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This article originally appeared on Living On Gigging.
You may have thought that you only need a plan when you're mapping out travel logistics for your next tour, or when you're coordinating who's bringing what dish to the next family holiday gathering, or when you're scheduling a record release. But we make plans to actually prevent chaos, increase efficiency, and see better results. And as musicians, we can use as much help as we can to create consistency in our schedules and to boost the productivity that we are so often generating on our own. So why not make a daily success plan?
You can read this article, "A Day in the Life of a Music Maker," to see what my day can typically look like. But what there really is to put in place is what happens before the day even begins – the night before and right when waking up.
The night before
- Break out your calendar and just double-check that you have everything scheduled for tomorrow that you need to get done. Ideally, once a week – most likely on a Sunday night – I schedule my whole week with the intention of being in a new place the following week. That means taking those to-do lists and putting them into reality – i.e., in your schedule – so that they get done. And then having 100 percent integrity with your calendar and doing what it's telling you to do! If you have extra space, fill it with something that will help center you, like a walk, a call to your mom, or a little extra creative writing time.
- Acknowledge what you accomplished in the day. Whether you finally finished writing that song or you drafted an email to a publishing company you've been wanting to pitch, or you didn't order that third beer, however big or small you may think your accomplishments are, write them down or focus intently on them.
- Right before falling asleep, I ask my subconscious to help solve a problem while I sleep. (This is a thing.) I don't dwell on the problem; I give it up and am open to having clarity around it in the morning.
In the morning
- Upon waking up, when still in bed, I think of a few things I'm extremely grateful for while drinking a glass of water. Part of why I do this gratitude work is a little hippy dippy, but I like to give the universe some positive reinforcement (we all need it, right?) on what's been working for me. Another reason why I wake up with gratitude is to get really present to the things I love. I have truly seen a difference in my day when I'm thinking about those things – it's like inviting them back in and giving space for them to show up again.
- Get physical. This is the part of the morning everyone does differently – the part where you connect your mind to your body. This may mean a hardcore workout, a 10-minute meditation, or a yoga class. For me, it's a few lower back exercises and a swim practice with my masters team, but for you, it can be whatever you can doconsistently. Follow it up with a healthy breakfast or something.
- Think about what problems you can solve today. Do you have any clarity around the one you gave up to your subconscious last night? Look at your to-do lists and figure out what it is you really need to do in order to move forward. What's the one thing you are dreading doing? I'd start with that. When you complete that dreaded task (a good friend of mine calls it her "frog" task), give yourself some reward, whether a cup of coffee, a 10-minute play session with your dog, or a walk around the block.
This is very much a rinse-and-repeat process. Find what works for you. Start to build positive habits through repetition. And did you notice that "check Facebook," "respond to every email," and "press the snooze button" were not included in this list? There's a reason for that! And by this point, I'm sure you know what they are. So stick to your guns. You deserve an awesome day, and you're the one who gets to say how that goes!
Next up: find out what successful musicians do differently (and what you might not be doing at all).
Cheryl B. Engelhardt founded CBE Music, a music creation and sonic branding firm, and has produced her own piano pop records, toured around the globe, has had dozens of TV placements and scored multiple films and commercials. Passionate about supporting musicians, Cheryl hosts popular workshops, video trainings, and other valuable resources on her website, In The Key Of Success. Get her free PDF for insider tips on how to make it in the music biz.