The inspiration for today’s post comes, in part, from composer Griffin Candey. Griffin and I have been having a conversation about knowing your own pace for creative output, on and off, for the better part of this last year. There are plenty of us in classical music and new music who are consummate over-achiever types. We thrive on challenging circumstances and being able to show out mettle in the arena of “too much to do; not quite enough time.”
However, we are all parties in a delicate ecosystem. Composers write for musicians. Those musicians and organizations have to perform well for their audiences. If you do not know your own learning/writing speed, your missed deadlines and unprepared work begins to have a negative effect on that ecosystem. This complex, interdependent infrastructure will start to build an instinctive barrier to protect itself from someone who can’t keep it healthy and thriving.
In school, did any teacher or class talk to you about output criteria ― figuring out how much music you can write over how much time, the circumstances under which you work best, et cetera?
— ⭐ Griffin Hyphen ⭐ (@griffincandey) January 21, 2020
In Griffin’s Twitter thread, he elaborated, “I absolutely don’t want to connect ‘amount of output’ and ‘value as an artist’ ― it’s much more about knowing under what circumstances you work most healthily and happily!” That’s the direction we’re taking for today’s assignment. This is not about doing more. This is about knowing your own learning/writing/composing pace so that you can be the most efficient with your time.
Totally feel you! It’s not something that should be standardized for everyone; mostly, I see a huge majority of students / recent grads who don’t even know how to approach that question, and that’s a tremendous disservice to both them and to their potential collaborators.
— ⭐ Griffin Hyphen ⭐ (@griffincandey) January 21, 2020
29 Days to Diva Day 8 Assignment: Track Your Time
Many people responded to Griffin’s prompt sharing positive experiences and naming mentors who gave them great advice. I was still shocked to see how many didn’t feel like they were guided on discovering their own process for balancing time needed for a project and how that impacts the overall timeline for that project.
Misjudging Timelines Can Have Disastrous Consequences
I admit to learning this the hard way in my very early years out of my masters program. There is no making up for not having a role learned in the expected timeframe. Every singer who has tried to cram-practice for a jury and every composer who has tried to cram-pose for a deadline knows that. Thankfully, my misjudgment at the time was a contained experience and did not have a lasting impact on my career beyond burning that particular bridge. Even a contained negative experience in that way can have a lingering negative effect. The farther you advance through generalist, specialist, expert, authority levels, the more disastrous the consequences can be for misjudging the time you need to adequately meet and exceed expectations.
[Like the images that you see in the 29 Days to Diva series? Haute Stock helps me quickly create gorgeous graphics for The Sybaritic Singer.]
This is a Micro Action. Start Now!
Do not make this assignment more complicated than the micro action it is. Choose the time tracking tool you want to use and get started. (I like to use toggl. It is easy and free. Plus, it has really useful reporting.)
Time Tracking & the Gig Economy
In our world, we are often bouncing around from our desks to our rehearsal spaces to our gigs to our day jobs. We very rarely engage in the “standard workweek” that workers in many countries around the globe do. So, tracking your time starts to give you some valuable information across the many facets of your life. It begins to tell you exactly how many hours it took you to learn and memorize that opera role, for example. You can also start to see some of your own peaks and valleys in workflow or output.
Armed with this data, you’ll be able to schedule future projects into your professionally creative life more efficiently. Your understanding of the time it takes will help you reverse engineer your learning or writing process from the deadline. It may even help you create a buffer in your schedule for the fact that life always happens. It is rare, but not unheard of, to make it through an entire season without something that blindsides you and changes your allotted time for a project. Time tracking will help you notice dangerous hazards ahead like bottlenecks or working beyond capacity for too long.
More Efficiency Means More ‘You Time’
Be diligent about your time tracking but don’t overthink it. The best thing that this will do is to provide excellent data when making future decisions. Being clear about how long your process takes will make you more efficient. More efficiency means more time to enjoy being with the people and pets you love, more time to relax and recharge, and more time to do whatever the hell you want, honestly.
Divas, do you already track your time when it comes to your singing life? Quick aside: once you start tracking your time more diligently, you may also begin to notice where you’re losing money on gigs you thought were sources of income. Even though that can feel painful at first, it’s helpful information.
What other realizations have you made when tracking your time? I would love to hear about them. You can tell me about it in the comments below. Or, share with me on social media. I’m @mezzoihnen. You can message me or talk about it in your stories and tag me. Don’t forget to use #29DaysToDiva or #29DTD. I cannot wait to hear about your takeaways and ah-ha moments!
Did you like this post?
If your ears perked up earlier when you read about how I break down the career path into four distinct areas: generalist, specialist, expert, and authority, you’re going to really like 29 Days to Diva: Day 2 – Know Thyself which elaborates on that idea. Because you’re serious about living a professionally creative life, it makes only makes sense that you desire to advance through these levels and reach “authority” status in your niche.