Updated: Jan 24
Hey, friend. I’m excited to share a series of articles with you about how to make the most of your time so you don’t have to spend all of your time working.
What I have to share could be really useful to you if you find yourself saying things like the following:
"I just don't have time for that passion project... I have too much work to do."
"I haven't had a day off in weeks."
"I don’t feel like I can plan too far ahead for things I want, in case a work opportunity comes up.
Trust me, I’ve found myself saying these things from time to time, as well. And it’s taken some soul-searching, seeking out the wisdom of others who have been there, being willing to take a risk and try new things before I started to figure things out.
One of the things I have been proudest of (and fought hardest for) in my career is the first time I was able to go abroad to England with my family for an extended period of time (a month) -- and leave the business to run itself. Since at that point I was performing, teaching, and directing a music school with a team of faculty and an administrator, I had several different elements to pause, and in the following paragraphs I’ll discuss the main three.
First, I had to be somewhat strategic in when I chose to take time off from playing -- making sure that I didn’t make conflicts with potential performance opportunities that I would be sad to miss out on, and also giving myself a buffer to ramp back up again on my return.
Second, I had to arrange and communicate a summer lesson schedule/makeup plan that my families would be able to follow, and a tuition policy that made sense and provided value -- ensuring that I would keep student engagement up, and attrition down over the summer, even though things were less steady than during the school year.
Finally, with regards to running the school, it was especially important that plans and fall-back
plans were well in place before leaving, especially because the school itself kept rolling, with lessons and camps in full swing over the summer. It wouldn’t have been fair to our team or community to just stop our regular activities because of my absence. I couldn’t shut down other people's jobs to go on vacation as the boss or team member. I needed to plan ahead -- well ahead -- to make sure folks back at home had what they needed and knew what to do in case something unusual came up… and also had a great experience.
We did need to have a secret smoke signal in place to get ahold of me in case of an emergency ... but ultimately, in the end I was able to travel and focus on eating, seeing the sights, and making memories with my family.
Here we are in Oxford, indoctrinating our kids to the idea of going to college where their daddy went. It feels like Harry Potter could come from around the corner at any point. How fab and delightful! :)
Now, though my business is leaner (just me!), I have adopted some of the practices that I learned from prepping for that trip into my regular work habits. I can now personally "shut off" when it’s necessary, even when there are still irons in the fire -- whether that's for my concerts or my husband’s travel, to volunteer at my daughters' school, to go deep on a certain project, or if my family just needs more flexibility for some reason. For long or short term diversions, I’m all covered.
There could be lots of reasons YOU need flexibility!
Now, you can glean from my experiences -- and I hope you’ll share how these things fit in with your journey with me as you go along.
I have made a list of nine concepts that have been pivotal to me as I refine my work life to help me balance all the things I do. There are definitely more, but this will get us a good start. I will be breaking each concept into a separate article, so you have time to reflect on each one. I definitely recommend starting by trying out one concept at a time -- so as to avoid overwhelm and give you a chance to reflect on your progress.
The first five concepts are relatively small habit changes -- the ideas aren’t small, but they are ‘small’ in that you should be able to implement them in a gradual way with a spirit of thoughtful experimentation.
Habit Changes: Structure your days for productivity
Anchor the non-negotiables
Find your “Deep Work” sweet spot
Remove distractions from your work-flow
Be a time mercenary
Sleep is part of your day, too
The final four concepts are more foundational challenges. They are meant to give you something to munch on -- and each offers opportunity not only for massive transformation in how you physically administer your business, but for significant clarification in the long-term ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind your goals are and therefore how you choose to spend your time each day.
Strategic Projects: Tools for Major Change
Make easy systems for repetitive tasks
Begin with the end in mind
Consider the long-game strategy
If you haven’t already signed up for BackstageForum, I recommend you do that here so that you can get first-dibs access to the resources in this series.
READ ON >>> Habit Changes: Anchor the Non-negotiables