Raise your hand if you’ve seen about a bazillion posts, articles, and stories telling you this is the time to be your most productive self.
And now raise your hand if you’ve also heard that this is not the time to be productive but rather to indulge in all the self-care and simply kick back and let whatever happens happen?
If we were in a room together right now, I have a feeling I’d be seeing a lot of you raising both your hands. Because the truth is, we’ve been getting a lot of conflicting information lately—and both of it is right.
First, there is no perfect one-size-fits-all solution. But I do believe that we absolutely need both to not only make the best of this time, but to simply survive.
So when you’re feeling stuck between trying to get things done and trying to be mindful of taking care of yourself, where do you even begin?
Be honest with yourself
First, I need you to be brutally honest with yourself.
A lot of us are going to slip into excuse mode here and there. And look, I get it, it’s natural. Things are even scarier than normal and that can make us want to hide under the bed, and invent all kinds of excuses for why things aren’t going our way. But that’s where you have to be careful, because what I don’t want is for you to use fear as an excuse not to build the life you want.
For instance, I’ve seen a lot of bands say they’re not getting a lot of social media engagement because no one is engaging because it’s a pandemic and so they’re just hitting pause on everything until it gets better. That’s ridiculous, and it’s an excuse. Now, if that band had said “we’re not posting because we’re exhausted from stress and need a social media detox” I’d say “ok, I respect that. You do you” But to pretend no one is paying attention (in a time when EVERYONE is online ALL the time and looking for leadership and connection) is a total cop-out and an excuse to just not do the thing you think is hard.
I know, it sounds harsh. But you’ve gotta be honest with yourself if this is going to work. And that means, owning it when you need a break, owning it when you just aren’t feeling up to the task, but not making excuses for why you’re not seeing the results you want. If something isn’t working, find a different way, and try, try again until it does. Or, don’t. But let’s not do the excuses thing, ok?
You owe it to yourself and your fans to be honest—because you both are the ones hurting from it if you aren’t.
Respect the balance
That said, of course we need to make adjustments right now. To our self-care, to our strategies, to our day-to-day. It would be insane not to acknowledge that. But, one of the toughest things right now is knowing how to really strike a balance between the two extremes of becoming a work-a-holic and becoming a part of your couch. The truth here is a simple one—you have to listen to your gut. I know, it sounds like a cop-out but hear me on this—deep down, you know what you’re capable of and you know what your mind and body need way more than I do. So, if you wake up one day and you feel like you’re on fire to get everything on your to-do list done, go for it. There is no shame in that. Don’t feel bad because you felt productive and you acted on it.
But if the next day you wake up kind of drained, a little sluggish, and you end up binging an entire series in a day, don’t feel bad about that either. This is a difficult time and our bodies and minds are going to react in weird ways. Honestly, I go through those things sometimes on the same day, so I get it.
But again, know and respect the balance here. Having a day or two of intense work or major rest and relaxation is great. But if you find that you’re working 80 hours a week suddenly, or haven’t moved from the couch in 2 weeks, it might be time to start incorporating the two to create a more balanced lifestyle. You want to respect how you’re feeling and what your body needs, while still being aware of the effect each has on your mental health.
Too much ignoring what’s going on and getting lost in work can lead to build-up of fear, anxiety, and frustration that causes issues down the line, while too much lack of (exercise/mental stimulation/fun) can lead to depression.
Be aware, and mind the balance.
Have a plan
A good plan is what sets apart the dreamers from the doers. And in uncertain times especially, having a plan of what we want our life to look like—be it the day to day or a year from now—is a crucial part of moving forward. Simply put, we need things to look forward to.
So the first thing I want you to do is to create a plan for your days. Don’t overwhelm yourself here—there are likely going to be days you get up and the plan is just “make breakfast, watch TV, shower, answer emails.” and that’s ok. But, minding what we talked about above, you want to also have a plan for days you’re actually being productive. Getting up each morning and time blocking what you want the day to look like is an incredibly helpful way to make sure you’re staying on track, getting things done, and not succumbing to distractions. (which let’s be honest, is so easy to do right now!)
So for instance, if you know that one of the major things you want to focus on over the next two months is building your social media engagement, you might wake up knowing that today is the day you schedule a month’s worth of social media content. So maybe the day looks like:
9:30-10am: Listen to podcast
10-11am: brainstorm month of social media topics
11-2pm: Schedule out a month’s worth of posts
And so on…
Be sure to schedule in breaks, showers, exercise etc—you’d be surprised how much that stuff adds up (and how much little breaks can help with your mood and productivity)
Don’t forget to take care of yourself
More than anything, be kind to yourself. Schedule in-home spa days, paint your nails, practice your favorite hobbies, and FaceTime with loved ones. A little self-care goes a long way here.
In the end, we’re all doing what we have to in order to get through this. That doesn’t always make sense, and we can’t always place logic in it, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t valid. So take care of yourself, be kind to yourself, and know that we’re all in this together.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more as well as the THRIVE mentorship community—an online community that provides indie artists with affordable year-round mentoring from music industry experts, and much more. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer. Join her for her free training How to Get Your Next 1,000 Fans.