A Guide For The Unorganised Musician

How to stay organised in a musicians' world.

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DISCLAIMER: This piece is not for those who have developed their own methods to the madness. This is not for the ones that have been doing this successfully for years. This is for the ones that struggle with keeping up with everything. This is for those who cannot help but feel overwhelmed by the chaos and/or have had an increase in responsibilities. This is for the ones that can’t help but feel their stress levels rising as their calendar fills up. I got you.

In the following paragraphs, I will be laying out some practical tips that could make your life and career a bit easier and give it some structure and (possibly) needed organisation.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

1. Have a planner or use your phone calendar.

I have both and I use both for one simple reason: when I am on the phone, I write whatever necessary into the planner and then transfer it to my phone calendar. This way, I have it already saved in two different places and because I made a note of an appointment twice, I am less likely to forget about it.

Whether you’re using one or the other (or both) you can use different fonts/colours to differentiate between various activities such as practice, interviews, meetings, gigs, streams, releases, etc. If you’re in multiple bands or if you collaborate with different venues, this might be of help too. This works if you’re a busy human with various interests as well, I’m certain you’ll be able to apply it to any area in your life.

Having things written down or saved on your phone allows you to free up some brain space and focus more on your creative work, you don’t have to worry about forgetting an event and you’ll be able to tell when you’re available quicker just by having a glance at your schedule – tell me why you shouldn’t do it, I’m listening.

 

2. Save more than their name.

Write down where and when you met them, what or who they’re associated with, just about anything that will help you remember them.

If I’m saving someone’s contact, I like to put as much additional information as needed in order to remember the person.
Scenario: I saved a number under the name Steve on my phone. Steve is a person I have just met. If Steve calls after five months, I will definitely not remember who Steve is if we haven’t been in touch since. If I save his number under ‘Steve OT Radio Station’ I am more likely to remember who the heck Steve is. If you’re as devoted as I (sometimes) am, you can even leave a note of when and where you met them.

I like doing this for two reasons: I am more likely to know what services the person contacting me might need and it leaves a better impression when you know who the person you’re talking to is (and you can throw in some of those cliche networking questions that relate back to your last conversation).

3. Make a stock list of your equipment.

This is especially important if your equipment travels. Everything from cables to amps, to records you’re taking to gigs, take note of it in some form.

It’s easier to organise for any event and you’re less likely to leave anything behind if you know what you brought in the first place.

If you lend your equipment, I’d recommend having a list of what, who and when someone borrows something, it can be harder to get it back than you imagine.

If you’re dealing with vinyl, it might be handy to just take pictures and know the amount of records you brought with you to a gig so at the end of the night you don’t have to worry too much about leaving any behind. The reason I say take pictures is that album covers are much more memorable than a written or typed list of albums, visuals win in this case. And clubs/pubs are usually not the best lit places so a list might not be as easy to see. Lists are also not as easy to read after a few pints.

 

4. Prepare the night before.

At least have an idea of what needs to be done. Visualise it the evening before. The setting up, the tests, the extra bits that you might need in case something goes wrong. You might think of things you should do or bring with you just in case. No such thing as being overprepared.

 

5. Schedule-in creative time.

I spoke about this in my last post ‘13 Ways to Combat Writers’ Block’ and as uninspiring as it might sound, it will programme your brain into knowing a certain time of day/week is when it’s time to express itself creatively.

 

6. Get someone to help you.

If you’re not a big social media person and get easily overwhelmed by the thought of going through emails and DMs, get someone to help you. See if you can sit down with a friend so they could help you write down everything that needs to be done. They could also be your accountability buddy – someone who makes sure everything on that list has been done and ticked off. You can also categorise those tasks by priority and urgency – it helps eliminate the stress of having numerous tasks once you have them correctly organised and put into perspective.

 

7. Over-communicate rather than under-communicate.

Not communicating effectively and efficiently can cause major issues. Making sure everything is clear and properly understood can solve problems even before they occur. So don’t hesitate to send that extra message into a group chat or to an individual confirming the time, place and date or making sure it’s the third version everyone likes more and not the second one (or just about anything).

There is plenty more I could add but I think we’ll stop there for now. I hope you take away a few useful tips with you and I hope this does help you stay on track.
Until next time.

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