The ongoing dialogue about the similarity between independent musicians and entrepreneurs is a well-worn one. Both are responsible for shaping their own careers, building their own teams, setting their own goals and working towards the milestones that will turn their dreams into reality. But they also suffer from one very common struggle: time management.

Understandably! Whether you are a solo artist working on your own or have a band that you can share the responsibilities with, the amount of time it takes to get through the never-ending task-load can very quickly surpass the number of hours in a day, week or year. It can feel crushing thinking about everything you have to do and how you’l ever find the time to do it.

However, if you want to make a business out of your music, the act of making the music is just one small part of the puzzle. Time management is the most important skill to have in this industry.

This VENN Diagram of our Total Tuneup explains all of the moving parts you must be aware of:



But WAIT – there’s more 🙂

  • Recording
  • Marketing
  • Booking
  • Touring
  • Community Management
  • Content Creation
  • Email/ Communication
  • Analysis
  • Meetings

Let’s not forget: just because you are a musician doesn’t mean you don’t have outside obligations that need to be fulfilled:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Exercising
  • Day Job
  • Running Errands
  • Sleep

But we aren’t just going to leave you hanging with no plan! Here are 5 tactics that will help you manage your time effectively:

Tactic #1 – Plan

Planning is the Key

Mapping out your plan isn’t just essential, it is literally the answer to effective time management. It is the foundation on which the rest of your time management strategies are built, so let’s discuss this one first.

Whether it is at the top of the year, quarter, month, week or day, you should have a plan of attack.

This plan should include:


Tactic #2 – Prioritize

Prioritize What You Want First

Not all tasks are created equal. If you’re treating everything on your to-do list with equal urgency, you’re adding unnecessary stress and probably feeling like you’re in an endless cycle of turning your wheels and seeing no results.

There is an amazing book by Brian Tracy called Eat that Frog! that I re-visit often for how well it lays out the concept of time management. The message is simple: take a look at all of the tasks you have to do and then determine which tasks are most aligned with your goals. Then, do those tasks first.

So if your goal is to tour in the Fall, prioritize routing your tour, setting up shows, and press in those areas. If your goal is to release new music make sure you have studio time booked, a publicist secured, and a plan for your release.

Some of these will be daily tasks and others will be weekly, but either way, you’ll be accomplishing the most important tasks first, which will remove the stress and resistance of handling other tasks later on.

Carve Out Time for Total Focus

One of the best books I have ever read Cal Newport’s DEEP WORK: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World argues that wasting time on our phones on social media and texting and inboxes destroys our ability to focus on activities of high worth. Cal is an assistant professor at Georgetown University, in computer science, and includes in this list of activities “the shiny tangle of infotainment sites like BuzzFeed and Reddit.” All of it, he says, divides our attention spans and pull us away from the things that truly feed us and allow us to leave our marks.

That’s not to say don’t spend any time on these sites, after all, social media is an important part of your marketing strategy. It just means be mindful about the time you use social media. If it helps, you can set a specific time (for example, for twenty minutes at 5pm every day) to check in, schedule posts, and stay current.

Tactic #3 – Automate 

Get An Automation Strategy In Place

Every day we’re bombarded with a seemingly endless number of responsibilities that are essential for upholding our vision, online presence, and brand. While individual tasks like sharing the latest blog post on Facebook and Twitter may seem like they take no time at all, they can take up a considerable chunk of our time and divert attention from the tasks that actually move us forward and get us closer to our goals. Introducing automation for some of these responsibilities can alleviate the burden, and enable you to accomplish your to-do with less stress.

Tools like Later for social media posts are a big help, as is surrounding yourself with a team and routine.

Tactic #4 – Delegate

Don’t Try To Do It All Yourself

DIY does not have to mean Do It (All) Yourself!  You must get some of the many things you need to do off of your plate so that you can have room for long-term planning and creative time. I can not stress this enough: You must learn to delegate and get the stuff that stresses you out (or the stuff that a super fan or a band member can handle) off of your plate.

Two things that may be stopping you from delegating:

1. You can’t afford to pay someone to help you (that’s what superfans can be amazing at!)
2. You don’t want to give up control.

Tactic #5 – Do

You Can’t Do Any Of This Till You Stop Procrastinating!

Are you a procrastinator? Many of us are and it’s always a work in progress to overcome.  Derek Sivers wrote up a great synopsis of a book called The Now Habit by Neil Fiore that will help you stop procrastinating now.

Get Ready to Build Your Plan… 

Now that you have your time under control why not use it to get your Long-Term Planning up to date?  Come Download this Checksheet and walk yourself through what you need to do…

Need more advice? Order Ariel’s latest book Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity for more helpful tips!

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