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[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Suzanne Paulinski.]

There’re no two ways about it – 2020 is only halfway done and it’s already taken an immense toll on people on a global level. For too long you’ve been programed to ‘Hustle 24/7’ and sleep when you’re dead and experience pain because that’s what creates great art.

Well I’m calling bullsh*t.

What good is building a successful career if you don’t have the time to enjoy it? Life is not made up solely of goals – life also happens in the journey between the goals.

But, right now that life feels greatly out of your control, am I right? So how can you continue to work towards your goals and enjoy life and feel in control of the time you’re given amidst a global shutdown when you could barely manage a work/life balance before the world began spinning off its axis?

Here are three tips for pandemic-proofing your time so that you can continue to reach your goals no matter what life throws at you:

Identify Your Priorities

While some are wishing to cancel this past year altogether, others are realizing maybe this is the year the world’s been waiting for – maybe we all needed to hit pause a bit and reevaluate our priorities.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to redefine your hustle – in other words, break the rules the music industry has taught you and write out your own rules for building the career you want based on what matters to you. After all, no one is more of an expert on identifying your priorities than you.

This can feel difficult when you’re not sure of your next steps and look to experts in the industry to tell you what strategies are best and where is best to invest your time, money, and energy. But, when it comes to managing your time, your priorities are going to be the deciding factor in how you spend your time.

A plant grows when you water it, and the same principle applies in growing your career. If you spend your time comparing yourself to others online, or spread your focus thin across multiple tasks at once, you’re not going to get very far. When you put your energy into what matters and you work with intention you will see the needle move a lot faster.

Get clear on what matters in your life and what is most pressing as it relates to your career goals. Draw strict boundaries around your time and make sure the time you do have is spent focusing on only those priorities, everything else can wait.

Make Yourself a Priority

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to do it all, by the fear of falling behind, by the lack of time, income and energy to get it all done – take a moment. Breathe in. Breathe out.

This is not a matter of not being capable, or not having enough time. It’s a matter of getting clear on your priorities, and you are one of them.

One of the many rules we need to break that we’ve learned a little too well from this industry is that we have to suffer to prove how much we want to it.

Learn from the myriad of lessons that have come before – the suicides, the drug overdoses, the mental illness, the burn out – nothing is worth losing yourself and/or time with your loved ones. According to this Rolling Stone article, ”In a 2018 study from the music industry research association, 50% of musicians reported battling symptoms of depression, compared with less than 25% of the general adult population.”

Lack of sleep and an unbalanced diet can lead to heightened emotions and an inability to think clearly and rationally. Building a career in music requires clear, focused decision-making skills and a lot of confidence and faith in your abilities.  

Schedule time off. Schedule time to take care of you. It doesn’t have to take long, but consistently taking care of yourself will allow you to put more energy and focus into your goals, without your mind, body and emotions turning on you.

Give Yourself Less Time

Another rule that must be broken is this ‘24/7 Hustle’ approach. There’s nothing wrong with hustling and working hard, but planning in a 24-hour day is misleading and unattainable, causing you to over-plan your days and set yourself up for failure.

When you think in a 24-hour time frame you grossly overestimate how much you can get done in one day, and then when you don’t accomplish all of your goals that day you feel lazy and immediately stressed that you’re now behind the ball. In reality, you’ve set the bar impossibly high and you become blinded from seeing the things you did accomplish and do right.

By planning in a 4-hour day you’re allowing yourself to be more realistic with choosing what to focus on getting done. If 8 hours are set aside for sleep, if you plan on eating, going to the bathroom, running errands, and maintaining your home, you have a lot less time than you think.

Not to mention if you have kids, a day job, a chronic illness, a mental health issue, and – oh yea – life around you happening that you can’t control (i.e. a global shutdown or mercury retrogrades that cause your tech to act up or a family member becoming ill or the news chipping away at your faith in the world every day).

Give yourself LESS time to dedicate to your priorities so you can move through the day less overwhelmed, stop feeling like a failure, and get closer to reaching your goals each and every day.

Define your own hustle on your own terms and start to feel more in control of your time, your life, and your future.

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