Clocking In, Clocking Out: Time Management

My mom is a religious list maker. I am not. This frequently led to arguments when I was a teenager. Every day, Mom would make up a list of items she wanted me to accomplish during the day. And every day, I read the list. The real rub came in how we both thought the list should be accomplished. To my mom, the list came first. To me, videogames came first (of course!). It wasn’t that I was ignoring the list, just that my day was organized differently in my head than it was in hers.

As time goes on, I find myself making more lists. I’m particularly a fan of Post-it notes. I can jot down and idea or thought or list that needs to be accomplished and then stick it to something where I know I’ll see it.

As a musician, whether you are in school or out, time management becomes very important. Unlike the rest of the school or society at large, there is no nine-to-five for us. Most people go to work for a set amount of time and then go home and get to engage in all the other activities that they really enjoy. But what happens when the thing you really enjoy becomes your job? The line between free time and wasted time becomes a bit blurry.

Here are a few ideas to keep you on the clock when you need to be:

• Get up early

 I love sleeping in, and sometimes I allow myself to. But the fact is, many of us do our best work in the morning. The day is young and you should be fresh (I hope). If you do most of your work (and practice) at home, get up and take a shower, make breakfast, get dressed—in other words, make it feel like you are going to work. Put yourself in the right mind-set early and you won’t be left with a huge to-do list at the end of the day when everyone else wants to go out.

• Hit your stride

Do you send e-mail and write marketing copy better in the morning, or do you practice better first thing of the day? Everyone seems to gravitate to doing things in a slightly different order. Don’t fight it. If you love practicing late at night, then go for it (as long as the neighbors don’t mind). But make sure you fill that daytime period with other types of work. Categorize all the different types of work you need to do in a day, and find a schedule that really suits you. If you feel like you’re hitting your work stride you’ll be that much more productive every day.

• Enjoy the perks of working for yourself

Of course it’s important to make sure you put in the hours necessary to make your business (i.e., you) successful. But the beauty of working for yourself is that you get to make all the rules. Feel like taking a day off? Sure, why not! Need to run some errands during the day when you normally make phone calls? No worries, there isn’t some external boss looking over your shoulder. Just don’t get carried away.

Being your own boss comes with great freedom, but it means you must be intrinsically motivated and disciplined. Sure you do what you want, and that’s a big perk—just remember if you don’t do any work there isn’t anyone else to do it for you.

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