when your birthday arrived?
I’m not necessarily presenting solutions. But I’m asking. Which type of birthday do you want? What does a birthday really mean? Is it as consequential and monumental as we make it out to be? Or is it just a part of this thing we call life? And would we enjoy ourselves more if we just thought of ourselves as ourselves, not as a number?
You are. That’s all there is. Everything else is just made up.
Since I started building a team, an hour of effort doesn’t feel the same anymore.
Prior to building a team, an hour of effort felt insignificant. I didn’t feel as though I could get a lot done in that time.
Now that I have a team, it’s starting to feel like I can get exponentially more done in the same amount of time.
It makes me wonder about the lone wolf guru types.
I have admiration for them, to be sure, but I wonder whether they’ve experienced what I’ve experienced.