We make plans to prevent chaos, increase efficiency, and see better results. As musicians, we need as much help as we can to create consistency in our busy schedules and to boost the productivity that we are so often struggling to generate on our own. So, why not make a daily success plan?
You may have thought that you only need a plan when you're mapping out travel logistics for your next tour, or when you're coordinating who's bringing what dish to the next family holiday gathering, or when you're scheduling anything from a rehearsal to a record release.
You can read this article, "A Day in the Life of a Music Maker." It's an excellent article that breaks down what one musicians day typically looks like.
But what there really is to put in place is what happens before the day even begins – the night before and right you are going to do when waking up.
The night before
Break out your calendar and just double-check that you have everything scheduled for tomorrow that you need to get done. Ideally, once a week – most likely on a Sunday night – can be a good time to schedule a whole week with the intention of being in a new place the following week.
That means taking those to-do lists and putting them into reality – i.e., in your schedule – so that they get done. And then having 100 percent integrity with your calendar and doing what it's telling you to do! If you have extra space, fill it with something that will help center you, (like a walk, a call to your mom, or a little extra creative writing time).
Acknowledge what you accomplished in the day. Whether you finally finished writing /recording that song or you drafted an email to a publishing company you've been wanting to pitch, or you didn't order that new parcel of guitar strings. However big or small you may think your accomplishments are, write them down or focus intently on them.
Trippy Mental Stuff (that really works)
Right before falling asleep, ask your subconscious to help you to solve a problem while you sleep. (This is a bizarre thing, but it can help keep your week more balanced). Don't dwell on a problem; just give it up and stay open to having clarity around it in the morning.
The subconscious mind is a powerful thing, that most people will barely use to a greater extent. But, believe me, asking things of your subconscious is precisely how scientists solve their complex problems.
I read that the lab technicians in charge of developing the placement of holograms on credit-cards could not figure out how to get the hologram onto the card. So, the lead technician went to sleep one night and asked this question of his sub-conscious, "If we did have a machine that could put a hologram on a credit-card, what would it look like."
Within a week they were able to build a machine to do it.
In the morning
Upon waking up, when still in bed, think of a few things you are extremely grateful for while drinking a glass of water. Now, this gratitude stuff is a little hippy dippy, but give the universe some positive reinforcement (we all need it, right?) on what's been working for you.
Another reason why it is good to wake up with gratitude is to get really present to the things we enjoy the most and love to do. You will truly see a difference in your day if you start out by thinking about those things – it's like inviting them back in and giving space for them to show up again.
This is the part of the morning everyone does differently – the part where you connect your mind to your body. This may mean a hardcore workout, a 10-minute meditation, or a yoga class. For some of us older guitar players, it's a few lower back exercises and perhaps even a swim in the pool. But for you, it can be whatever exercise that you can do consistently. Follow it up with a healthy breakfast as well.
Think about what problems you can solve today
Do you have any clarity around the problem that you gave up to your subconscious last night? Look at your to-do lists and figure out what it is you really need to do in order to move forward. What's the one thing you are dreading doing? Start with that.
When you complete that dreaded task (a friend of mine calls it the "frog" task), give yourself some reward, whether a cup of coffee, a 10-minute play session with your pet, or a walk around the block to clear your mind.
This is very much a rinse-and-repeat process. Find out what works for you. Start to build positive habits through repetition. And did you notice that "check Facebook," "respond to every email," and "press the snooze button" were not included in this list?
There are reasons for excluding those. And by this point, I'm sure you know what they are. So stick to your guns. You deserve having a really productive day, and you're the one who gets to say how that goes!