Kristin I., Illinois
I have a non-music related question regarding how you manage your own time in your businesses. I’m a new teacher, but also a mom of 3 with lots of other responsibilities (as I’m sure all of you have as well). I experience a significant amount of frustration in trying to figure out how to keep all the plates of starting/running a business spinning.
Today I had every intention of getting further into my PAS training, but spent most of the day “sidetracked” by working out how to advertise myself on Facebook more effectively, as well as answering emails, etc. This was not wasted time by any means, but it leaves me with a “unfinished business” kind of feeling on a pretty consistent basis!
I know that I am steep on the learning curve right now, since this is all brand new to me, and it will sort itself out over time. I guess what I’m wondering is – does anybody have some systems in place as far as scheduling time for all the different aspects of this business – time to play and improvise/compose, advertising, further training, bookkeeping, and anything else you might add to that list?
Ruth M., Washington
We have all done the same thing. I have spent countless hours on web presence, facebook etc. I have spent a bucket load of money on all kinds of advertising. My personal experience is that nothing has built my studio better than word of mouth. Personal referrals also have the advantage of people knowing that you have some requirements at your studio.
Be sure you devote enough time to you own study and development as a teacher. Great teachers draw great students. I had the advantage of already being “known” a bit in the area I teach, I had a few people waiting for me to start from my years with Kindermusik. Find your groupies – home schoolers Neighborhood kids? Church families? Rec Dept. Teach them really well, and word will spread. When I started , I had two groups of two. 2 years later I am full. This is my thought anyway, but I would love to hear others experiences. I just notice that advertising and FB can really suck my time away.
I turned the “ding” off on my email ( couldn’t resist checking when it rang). Now I have a dedicated time to do email ( with a limit)
Return phone calls ( I do not answer during the teaching day). A lot of people’s questions and problems ( including non SM related) are worked out by the time I can get to them. I do not let myself be constantly available to everyone.
Post a few things on FB ( maybe 2-3 times a week). I am still trying to iron out a routine for ensuring my page stays high on the search engine, but my webhost also helps with that.
I try to always remind myself. If my students are having a fabulous experience and great results, my studio will grow.
Nancy B., Kansas
I have not been teaching SM all that long, and I still feel like I am on a pretty good learning curve. It’s a wonderful journey, but I too have 3 kids and homeschool them, and juggling everything has been a huge thing for me, even though I only have 16 students, all in groups (and am not in the market for more at this point).
Like practicing for our students, I have found that thinking of the same time each day as my time to practice helps. Usually it’s after my kids get to bed, so by about 9pm, and even that doesn’t happen nearly as often as I’d like, but it’s nice to know that it’s sort of in place there.
I find that I need to spend several hours each Monday (I only teach Monday and Tuesday evenings) getting things I had hoped to get done the week prior, to be fully prepared for the teaching week- lesson planning, learning the new songs myself, etc. I like to try to learn from the workshops (or other media learning via SM) in the early mornings if I have a chance, before the day starts, while I exercise, etc, as I know lots of others have done.
I don’t do nearly enough on all the aspects I would like as often as I would like, but as many wise ones remind us, even with all the imperfections, we are still offering an incredible and a superior method, hands down! And when I think of what I had for my students when I taught traditionally, and how I spent virtually NO time preparing, and I compare that to the working-my-tail-off with the delightful and light-years-ahead efficient learning that ensues now, I know it will surely work itself out…sooner than later. 😉
While I don’t like to hear that it’s just general growing pains/learning curve, and different for each family, I guess that’s the reality of so much in life. For my family, I do take off teaching in summer and I think that will help me catch up (in theory!) or at least be rested enough to dive back in. I acknowledge to my students that it is NOT ideal (for many reasons) not to teach all year long, but for this season of my life, it is what I need to do.
A few weeks ago, I came across the Pomodoro technique. You may have heard of that–it can be found online, it’s simply a focused time of 25 minutes on one specific task, with a short (mindless) 5 minute break before diving back into the task at hand. There’s a lot to learn about it even though it’s simple (kind of like SM!), but it seems to be a very helpful technique for efficient use of time in the corporate world, and I am trying my best to apply it to my own task management. I think a Pomodoro-for-moms would be insightful, as they urge you to avoid interruptions at all costs (haha!) or at least become aware of what kind of interruptions you come across (internal or external) and establish strategies to minimize them. I have been working on a google spreadsheet today, of all my categories (home, school, piano, church, errands, household chores, you name it) and the tasks that are recurring, urgent, or just need to be done someday. From that list I will choose a few select tasks to focus on with the Pomodoro technique. Wish me luck.
I also try to remind myself of Robin’s wonderful wisdom through training–not to let myself go more than an hour on any one task before switching to something else. This is still a HUGE challenge for me and yet I’ve come to believe it’s a lynchpin, if you will, to being disciplined at juggling so very many things on one’s plate. Anyway, there’s so much wonderful wisdom here in the forums – I’m glad you asked your question–I’m looking forward to hearing from more folks about it too!
Oh! And lastly, I think we all need to have a “not-to-do” list… We all know that no one can “do it all” so—while I would really love to be better at gardening, for now, that is something I can put on my “NOT-to-do” list, for now, guilt-free, and embrace the things I HAVE chosen to do with joy. Mopping my floor each week, ahem, is also on that list…though it still gets mopped…eventually. 😉
Joy V., Texas
I teach part-time and wear many hats. I have found for me the best way to do it is compartmentalize my days. As a general rule, I work on piano on Mondays and Tuesdays with classes being taught starting at 4:15 p.m. On Wednesdays, I work as Pastor’s wife, church secretary and children’s teacher in the evening. On Thursdays, I work on things having to do with our rental properties. On Fridays, I clean the house and do the laundry. On Saturdays, I do my best to rest as that is my Sabbath. And on Sundays, it’s church and everything it involves all day.
Because my life is so busy, I am ALWAYS left with the feeling that I can never catch up — there’s always something else to do. But compartmentalizing my days helps me to consciously work on a specific thing for the specific day and “let go” of the rest until its corresponding day. Of course I’m always interrupted with kids’ needs or my husband changing my course or (just like you) facebook took more time than I thought it would. But if I get an email regarding piano, I let it sit until Monday. If I think of something that needs to be done about church, I send myself an email to remind me to do it on Wednesday, etc. And if I see something that needs to be done in the house, I know I have a day scheduled to deal with that.
Sue C., Austrailia
We will always be managing time. I am now a hands on grandparent which means a lot more time is taken but I should say at the same time given to me to love and nurture.
Whatever you do will open a different door. Because of my renewed contact with the very young, I was game enough to take on PAS and start my first group this week. PAS will give me the option to work in the day time in the years ahead should I find that suits me.
We can only take one step at a time and after a while you will look back and see how far you’ve come even with all the frustrations along the way.
With SM you will find it is interesting and refreshing for years to come as when you think you ‘know it all’ a new program will be released, like rain on a summer day. Just work on the basics and all the rest will follow.
Giving ourselves time is so important as we need to keep going strong to help everyone else do the same.