Something I seem to have frequent conversations about with my partner (also a musician) and my self employed friends is the number of hats we wear on a daily basis.
It’s something I really struggle with. Too much work, not enough time.
It’s 11.37pm when I start writing this, I’m wired after a weekend of gigs and over 12 hours of driving to and fro… and my body clock has shifted back to night owl time, which is not going to work with a day job and a routine to stick too. I’m meant to be at the gym tomorrow morning for a session and I normally wake at 7am for it – eeek. Having been a bad sleeper all my life I’ve worked really hard to get in to some kind of normal routine for myself, but still I often find myself up at 3am doing chores or reading or wandering about watching bad TV trying to get myself back off to sleep. Rather than waking up at 3am though, getting up and then nodding back off, I’m now in the routine of going to bed at that time after gigs and a bit of partying after on Saturday. Hmm, need to reset this somehow!
Whilst I try to wind down I realise I need to reset by maybe an hour or two rather than trying to sleep 3 hours earlier than I want to and getting frustrated. My brain needs an outlet, so I start writing this blog…
Today, I realise, I’ve worn a lot of hats. Before 2pm I have been a songwriter, singer, videographer and video editor, social media butterfly; manager, booker and emailer extraordinaire (Zzzzz), stock and book keeper/accountant and business woman; a distributer, packing orders then taking them to the post office myself and stopping off at the bank too. Not to mention I’ve met friends for a coffee, done the Wilko stock up on cleaning and home stuff, put away a food shop that was delivered, cleaned the bathroom, cooked dinner, ironed, done some washing and sorted out some issues with my landlord to do with my flat. I still have a load of merch to put away tomorrow and I need to call the garage about my car as someone ran in to the back of it at the weekend before my gig (minor annoyance and damage). Right now I feel buzzed because my body clock is messed up, but I am normally exhausted at this point. I have days where I feel I can do everything and I’m super productive… but mostly I just can’t… and it feels like wading through mud.
I shouldn’t try to, and cannot do, everything – I am slowly learning.
It’s taken me a long while to get to the point of understanding that when you inhabit many roles in your job it’s important to take time out for yourself. I loathe the words ‘self-care’ but I understand the meaning behind it. For me, as a perfectionist and an anxious self conscious person, I crave the validation for my downtime; every minute must be earned, accounted for and ‘useful’. I know this isn’t healthy so I’m working on it every day as part of my self development; it’s quite the battle on some days.
An important step for me in allowing myself to take time and feel in control is to regularly lay out what I actually do on paper; a sort of ever-changing map of myself. In doing so, I try to see what I am doing, or not doing more often than not! The truth is, I’m spread too thin, but for now I simply have to put the work in, because no one else will do it for me. I ask for help where I can, but most of the time, the buck stops with me.
Making daily to-do lists helps, though I can often over fill it and fret about the unticked boxes waiting for me the next day… I’m learning to pick the most important tasks and just do those before others… it’s easy to procrastinate on small tasks like housework that could actually wait, when you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by the big tasks!
As well as having larger goals, setting small routine scheduled tasks with reachable deadlines, or doing tasks that reoccur weekly, bi weekly or monthly seems to help me feel more in control and validated… and it helps when the next strange and unpredictable thing such as a last minute gig or meeting or event comes in that from one week to the next, which previously I could find utterly anxiety inducing and just too much. I also seem to understand now that trying to be creative and administrative are too completely separate head spaces and cycles, and should be treated as such… they should also be divided clearly in some way where possible… whether that be in workspace or schedule, or simply by taking time out in the day to meditate and reset before the so called ‘flip’ between the two.
I’m also learning I need to stop punishing myself on days where I work my day job for achieving ‘nothing’… and realising that I can get more done on a day when I’m at home and I’m able to be a bit kinder to myself.
…As I finish writing this, I’m proud that I took time out of my day today to break and meet friends, and tomorrow after a few tasks, I will be taking a few hours out and teaching myself to make samosas for the first time (though I couldn’t resist boiling the potatoes ahead of time to be efficient… *sigh!*). Cooking, socialising, meditation, exercise and reading and TV seem to help me escape from my head a little bit so I’m learning to more of these, and I’m trying to keep mindful that I don’t have to always drive myself like a mule… because often when I do, I’m at my least happy and therefore productive. A kinder balance between work and life is the goal and should be for everyone. After all, life is for living.