It’s quite common to hear, “I’ve been so busy, I need a vacation!” or, “Things are so busy around here, I suppose I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” The music industry is one of the last industries to embrace the self-care movement. Corporate titans like Arianna Huffington and Mark Cuban, along with celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, have begun speaking up loudly about the importance of prioritizing time outside of work and working smarter, not harder.
All too often, musicians work ’round the clock in an attempt to prove to others how much they “want it.” However, the “24/7 grind” is nothing more than people staying busy, regardless of how much work is actually getting done. After all, when you’re on your second all-nighter, how much is truly getting accomplished?
There are endless reasons it doesn’t pay to be busy and why it’s so important to slow down in order to get where you’re going. In fact, I recently pointed out three reasons you should slow down and regularly reflect on your music career. But, in an effort to save you even more time, below are the three most important reasons it literally doesn’t pay to be busy.
1. Filling up your day depletes your energy
Okay, this sounds pretty common sense. If you’re busy from sunrise to sunset, your energy will be pretty low, but it’s important to realize how much depleting your energy truly costs you.
According to a study on sleep deprivation, 17-19 hours without sleep is the equivalent to working with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .05. That leaves, at most, seven hours for sleep. At best, most of us are running around on four-to-five hours of sleep. That’s closer to operating on a BAC level of .08, which is legal intoxication.
How often have you sent an email to a venue with your templated material still in it (i.e. “Dear [venue]”), sent the wrong material to the wrong person, missed a deadline, or ran late to a soundcheck? Ignoring your body’s need for sleep is not helping your career, it’s hurting it.
2. You’re ignoring your priorities
When you have less time to do work, your priorities will magically appear. When you give yourself more time to work, your instinct is to put more on your plate. That leads to “busy work,” which hardly ever leads to anything productive.
For instance, if you give yourself only 20 minutes to send out emails to venues to book a show, you’re not going to spam every venue on the list, you’re going to make those emails count, right? You’ll be more likely to contact the venues that are relevant to you and your music.
If you tell yourself you’re not going to sleep until you’ve emailed every venue on the list, you’re not only depleting your energy, but you’re sending out emails to an entire set of venues that are most likely irrelevant to your cause. You’re so focused on being busy, however, that that fact never enters into the equation.
3. You’re making poor decisions
Being busy leads to being stressed, especially when all of that busy work doesn’t lead to any real, tangible results. The harder we work and the less we have to show for it, the more stressed we become.
When you operate under stress, you become more reactive than proactive. When it comes to committing to shows, coordinating recording sessions, planning social media, or sending out important emails, high levels of stress can cause you to react to whatever is going on in the moment, rather than look at how a particular decision is affecting your larger, long-term plan.
Slowing down feels wrong. I get it. If people see you turning in early rather than burning the midnight oil, how will they know how badly you want it? But consider this: How will other people’s thoughts of you get you where you’re going? Thoughts don’t get us anywhere, actions do.
Slow down and focus on work that matters, work that will get you where you want to be. If someone tries to shame you for getting a full eight hours of sleep when they only got three, simply say, “Yeah, thanks, I feel ready to take on the day!” And then take on that day like your career depends on it.