As I have made my transition from the New World into the Real World I am finding myself having to deal with a lot of things that I have started calling (to myself) “life maintenance tasks” – all of those little things that simply must get done, but they only get in the way of everything else that you’d rather be doing. Now, I know that by even writing these words I am making myself sound ridiculously underdeveloped, but let’s face it, most of us musicians are. We spend most of our lives in La-La-Land while others our age have long since grown up. But that is a different subject entirely.
What I really want to share with you is just a couple of quick rules that I have started living by and that have helped me to be so much more productive in this vast wasteland of free time known as freelancing. These tips are by no means revolutionary or earth-shattering, but I hope that some of my friends (and maybe some strangers) in similar positions as myself will get some use out of them.
1. MONEY MONDAYS: I’ve always been pretty good with money, but this new life has lead to many more financial obligations and more complexity than I have ever experienced up to this point (I’m sure it only gets worse). So, I’ve enacted a weekly ceremony that I call Money Monday that takes place, as it were, every Monday morning. Simply put, this is the one time during the week where I really focus on all matters financial. Bills are paid. Upcoming bills are planned for. Budgets are reassessed. Net worth is reviewed. And, most importantly, the past week’s spending is picked over using the amazing Mint.com website. Every expense on record gets a looking over, gets categorized, receives a tag if it is eligible for a tax write-off, and receives additional notes if it needs them. Pretty simple stuff, but I’ve found it so helpful to deal with these things on a weekly basis. And with everything taken care of at the beginning of the week, my mind is free to worry about other matters for another 7 days. If a financial task pops up that doesn’t need need immediate attention, it is simply added to the queue to be dealt with on Monday.
2. COMPUTERLESS MORNINGS: I honestly cannot believe how much of an effect this simple change has had on my days. I don’t need to say much about what a time-suck the internet can be. We all know it. In fact, it’s kind of happening to you right now, isn’t it? ;) By simply leaving my computer closed all morning, not opening it once (because once you do, it’s all over), I get my days started at least an hour earlier every day – easily. If I didn’t have an iPhone, I don’t know how well I would do at this. I check my email in bed every morning, read some facebook updates, check in on twitter, and then I GET A FRIGGIN MOVE ON. Now, having some web and graphic design work to attend to, I can’t go all day avoiding my computer. However, by the time I do crack the laptop open in the afternoon, I am much more focused on the work ahead of me and less likely to meander around some trashy blog. Try it out out for yourself. Maybe your computer wasteland comes later in the day, say after work? Well then maybe you’ll want to be computerless until after dinner. Just find that time when you are most wasteful, and eliminate it.
So, like I said, nothing revolutionary here. But I hope it helps some folks. Do you have rules, tips, and routines that you’ve set in place for yourself that make a huge difference in your life? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!