[Editors Note: This article was written by Suzanne Paulinski.]

So many times in this business we default to the “pay your dues” mentality – that voice that tells us that if it doesn’t hurt we’re not working hard enough. We turn ourselves into pretzels to ensure we don’t miss an opportunity that may lead to the opportunity – whatever that may be for us.

However, any successful person will tell you their time is gold, and they’ve likely drawn tall barriers around it to keep the precious commodity safe. This shift in perspective around how we expend our time and energy is crucial in order to go from struggling freelancer to successful music-preneur.

It can feel absolutely counter-intuitive, but being selfish around your time and not doing all of the things all of the time will attract the right people and opportunities into your space. It will also make you more productive and keep you better focused.

Not buying it? Below are three reasons to help convince you it pays (literally) to be selfish with your time and energy, taking time for what your body needs rather than worrying about what everybody else needs or expects of you.

1. It allows you to re-energize.

The only thing burning the candle at both ends does is shorten the amount of time you’re able to create and be productive. Your career in music is a marathon, not a sprint.

You’ll get more done with more energy to focus. Rather than keeping yourself occupied with “busy work” and no real intention or focus (because you’re too tired to be able to do that), you’ll use your time more wisely with purposeful action.

2. It allows you to get re-inspired. 

How can you continue to create new art, new products, and generate new ideas if you don’t continue to be inspired to create? Locking yourself inside to “be productive” is only hurting your work in the long run, and running all over the place to try and be everywhere at once is just as bad because you’re never in one place long enough to take any of it in. And how does that enable you to serve others and create anything meaningful?

Take time for yourself to digest the experiences you’ve had and reflect on what’s happening around you. Art comes from one’s experiences and inner feelings, and you need to understand what those experiences and feelings are in order to express them through your art.

3. It allows you to have better relationships.

Be selective when it comes to the events you attend, the people you serve, and the actions you take to serve them. Attending every live show, going to all of the networking events, and trying to be all things to all people – while trying to give attention to your music, personal responsibilities and health – is not an achievable goal. It’s a prescription for burnoutitis.

Is attending a 6pm networking event followed by a 10pm show the best use of your time? Maybe, if being around people energizes you and you’re at a place in your career where you’re looking to connect with more colleagues. But, if you have an early day the next day and project deadlines looming, bowing out of one or both events isn’t going to ruin your chances at building industry relationships.

You can’t serve from an empty vessel, as they say. If you burnout, what good can you be to other people? If you run around on empty trying to help others while your brain is still spinning with anxiety, stress, exhaustion, you name it, how can you be fully tuned into someone else’s needs?

Afraid to miss someone who may or may not attend the event you need to bow out of? Locate their contact information online and reach out to them letting them know you regretfully can’t make the event but would love to make plans to meet them for coffee/lunch. Chances are they were planning on bowing out as well.

No one needs to know why you’ve bowed out. No one is owed any explanation. Stop worrying about what you’ll say to explain why you can’t make something or why you can’t commit to someone and simply say, “No, thanks.”

Always remember there’s a time and place for everything. You have the power to decide when it’s time to see your friends and family, when it’s time to offer favors and pay it forward, and when it’s time to shut it all out and focus on your work and/or your health.

It doesn’t matter if you’re finishing an important project or saying in to turn in early. It may not feel very “rock n’ roll” but your career will thank you in the long run.

Here’s to being a bit more selfish and a lot more productive. Tell us in the comments below what you’ll be a little more selfish about this week!


Suzanne Paulinksi is an artist consultant with over 10 years in the music industry and owner of The Rock/Star Advocate.

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