Sometimes the music industry can be HARD. There are constant struggles that come with it every day, no matter what area you’re in. Whether you’re the one making the music, producing it, managing it, booking it, there is always going to be hard work and hard days. There are limited opportunities, society’s pressure of ‘not being good enough’ and people constantly telling you to get a ‘real’ job. As well as society’s persistent efforts to trample all over your dreams, COVID-19 has been especially detrimental to many work opportunities in our beloved music industry. The last few months have been proper downers, but it has also been some optimum time to get your creative juices flowing and start writing some new music! Whether you’ve been stuck inside alone or with housemates and family, it can be hard to even get out of bed when you have no job to go to.
All you want to do is sit on the couch and watch Netflix all day, understandable. Maybe you just need a break from what you normally do, and that’s okay. Trying new things can also help with motivation. If you’re a musician and have lost all motivation to make music, try different craft ideas, painting or drawing, a form of creativity other than music. If your brain works creatively, chances are if you’re good at one thing you’ll be good at another. An additional option to help your motivation is to find an industry mentor. If you ask around, most of the time, industry folk are very welcoming and happy to help out where needed. Find someone that isn’t too hard to get a hold of, who is in your city, and in your sector of the industry. Seeing someone in a position where you eventually want to be will definitely help motivate you to stick to your goals and keep going.
Recognise what motivates you
Okay, we can all admit we have had a lack of motivation at some point, or a few times, and that is okay. You can want something and still not be motivated to do it or work towards it. But a way to stay motivated and keep doing the things you love is to recognise the feeling itself. Why are you unmotivated? What is keeping you from starting something that you want to start? Understand the feelings and work with them. Find a way you can stay motivated to write that song. Do things that make you want to get out of bed in the morning.
Plan your work days out
Okay, you’re out of bed. What are you going to accomplish today? Setting weekly goals can really help to ensure you get tasks done each week. If you are releasing music, set a date you want that song, EP, or album to be out by. By doing this, you will have to create weekly or even daily goals to get it done before the release date. This links into time management.
What is time management?
“Time management is the process of organising and planning how to divide your time between specific activities”. – Mind Tools
It helps increase efficiency, productivity and effectiveness. There are many different time management tools that you can use to balance out everything you need to get done, such as previous engagements, work requirements, while still having a social life and hanging out with your friends and family.
Right, so that’s all well and good, but what tools and resources can I use to actually start managing my time effectively?
There are probably some things that you think you need or have to do, but you probably don’t. Figure out what they are and write a list. Remember your goal, anything that doesn’t contribute to it, eliminate (if possible).
Get a notebook, or your phone/laptop if you prefer digital versions, and write a master list. Your master list should include everything from your tasks, goals, and requirements. Your list can be for the day, week, month or year, whatever will be easiest for you to organise and understand. Organise this list by priority, say one is most important and five is least. Ensure that you make deadlines for when you want tasks and goals done by and a checklist for when you complete them. Want to write a new song? Awesome! Pop it into your list as a short term goal with a deadline of course, then track your progress every time you work on something new.
Similar to eliminations, but different in the way that these are probably things that you can’t fully eliminate, like work. It might even be about finding a quiet spot in your home where you can sit down, away from the other people in your house, the kitchen, the tv, maybe even your phone, and dive deep into what you’re doing. Build your schedule around the necessary things you have to do to live your life, but make sure you are happy in what you are doing, because a lot of time management issues come down to lack of motivation.
Finish writing that song with our Nine Quick Cures for Writer’s Block.
Calendars are an excellent resource. Both digital and physical already have holidays and yearly events programmed into them. The perks of a well utilised digital calendar allow you to auto enter in your work schedule, set reminders and colour code categories.
However, though they are a bit of a forgotten treasure, physical calendars are a classic way to organise everything. A physical calendar allows you to keep the memory of putting each detail in yourself, and you can stick it up on a wall to see it everyday.
It always pays off to be organised. You don’t have to stick to calendars though, you can find what suits you and your lifestyle best and go with that.
Checklists are an extremely useful resource, especially if you know you have a hectic day ahead of you. A simple to-do list will probably do just fine, but you can do it however you want. Advanced lists can be split up by time frame, category and urgency. For example, your main goal for that week could be to finish a song you have been writing. You could split the song up in categories and finish them day by day. Maybe you really need to finish the main guitar part before anything else, if so, you’d be best putting it on the first day, as it would be the most urgent task to be done.
Seeing all of your goals ticked off at the end of the time frame will probably make you feel really accomplished (as well as having your finished product of course!)
Check out our gig booking checklist for a detailed example.
Creating a good work and life balance
Yes, completing all your goals by your own set due date does feel fantastic, but try not to let your work take over your life. Roster in your goals where it works with your lifestyle, but don’t work on it outside of that time as everyone needs time to recharge. Be kind to yourself if you don’t finish the task in the timeframe you set. You don’t have to plan every single aspect of your life down to the very last point.
Think about what you consider work and what you consider life. Certain things could fit into both. Work might be the job that pays the bills, writing your music or working on your dream. Life might also be writing your music and working towards your dream, or it simply be spending time with friends, family and your pets. Decide which is which for you and find a healthy balance.
Working from home? Check out our D.I.Y Music Releases course now.
Sometimes life can get crazy very quickly, and that’s where all of these points would come into effect best. Even still, when you’re stressed it can be difficult to stay motivated and active in your work.
Okay, so you’ve pretty much organised your entire life at this time (while maintaining an even balance of work and play of course), but you’re still lacking the motivation to actually get things done. Maybe start to think about what you’re doing and if it actually brings you any joy. Ask yourself why it may not energise you like it used to, and try to approach it with less significance. Taking the pressure off writing your own song might be down to trying something as simple as learning someone else’s bass parts, just for the fun of it. Better yet, why not try meditation?
Meditation is an easy and peaceful way to get motivated in the morning. As well as other exercises, it gets your blood flowing and your mind awake and ready to start the day. As performers, meditation and mindfulness can really help to improve your skills. Find the time in your day to sit down with yourself and think about everything you want to do, have to do, have your short and long term goals in mind, as well as the reason you started music/ wanting to have a career in music. This will help you maintain motivation to continue. Find your inspiration and influences, write them down and stick them up on your wall.
Make meditation easy with these 4+ star rated apps:
- Headspace – meditation and sleep
- Calm – meditation and sleep
- Bloom – meditation and sleep
- Endel – focus, sleep, relax
Headspace says: “First, it’s helpful to become familiar with the meaning of mindfulness, as well as how it relates to meditation. Mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment — free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. We train in this moment-to-moment awareness through meditation, allowing us to build the skill of mindfulness so that we can then apply it to everyday life. In teaching the mind to be present, we are teaching ourselves to live more mindfully — in the present, taking a breath, not beholden to reactive thoughts and feelings — which is particularly helpful when faced with challenging circumstances or difficult situations”.
See how other musicians get into mindfullness and meditation:
Enter Shikari vocalist Rou Reynolds’ podcast “Here, now, together”.
- The intelligent vocalist: Episode 180 – Mindfulness for Singers with Annie Little
- The intelligent vocalist: Epsiode 183 – Only Done Counts
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