Whether you work full-time outside the house, in your home office or take care of young children or aging adults (which is definitely a full-time job), finding time for music can be a juggling act.
When I first started trying to build a music career, I worked full-time as a Director of Finance at an Opera Company. It was quite a demanding and stressful job, yet I managed to make time for band rehearsals, songwriting and recording my first demo.
When I started to build a name for myself as a solo recording and performing artist, I was a stay-at-home mom with a 2 year old. In some ways, it was more challenging than balancing music with a corporate job. You don’t get to “clock out” at the end of the day, and you definitely don’t get rewarded with any overtime pay!
Yet during this time, I was able to write and record an entire album, perform locally about 6 times per month, book several 2 week mini tours, record demos for other songwriters and take a songwriting class.
It definitely wasn’t easy…
But sometimes the raw power fueled by the passion we have for music can drive us to accomplish the super-human.
But passion alone isn’t enough. It takes battle-tested strategies and detailed planning to make sure music doesn’t get pushed to the back burner when our day job is demanding.
If the idea of “detailed planning” sounds intimidating…I get it. I used to feel overwhelmed by the idea of making a plan to get things done. But when I finally admitted to myself that the lack of a plan was what was standing between me and my dream of a music career, I put my fear and resistance aside.
I know you can too!
I am going to share a few ways you can find time to focus on music while working full-time on other things.
1. Determine When You Are Most Productive
Discover which time of day you are most inspired, focused and likely to feel motivated to work on music. For me, it is early morning, before the kids are up and the hustle and bustle of the day’s responsibilities threatens to distract me.
Maybe for you, it’s late at night when you’ve gotten your daily tasks done. Or the weekend when you can devote a larger block of time to music-related creativity or music marketing projects.
Oftentimes, we can squeeze in some short work sprints in the middle of the day - during a lunch hour or while the kids are napping. If you’ve had your coffee and are in “work mode” it might be your most productive time.
2. Your Lunch Hour - A Music Power Hour
Whether you shut the door to your office or go work in your car or at a local coffee shop, your lunch hour can be a golden opportunity to make some progress. After all, you’re already in work mode and hopefully “in the zone”, so why not extend that productivity to your music.
If you are home taking care of children or other adults, set your schedule so that they are occupied by a quiet activity or napping at this time so you can have at least an hour to devote to music.
What can you do with these short snippets or time?
Work on some lyrics you started writing. Starting from just a spark of inspiration,, you can get quite far on a set of lyrics in one hour. You can even use the internet at work for the thesaurus if you get stuck. If you keep your lyric ideas in Google drive, Dropbox, Evernote or your favorite cloud storage service, it will be very easy to pick right up where you left off no matter where and when you work on your lyrics.
Use the internet to research booking opportunities. Choose one method of research each day - newspaper calendar section, similar artist’s gig calendars, gigging websites - and focus on that specific kind of research for your lunch hour. That way, you have enough time to find some great connections without going down too many internet rabbit trails and wasting a lot more time (we’ve all wasted an entire afternoon this way haven’t we?). It’s useful to have a one hour time limit.
Make booking calls or follow up with venues you’ve already contacted by email. This might be the perfect time to catch them in their office or on email since it’s probably their lunch hour too.
Bring your instrument or track and practice in the car or in a remote part of the office. If you’re a vocalist, bring some tracks you can sing with or just use your iPod or phone to listen and review melodies and lyrics you need to memorize.
If you work in a city, try busking on your lunch hour. You might even make some new fans and a little cash while getting some practice time in.
3. Idle Time Can Be Learning Time
If your job involves a commute (car, subway. train or even plane), there’s no need to feel like that time is wasted. With tons of educational resources online like podcasts, audio books, courses, and physical books, you could be learning something new each day to advance your career or improve your music.
Subscribe to some podcasts about building a music career so your device will automatically download the episodes. That way you won’t have to use data or be in a wireless environment to learn and be inspired on the go. Some of my favorites are:
Female Entrepreneur Musician (of course)
If you’re already enrolled in an online course, take a few minutes at the beginning of your week to download some new modules to your phone, or login to the members area so you can easily access the content when you need it. This extra few minutes of thinking ahead will save you time and frustration later.
4. Invest in Help
If you’re working full-time, your time to spend on music can be quite limited. For you, time may actually be a more precious and scarce resource than money.
I highly recommend you invest a small portion of your weekly paycheck into a virtual assistant or local student to help you do some of the music-related tasks that don’t necessarily have to be done by you.
Spend your valuable time performing, connecting with fans, writing and recording music.
Get your new assistant to help you with social media posts, updating your website, managing your email list, writing your newsletter, writing blog posts and more.
If your day job is taking care of kids or adults at home, save up for some babysitting time. When I recorded my Holiday album, I built babysitting money into the budget so I could hire a college student to watch my girls, then 8 and 2, twice per week for 4 hour sessions so I could get the recording done.
It was a really smart investment. Had I not done that, I most certainly wouldn’t have gotten the release out on time.
Summing It Up
If you are juggling the demands of a full-time job, try these productivity hacks:
Choose one hour each day when you’ll be most productive and block it off on your calendar. This could be before work, in the evening or during your lunch hour.
Use your lunch hour to write, practice, perform or work on booking research and follow-up..
Do the prep work so you can have easy access to lots of audio and written music training during your commute.
Set aside some of your hard-earned money to invest in an assistant so your lack of time doesn’t prevent you from making progress.
If your day job involves taking care of family members:
Set aside an hour either before they get up or after they go to bed to work on music.
In addition, you hopefully can find a time when they are napping or doing a quiet activity in the middle of the day so you can sneak some more work time in.
Listen to audio podcasts, audio books or audio from courses you’ve purchased while doing household chores or in the car running errands.
Set aside some babysitting money or build it into your project budgets.
With just a little planning, you won’t have to feel like work and life is crowding out your music career. You will be surprised how productive you can be if you deliberately carve out small segments of time for music.
It does take a little forethought, preparation and organization, but it will be well worth it. Having a day job might make the road longer, but it doesn’t have to completely deter you from reaching your music career goals.
You got this!
Bree Noble quit her corporate job as a Director of Finance to pursue music. After a successful run as a touring singer/songwriter, she founded Women of Substance Radio to promote quality female artists in all genres. She hosts the Female Entrepreneur Musician Podcast where she teaches music marketing strategies and interviews successful Indie female artists and industry pros. Drawing on her extensive experience, Bree has created online courses to help musicians learn to make a living from their music. For more, visit www.femusician.com