Being an independent artist, I know a thing or two about keeping up motivation and squandering time. I’m good at both; I’m a Pisces. Especially during the winter months when I am a full time musician and have to only answer to myself.

I don’t like following schedules, I don’t like to do lists, and I don’t like alarm clocks. I have enough of that at the seasonal day job. But if I want to get anything done other than writing and drinking coffee all day, I have to set some boundaries. Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated. Sometimes I have to play mind games with myself.

And as I go back to the day job for these next 7 months, these tips come more into play believe me, the last thing I want do after a full day of work is work, but…
I’m sure you can relate. Whatever you’re trying to do, whether it’s a good solid goal or if you just want to get through a week at a time of your busy busy life sometimes a little perspective can turn things around.

So I’m sharing with you my 7 best tips for those days you can’t kick your ass into action.

1. NON-NEGOTIABLES: What things must I do that are vital for me to reach my goals? I make sure that even if I’m still doing them at 10 at night that they get done. For me that’s vocal practice, songwriting, meditation, exercise and guitar practice. These come before dishes or laundry. Non-negotiables are important to my well-being and my career. Dishes, not so much.

2. CHOOSE ONE THING AND MULTITASK IT: If I’m having a bad day, I’ll pick one thing that really makes me feel good and I’ll do that. Usually it involves a guitar and lots of distortion (writing and guitar=multitasking) or just hopping on my bike and going for a ride on a sunny day (exercising and filling the creative well=multitasking). Even if it’s the only thing I do that day, at least I’m doing something.

3. BARGAINING: Some days I just don’t wanna get on the bike. So I make myself a deal. I only allow myself to watch my favourite music dvd’s when I’m on the bike (indoors in winter only). If that doesn’t motivate me in itself, I say: I’ll do 30 minutes. Usually I end up doing an hour but if I don’t, I’ve still held up my end of the bargain with myself. Win win. This also works when I just don’t wanna practice my guitar. I’ll tell myself I’ll just do scales. Once I start, it usually leads into working on a song, or rehearsing.

4. TIME to FOCUS: When it comes to writing, I can find all kinds of distractions (those dishes come back to haunt me), especially if I don’t feel particularly inspired or am stuck on a song. So I’ll set a timer. I set it for 30 minutes at a time; I don’t know what it is about the timer, but I focus much better and Musey doesn’t get too restless.

5. BREAK THE BIG PICTURE: I break my end goal into smaller goals. Example: I am writing a new album. I need lots of songs for that new album. So, I’ve set a goal to write a song a week. If I want to go into the studio in November, that’s about 48 songs a week in a year. (I’m a musician, not a mathematician.)

6. BE A REBEL: Rebel against yourself. I’ll try to talk myself out of doing something because I don’t feel inspired, or I’m frustrated so I just power it through and do it anyway. Usually by the time my illogical/logical mind clues on to what I’m doing, I’m halfway through the task that I would usually spend that much time trying to talk myself out of. Hey, I never said it was simple.

7. IMPERFECT ACTION. Take a deep breath, let it out, close your eyes and repeat 3 times: Imperfect action is better than no action at all. Life happens; a meeting, or a conference call, or the dog is chewing her blankie cause she has been ignored all day, I get off track; I forget to do my vocals one day, or (insert excuse here). I try not to beat myself up about it. I don’t abandon the goals or tasks. I continue on the next day, because consistency is key.

Only quitters fail, and I’m no quitter.