How to manage your time as a touring musician

Booking a gig if you have no agent can be time consuming, also travelling to record as a session musician and make ends meet could also mean having a part-time job, so how do you manage your time best?

Does this sounds familiar? You wake up bright-eyed, ready to tackle the day. You have all the energy and intention to get your to-dos done and then some. Then somewhere along the way, you’re being pulled in many different directions. Someone needs your attention, or you’re just plain exhausted. We have all been there – some days are so chaotic that any semblance of a schedule seems impossible. It can feel like you’re constantly running behind.

On top of that, you’re probably wearing many hats as a musician – trying to create music, book shows, keep up with social media presence… the list goes on! It might leave you wondering how others get it done. But here’s the truth – we have to actively learn how to manage our time. Here are some tips to help you organize your day and make room for music.

Learn what moves the needle most

It may get overwhelming when faced with a never-ending to-do list. However, if you examine that list, you may find that you can prioritize those tasks and single out the essential ones.

Ask yourself: what moves the needle the most? With limited time in the day, it’s crucial to identify the tasks that will add value to your journey as a musician and give you the most results. For instance, is it playing shows? Press? Social media engagement? Once you’ve identified key areas where you see the most results, you will be able to prioritize them during your day.

Set aside a specific time to do those things

Have you noticed that you tend to be more productive when you have less time allocated to a task? It’s because you’re in efficiency mode, turning off all distractions physically and mentally. Most importantly, you’ve made the mental shift required to complete the task in the amount of time you have.

A key to managing your time is to do this with a set schedule. This schedule can change, but it’s important to set it every week and stick to it. Things don’t happen just because you want them to — you have to make the time to create the opportunity.

For example, it’s been your intention to up your social media game, but you’ve been procrastinating on posting it – the time is never right, or you can’t find a free moment. However, you could set aside 10 minutes to engage with your fans on Instagram while waiting for your morning cuppa to brew. That way, you’ve made a conscious effort to carve out time and create a routine to achieve your goals.

Be flexible but hold yourself accountable

In the above example, I wanted to illustrate how small moments can help you get things done. However, ideally, you should schedule larger chunks of time for the tasks that require it.

This could look like getting up an hour earlier once a week to schedule out your social media content, or setting aside nights where you work on recurring tasks like booking shows, press, or goal setting.

While you may not adhere to your music schedule 100%, having a framework to go off of will end up making your time more productive and structured. However, you should also be willing to adjust when it isn’t working. For instance, you could have set 5pm as your time to do this but constantly blow it off. Find a different time or start being disciplined about sitting down at 5pm. Be sure to adjust accordingly to what works for your schedule, but also hold yourself accountable.

Embrace delegation

You may not have enough time or bandwidth to handle all your tasks, or you may not want to juggle everything on your own! It’s important to learn and embrace delegating tasks to others. Countless of your favorite brands and bands have a support system that helps them manage their careers. Most successful musicians would have had help from a team, be it press, marketing, booking agent, etc.

Team members are necessary for your growth. If you’re serious about treating music as your career, engaging the support of others will allow you to focus on what you do best – creating music.

What is your biggest struggle when it comes to managing your time?

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Hannah Fuller


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