How to Keep Your Music Career Going When You Work Full Time
For the month of November, I’m working full time as a temporary dental assistant. I used to work for this dental office years ago and loved it, so when they asked if I was willing to come back, I jumped at the chance. It’s a great way to catch up with my former co-workers and gets me out of the house. Plus, the holidays are coming and I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t use the extra cash.
But man, I forgot all about how hard it was to juggle working full time and do music. Since music is my full-time job, of course I need to take it seriously and keep at it. This job is only for a month so I’ll be fine. But for those of you who work full time and want to have a music career, here are some tips I’ve learned from doing both separately and doing them together:
Music Career vs Full-Time Career
Depending on your life situation, you may work more than 40 hours a week. You might have kids, or also be in school. I totally understand and appreciate how stressed you are (I used to work full time, take college classes part-time and also work on music). Before we get into the tips, let’s take a minute to breathe and relax.
This list is designed to help you through your stress, not create more of it. If something seems like it’s going to stress you out, don’t do it. Only try the ones you think might help.
1). Schedule in Advance
I mean everything. Schedule your social media (use Buffer, Hootsuite, etc). This will allow you to maintain your online presence without having to actually *be* present. You’ll want to check in and respond to people of course, but this will allow you to do it on your own time. Schedule when you’ll work on music for the month coming up. Get a planner or calendar and block out chunks of time. Got a holiday weekend coming up? Perfect time to dedicate to music. If your work week varies, this is even more important because it will help you stay on track.
Do you *need* to attend that bridal shower of your friend’s coworker’s cousin? Learning to say “no” is important, and it will benefit your music career. However, part of prioritizing means not putting off important things for music. Keep your dentist appointment. Go to the gym when you can. Do the things you need to do to stay healthy. If you haven’t seen friends in a while (and you actually want to see them and enjoy it), meet them for a bit. Maintain a life balance as much as you can.
3). Keep Yourself Motivated
You might not feel like working on music when you get home, but what if you made a vision board or kept a poster of your favorite artist visible? I love vision boards. You can put inspirational artists or photos of goals you want to achieve on them, and looking at it will help you get into the right mindset. I don’t struggle with motivation anymore because I have paying clients waiting for me, so that’s all I need. Maybe planning a live show would give you the motivation to work and practice. Give yourself a release date for your new single. Whatever you need to stay on your toes, use it.
4). Practice Self Care
As much as you might want to keep yourself motivated, tonight might just not be the night for you to work on music. That’s okay. Give your mind and body the space it needs to recover. I always ask myself, what would clients rather have: their song finished sooner but it doesn’t sound great because my voice is ragged and tired, or wait a few extra days and the song is everything they hoped it would be? Whenever I offer the option, they always choose the latter. If you don’t have clients, just think of what will give you the best result. If you’re not on your A-game tonight, don’t force it.
5). Create As Much As You Can, When You Can
Because I knew this temporary job was coming up, I had time to buckle down and get a lot of my blogs and YouTube videos done in advance. Now they are waiting for me and I can post as needed. If you’re a blogger or vlogger, do this whenever you get a chance. If you just make music, use the time you have to create ideas to revisit in the future.Create as much as you can, when you can. Click To Tweet
6). Don’t Neglect Your Social Media
I know, this seems like the last thing you’d want to do when you’re super busy. Trust me though, no one will care about your music if they don’t know who you are. When people search for you, they’ll (hopefully) stumble across any social media platforms you use. Let’s hope your last Tweet wasn’t from 2014 about a song you’re working on, with no evidence that the song was ever released. If you hate using a social media platform, delete the account or put it on private mode for a while. Focus on the ones you love and make sure you check in to remind people that you’re still creating music. I have a post where I interviewed a social media expert for tips. If social media makes you feel overwhelmed, see #1!
7). Keep a Long-Term To Do List
It’s easy to get home and totally forget what you were supposed to work on. To Do lists are great for this and will help you stay on track. Instead of a daily To Do list (which will likely stress you out), create a weekly list of tasks you can work on when you have time. If you get home and feel like working on something, check your list and see what you can get done.
8). Remember, it’s All Temporary
You might be in a busy season at work and have no time to sleep, let alone work on music. You might have time, but the ideas won’t come. You might be in school or your kid is in a play or whatever, but nothing lasts. Ride out the tough and busy times. You’ll always be a musician, that desire won’t leave you if you can’t work on it for a while.
The music industry is full of stories of people who “worked day and night” on their music. I know we can all relate to this, and I know we all hope to one day be working just on music and having it pay off. For now, though, hopefully these tips will help you keep music in your life, while keeping your job and your sanity.
How do you juggle life and music? Do you have any tips I didn’t share? Please let me know!