As a freelance musician, one of the biggest challenges I face is managing time.
As all self-employed people will recognise, and particularly in the creative industries, it is much harder to work set ‘9-5’ hours or shift patterns – the arts world doesn’t tend to work like that, unfortunately!
With some hectic periods and tight deadlines often followed by calmer periods, I can often find myself struggling to keep the work-life balance right, especially with so many exciting projects to work on!
I am still refining this balance, but over the years I have come up with a few things I remind myself of when trying to manage my schedule, and I hope this might be useful to others in the same boat.
Here are my three favourite freelancer diary management tips.
Try To Have At Least One Day Off A Week
This is one I particularly struggle with! I always find myself more productive when I have at least one day without structured work or appointments in a given week.
This allows you to recharge your batteries and reenergise. It also allows you to have time to do the things outside of work that often pass us by, such as hobbies, meeting with friends or family or just relaxing!
I always think about this when being asked to schedule in work – it’s ok to have the occasional hectic week or two without a day off, but try not to make it a habit every week!
Use Technology To Your Advantage
Time management is very important as a freelancer, particularly as a musician where you tend to be out of the office most of the day, but have occasional downtime between schools, lessons or after a soundcheck.
Make sure you use technology to your full advantage! I couldn’t live without a synchronised diary (such as Google Calendar), files (such as Google Drive), and emails that can be managed on your phone, which is very important to maintain regular communication channels with parents, promotors and customers, but without eating into your precious time off.
Value Your Time Highly
Time in the modern world is arguably one of your most valuable commodities – and it should be treated as such, by you and your clients.
Particularly as a creative, there are so many time-intensive activities to be done, such as personal practice, administration, finances, and travelling, which are not paid. As such, these must be factored in when taking on work. Ask yourself before you say yes – is this activity, with all the associated unpaid work generated around it, worthy of all the time needed, not just the time taken physically working?
You may go through this process and say, ‘Yes! It is worth it!’ – in which case, go ahead and do it. But I always find it useful to think about the bigger picture when taking on more work.
Also, make sure your regular clients value your time too.
I hope these tips help save you some time – I wish I’d had them five years ago!
Composer | Arranger | Trumpet & Flugelhorn | Educator