When was the last time you complained about not having enough time for something?
Maybe you walked in to a rehearsal and said, “I’m sorry guys, I just didn’t have enough time to practice this part…”
Or you explained to your friend that your exam didn’t go well because you didn’t have enough time to study.
Who hasn’t lamented not having enough time to sleep? (I know I have…)
We all complain about time – especially not having enough of it.
But you can’t “have” time.
Until someone creates a time machine, we’re all stuck living in the present moment. Which means that the only time you “have” is the moment you’re living in right now.
So, how you “spend” your time is just a matter of deciding how to act in the present moment.
The best part is, no matter what you want to do with your life, you have as much time as you need. All you must do is decide what’s truly important to you. Once you know what is most important to you, take action to achieve your goals…whether that means practicing, sitting down to eat a nutritious meal, or getting some sleep.
If something is important…
You prioritize it in your life.
Every day, you wake up knowing exactly what you need to accomplish before you let any distracting activities take your attention. Your focus and determination keep you on track throughout the day.
That’s not how things actually work (for most of us).
Unfortunately, we all get stuck doing things that don’t align with our goals. It’s easy to accidentally commit to a project that takes time away from more “important” activities. How many musicians do you know who do so many gigs that they never have time to practice their own solo repertoire?
How often do you look at your schedule and nearly have a heart attack, wondering who the insane person was who said “yes” to all these projects?
You convince yourself that you’ll never make the mistake of over-committing again. But then, months later, you find yourself back in the same over-committed position.
It can be devastatingly difficult to quit doing things that distract us from what’s truly important.
Difficult, but not impossible.
Starting today, there are almost certainly a few things in your life that you can quit doing that would open up time for the things that you value most.
Finding Time to Practice
From beginner Suzuki violinists to highly-successful professional orchestra members, everyone complains: “I don’t have enough time to practice!”
Of course, it can be difficult to fit practicing into a busy schedule. Especially if you also teach, go to school, perform in multiple groups, and/or like to have a social life.
But what most musicians are really saying when they complain about practice time is: “Practice isn’t as important to me as other things.”
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
We all must choose how to act in the present moment. Nobody needs to practice 24/7.
It’s simply a matter of deciding how to prioritize practice in your life.
Consider these two examples:
If you have a recital coming up in 2 weeks, would it be more useful to practice another hour or to watch another episode of Breaking Bad?
If your next big audition is 6 months away and you feel burnt out, would it be more useful to force yourself to practice for 4-5 hours or would it be more beneficial to find some balance by going for a walk, spending time with friends, practicing yoga, or working on another project?
Even with these seemingly obvious examples, there is no 100% “right” way to act. Each of us must make the best decision for ourselves in the present moment.
You have the freedom to choose. When you realize that you just need to re-prioritize and you can create all the time you need, things get surprisingly simple.
If practicing is the most important thing, then do that. If something else is more important, then no worries. But acknowledge that your decision was made based on your priorities, not because you “didn’t have enough time.”
When Your Schedule Is *Totally* Full
I’m a huge fan of having a detailed schedule. I love having my hand in numerous projects at once.
But all too often, I fall into the trap of thinking that my schedule is a rigid, unchangeable thing. I start thinking that once I put something in my calendar, I cannot change it — it becomes a kind of immovable force.
This creates problems when I realize that I need to re-prioritize and re-schedule. I feel stuck, committed to my original plan. Other times, I won’t make schedule changes because of professional commitments that I’d feel uncomfortable breaking.
Either way, I remind myself that I have a choice: in the present moment, I have the power to decide if I want to keep my schedule the way it is or make a change.
You have this power, too. If your schedule is too full, you can change it. You don’t have to suffer through sleepless nights and 16 hour works days.
That said, dealing with an overly-full schedule can be challenging — especially when you’re balancing numerous high-importance, high-stress activities.
I created a worksheet to help, featuring an exercise I starting using a while back.
Get your free worksheet here:
It’s simple but powerful. I’ve used this exercise over the years to clarify what’s most important to me. Use it to discover how you can prioritize in a way that allows you to be more efficient in the present moment.
Each day, you can choose what priorities are most important to you. All you have to do is create the time you need.
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