Workplace wellness

Time Management for Music-Makers

Posted by Cassandra Popescu on July 12, 2019

Working as a music professional is no easy feat. Being in a creative field means your schedule is constantly packed –– especially this time of year. The to-do list is overwhelming, and prioritizing even the simplest of tasks can feel daunting.


When you’re focusing on your art or trying to build your business, smaller tasks and acts of self-care easily fall through the cracks. We have some tips for how you can turn the stress into productivity without sacrificing your well-being.


Be Realistic About Your To-Do List

It’s key to be realistic about what you can complete in a day. Remember that tasks will usually take longer than expected. The next time you need to accomplish a series of tasks, be mindful of your workflow. Track each activity with a stopwatch on your phone, so you can understand  how much time repetitive tasks take, and better plan ahead when creating your to-do list. This will allow you to spread out tasks that take a little longer, figure out when you need to schedule breaks, and avoid burn out in the future.



Let’s face it, there will be days when the to-do list piles up no matter how much you’ve pre-planned. When it starts to feel overwhelming, start by picking three high priority tasks. This will then help you map out a game plan and feel in control of the work you need to complete, instead of the work controlling you. Once you’ve identified your 3 priorities, try to focus on those specific tasks before allowing your mind to wander to the next ones.


Colour Code Your Calendar

Whatever calendar app you use to schedule your time, creating a colour coding system will allow you to better understand where your priorities lie throughout the week. You can assign specific colours to certain tasks, and flag ones that are more time-sensitive or require more effort. This will also allow you to visually see where you’re spending your time, and to adjust your schedule if necessary.


Plan for Recovery Time

You’re not superhuman, so remember you’re going to need time to recover from difficult jobs. Perhaps you were at a festival all weekend, or you’re working a particularly late gig one night of the week. When gigs disrupt your typical schedule, you can’t expect your body to bounce back into a work routine. Ideally, you should take the next day off to allow some time for self-care, but this isn’t always realistic. Practice prioritizing by only putting urgent tasks on your to-do list for the day after a huge gig.


Make Your Breaks Productive

Making your breaks productive might seem counterintuitive, but hear me out. Most of us spend a large amount of time staring at screens, and when we take breaks we often gravitate towards the pull of social media to continue staring at screens. But what if you could take your break time to do something more fulfilling? Try reading a book while you eat your lunch, or taking a walk while you sip some coffee. Maybe you can even get a short meditation session in mid-day. Using your break time on activities that will actually energize your mind and body will keep you sharp for when you need to get back to work.


If you’re struggling to find a work-life balance, or are feeling the negative affects of stress, Unison’s Counselling & Health Solutions provides free counselling to the Canadian music community. Register with Unison today and call 1-855-9UNISON to receive assistance.