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28 Days to Diva: Day 3 – Practice Mindful Scheduling (#28daystodiva)

February 3, 2013


Okay, sorry, just had to put that out there… Now, on with the show.

Americans overschedule themselves from cradle to grave, but being busy is no substitute for an engaged and meaningful life.
Jennifer Howard

It is no great secret that many musicians almost revel in the busyness of their lives. News feeds tick on and on with friends and colleagues counting the number of weekends they have gone without an actual weekend. Granted, we take on performances, teaching jobs, church gigs, and more which usually happen on the weekends but are we also filling our schedules to the breaking point for the entire week? The answer is yes. Your schedule is full – but with what? I do not feel I am going out on a limb by saying affirmatively, “your busy schedule is preventing you from reaching your bigger goals.” On day 3 of our month-long journey to divatown the challenge is to practice mindful scheduling.

Busyness is a form of distraction which is stalling you from making bigger and better decisions. This distraction presents itself in different ways. One of the obvious forms is taking on too many gigs; which I call the “jack of all trades; master of none” problem. This problem usually stems from a place of insecurity. It is time to come to terms with that. Perhaps you are reading this and thinking, “but, I don’t have enough gigs!” If you don’t fall under the first area, chances are you are still filling your life with busyness in a different form such as the “my kids take up all my time” issue. Whatever the form, challenge yourself to identify where you are overscheduling yourself. Just because the entries in your appointment book are all positive, “fun” things, does not mean that you can do all of them.

If you are a chronic overscheduler, now is the best time to get serious with what you are able to accomplish logistically and with your sanity intact. This also means you absolutely must learn how to say “no” to things – be they resume-builders, fascinating projects, networking jamborees, or other truly positive-sounding things.

Let’s talk some tips for practicing mindful scheduling:

  • Have only one day-planner (or electronic device) in which you keep track of all rehearsals, performances, call-times, lessons, and anything else in your daily schedule.
  • Plan for re-charge time. This is not the 20 minutes in which you collapse in front of the TV. This is 20 minutes (or whatever you can manage) in which you recharge your batteries.
  • Be aware of the prep time you will need to achieve your performance goals. You will need to set aside time for personal practice. Things that happen before the first rehearsal need to be written down into your schedule as well as ALL of the rehearsals to which you are called to avoid scheduling conflicts.
  • Before saying yes to a gig, check for rehearsal conflicts with all parts of your life: husband’s birthday, church choir rehearsal, travel time from lessons to rehearsal.
  • That travel time is a biggie. I am notorious in my household for my misguided belief that it only takes 15 minutes to get anywhere. Baltimore City seems to think otherwise. You will save yourself many headaches if you think about the travel time you will need to get from place to place.
  • Be very clear when communicating with others. If you are coordinating, give your collaborators specific information about where exactly to be, what time, what exactly they should wear. Do not perceive this point as micro-managing. This is more about cutting down on millions of back and forth emails so that you can free up more of your precious time.
  • Come clean with where your priorities really lie. If you are not making time for practice or for yoga or whatever, there is a reason.

The resident divas of this land did not get where they are by letting themselves get bogged down in busyness. Nor did they let insecurity win and fill up their lives just to show that they are “doing it.” Rising-divas take note: practicing mindful scheduling will help you get from singing another non-essential gig to singing at the top of the game.

Yeah, mine doesn’t look like this either…

What are your tips for clearing the clutter from your day-to-day? Help a sister out and please leave them in the comments below.

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