by Cari Cole

Musicians know it’s an eight day a week job, one that is never done if you’re doing it right. But that right there is a prescription for disaster. No friends, no life, and even possibly, no career.

It’s all about balance, planning, strategizing, setting goals and setting and resetting priorities.

Here are my top 6 pretty-darn-close-to-magical steps to painless time management that have radically improved my career and life as a result of holding to them. I hope it helps you stop spinning your wheels and start being more effective with your music business this year. Big changes can come for you when you apply this simple formula.


1. Braindump

The first thing to consider if you are in overwhelm is that there may be too many things rolling around in your brain. Time for a braindump! Arrange for some time to dump everything you’ve got in your head down on paper or in a document (even notes on your phone). This process gives your brain more room because it gets it down on paper. You’ll feel more relief.


2. The To Do List

Now take that braindump and format it into a to do list. You can categorize your to do list into compartments like: artist development – songwriting, vocal technique, etc.; marketing + promotion – social media, website, bio, press release, promo photos, videos, etc.; business – opportunities, conferences, festivals, goal setting, strategy, etc.


3. Prioritize 

Now that you have the to do list it’s time to put that list in order of importance. Introducing the power of prioritizing. Whether you are a busy person or not, you won’t want to give the same attention to every item on your to do list. To avoid that, prioritize. Put the absolute must do’s at the top. Be sure to rate the top items on your to do list by what will move you ahead or give you a ROI (return on investment). A great way to keep re-organizing the priorities is to sit down every Sunday (or the day prior to your week’s start) for 45 minutes and prioritize the week ahead. A great way to keep yourself powerful.


4. Organize the Schedule (by year, or quarter)

While there are a lot of things you would love to do, if you can’t see the whole year ahead at a time, you’re not preparing properly. Stop getting bitten in the butt last minute and get ahead of the curve by planning out your year ahead of time. Make a calendar with all the festivals, songwriting contests, release dates, marketing campaigns and music events like conferences on the calendar ahead of time. Then dive deeper into each quarter and get all of your concerts, event dates, etc., on the calendar. Bam. Here at Team Cole we live by our pre-planning! It feels SO good.


5. Live the Calendar

Harvard Business Review came out with the results of a study on time management a few years ago that basically said the “to do list” is dead. The trick to being more productive is actually putting your to do list (in order of importance) in your calendar and slotting the time for each task on a daily-weekly-monthly-yearly basis.

This task has made all the difference in mastering my time, my schedule and took me out of guessing how much time something took into being able to better project the time per task. The result of this small tweak allows me to make better decisions that bring more profit to my company, more satisfaction to my clients and more business growth. Try it, you’ll never look back.


6. Use a Project Management Software

One of the things I tell artists all the time, is stop looking for a manager and hire an assistant – a really good one. The first step to running your business well is delegating tasks (first knowing what they are and how much time they take). The best way to do that is to plug all of your to do’s into a project management software. Me and Team Cole are addicts of Asana. It allows us to track all of our projects, emails related to those projects, due dates and calendars in one glance = love. Do it.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!



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