How to Maintain Work-Life Balance for Songwriters and Musicians
I recently wrote a post about how to stay motivated in the music business (you can check that out here), but I think that if you have a decent work-life balance, you can actually avoid burnout.
Work-Life balance can be tough if music isn’t your main source of work, or life. You’ll need to shove music into either work or life, but we can help you find a strategy here!
How a Musician Can Find Work-Life Balance
If music isn’t your full-time job, that means you likely already have a job (or school, etc) and you also have to have a life. So, where should music fit? Even if it is your full-time job, like it is for me, you might still have a hard time being a freelancer and knowing when to work and play. I’m still working to find a balance, but these are a few things that have helped me thus far:
1). Write Out Your Whole Schedule
You can do this in whatever way makes sense for you, whether it’s an actual physical calendar, a list, a spreadsheet, whatever you like. Just write down *everything,* from the time you wake up until you go to sleep.
This is where you’ll notice how you spend your life. If you have an hour drive to an 8-hour job, that’s 10 hours of your day. Assuming you sleep 8 hours (please do), you have roughly 6 hours of your day left. It may seem like a lot, but when you add other things you’ll probably notice how quickly it evaporates.
2). Determine How Many Hours You Can Reasonably Work on Music
“Reasonably” is key. I’m sure you’d love to work 20 hours a week on music, but if you’re working full time and you have any semblance of a life, friends or family, that won’t be possible. I would aim for maybe 5 hours a week to start, then modify from there.
3). Be Honest About Your Work Ethic
I had to really come to terms with myself this summer and admit that I HATE WORKING when it’s nice out. It’s sunny and gorgeous outside and I don’t want to be in a dark stuffy booth. I grew resentful of my work and my performance suffered as a result. So, I learned that I need to take more time off in the summer. No use forcing myself into something that I’ll hate.
How is this true for you?
Are you going to be your most creative, productive self if you wake up at 4am to work on music? Some might say yes, but if that’s not you, don’t do it! Be reasonable with yourself. After all, the Life part of Work-Life balance is equally important!
4). Be Picky With Your Commitments
As an introvert, it’s very easy for me to turn down invitations. I have no problem staying home and working because I love being alone. If you’re an extrovert, this might be a challenge. You might have to cancel some plans, or quit doing certain things that aren’t helping you.
If you need permission to quit that club you hate, or you’re looking for a sign that you should go part-time and work on music….I’m not giving that to you. Sorry! I don’t know you or your situation. But, use the next tip to help:
5). Ask For Help
Look to people you trust for advice. Talk to your boss about working remotely a few days a week. See if you can afford a maid to remove your cleaning time. However you can carve more time out in your day, see if you can make it work. This might not be possible though, and that’s okay.
6). Be Real – How Important is Music to You?
Soooo many people say music is “the most important thing in the world” to them. These same exact people will pull a no-call, no-show to a gig because they got into a fist fight with their stepdad. They show up late to practice and don’t know their parts.
Your actions speak louder than words here, and you need to hear this: It’s okay if music isn’t your #1 priority in life, but you need to be honest with yourself. You’re doing yourself a huge disservice to pretend like it’s more important than your kids. You’re doing your bandmates a disservice by constantly dropping the ball.
7). Embrace the Imbalance
This kind of negates everything I already said, but the honest truth is that it’s very difficult to have true ‘balance.’ The Atlantic suggests in this article that the best way to create work-life balance is to accept that there isn’t one, and just go with the flow.
You may get to the end of this and realize that you don’t have enough Life in your Work-Life balance, and you want to do music less. That’s okay! You may also find that you want to do it more and you can find ways to make it happen. That’s great too! Only you can know what works for you.