Even musicians need the occasional hiatus

It’s been a while since I’ve published anything on this blog and uploaded anything to the site, and there is good reason for that. Not only did I have a health scare back at the start of 2021, but I found myself struggling creatively to produce new content that was usable and satisfying my creative desires.

Career vs wellbeing, it doesn’t have to be one or the other

Balancing career and wellbeing is something that is rarely talked about in the world of music as the focus is often on the glamour and opportunities in the industry. There are great organisations like Mind in the UK who highlight how musicians are three times more likely to suffer from depression and have guides for musicians who are struggling, however, the advice around is often on how to get better when you’re in a rut rather than get the balance of work and wellbeing right in the first place.

Two years ago, like many I expect, I was pushing myself too much with work and when the pandemic started I began to wind things down for Instrumental Background Music to focus on other things like family, avoiding Covid-19 and if finding sustainable ways to be productive while also staying healthy.

Some of these are obvious, but I focused on things like:

  • Practising writing new styles of music
  • Building new relationships with filmmakers
  • Creating a catalogue of music for other libraries to diversify my income streams
  • Eating healthy (cutting down on meat and upping vegetables mainly)
  • Exercising regularly (in my case, it was as simple as going for a 30-40m walk with bursts of running)
  • Sleeping more (hard with kids, but possible)
  • Collaborating with other musicians by hiring in session musicians (this has made a BIG difference to the quality of my music and reduced the workload considerably)

Redefining how you want your work life

Now, you might be wondering where the ‘hiatus’ part of this existence is and it’s that I defined specific times that were off limits for music but still allowed me to do the points above. By strictly sticking to a weekly schedule, I was able to rest and recharge while offloading some of the harder parts of music production to session musicians and pass on the time-consuming admin of running a business to people like an accountant and book keeper.

Instead of trying to do everything myself, I redefined how I want work life to work for me and it’s been fundamental in giving me the space to not only identify how to write better production music, but also develop a refined vision of where I want Instrumental Background Music to go. It’s given me more time with my family while maintaining high productivity.

Improving productivity without sacrificing your health

Here are some things you can try if you’re struggling to free up time to stay healthy while also being productive:

  • Hire in session musicians like this incredible guitarist on Fiverr or this amazing double bass player (yes, I’ve used both of them and they’re fantastic) to improve the quality of your music while easing the time-consuming process of writing parts that sound good using virtual instruments
  • Build a separate passive income stream from something totally unrelated to music. There are of course also passive income streams possible via music such as selling merch, production music, Patreon earnings and even NFT’s, but selling digital products that scale like ebooks and video courses or even making traditional investments should be part of your way of freeing up your time.
  • Journal. Daily. Sounds stupidly simple, but it’s stupidly powerful too. It focuses your mind on what’s important vs what is noise which in turn increases your productivity and helps your mental health as well.
  • Offload time-consuming stuff like tax affairs to others and trim down non-essential daily chores. There are cheap options available via freelancing sites like Fiverr to help with everything from content production for marketing purposes through to book keeping. As a minimum, get a good accountant.

Hope you found this post useful!

Cato

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