More and more recently, I find myself having discussions about time — How quickly it goes, how little we seem to have, and how nobody seems to respect other people’s time anymore. In our industry, everyone is their own business owner. And as such, I have found that we all (myself included) often have a tendency to focus on our own needs before the needs of others when it comes to scheduling. We cancel at the last min, we make false excuses, we “forget to send the email,” our phone dies, we choose to stay in, we allow ourselves to believe that it’s not a big deal to leave someone else hanging, and we simply don’t show up for each other. We forget, that in a consultant based industry, where very few people are employed by a company on a full-time salary, every hour counts.
Every hour is an opportunity to earn money, meet with someone who could change the trajectory of your life, show up for an appointment that will further your career, or is simply a moment to recharge when you truly need it. When we cancel, show up late, or make excuses, we are ignoring the possibilities of our future and losing valuable and meaningful possible relationships. There is no official ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule in the arts — but unofficially, it reigns supreme.
So, I wanted to create a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to scheduling your life as a professional artist. How do we create a timeline that works, is flexible, and still allows us to maintain personal and professional relationships without straining them? Some of these things have worked for me — though I am 100% not perfect at any of this! — so, I wanted to share them with you all and hopefully get us all on a little bit more respectful path.
DON’T MAKE FALSE EXCUSES
It never ceases to amaze me how many cancellation emails I get at the top of a day of appointments. I get so many, that as a rule, I now double book every other appointment to ensure that my creative teams have a full day. These cancellations are due to many things, some of which I know are truly devastating, and some of which, read very clearly as self-sabotage. Both break my heart.
When we lie to other people about why we aren’t showing up, A: they usually know and B: it means we are hiding the truth about why we can’t be there. Are you scared? Are you unprepared? Are you wanting to be somewhere else? Are you no longer interested in a person or project? WHY DON’T WE JUST TELL THE TRUTH? It makes everything so much easier when we are share what we know introspectively. Only then can we breakthrough excuse making and get to the good stuff. The stuff where we show up for our lives and succeed.
THE 48 HOUR RULE
Do not cancel a dinner, show, appointment, date night, catch-up, meeting, etc. within a 48 hour window if at all possible. When we get down to two days before an event, that person has made sure to carve out time FOR YOU. They want to see you for one reason or another. That means, they have given up work, turned down another person, or have sacrificed their own personal time to ensure that they have left time open FOR YOU. And when you cancel that close to the meeting, they often cannot find someone else to fill that time. That means that YOU have lost them potential revenue or human connection. So unless you are willing to pay them their hourly rate, find a way to be there. Honor the importance of their time by showing up.
SET STANDARDS YOU CAN MAINTAIN
If you know you are the kind of person who cannot respond to an email within an hour, do not establish that as your standard when you first begin working with a person. Be upfront and honest with the people in your life. If you hate texting, tell people that that is not the mode of communication you like best. If it takes you a solid 24 hours to respond to a voicemail, tell people you prefer to email. If DMing on Instagram is your chosen mode of communication — TELL PEOPLE. We are not mind readers, but we do deserve to know what your standard method of communication is and how long we should expect to wait before we hear from you. If we communicate about these things, then we can establish and maintain healthy boundaries and means of understanding. It also means, people know when to tell you something is important and needs immediate response.
LEAVE EARLIER THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED TO
This one is simple. The MTA is horrific. Leave at least thirty mins earlier than you think you do. There will always be a coffee shop or bar on every corner. You can fill the time if you are too early. Just do it. You will be so glad you did.
BE A GROWN UP AND OWN UP
We all know that feeling when we get an email about something that we don’t want to do and we don’t want to respond to it. So we just ignore it. If we don’t look at it, it doesn’t exist right? WRONG. Just because it doesn’t exist for you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist for the person who sent it. They are waiting FOR YOU TO RESPOND. Even if it is hard. Even if it is painful, you must hit send. You must tell them the truth — or a lovely version of the truth. Because the longer you wait, the more anxiety you are putting on yourself and the other person. Often, that person doesn’t even know how anxious they are making you. It’s not fair to them to keep them waiting — especially if it is about their business. Just tell them the truth. Be a grown up and own up to whatever is making you ignore your inbox. You know the other person knows something is wrong — so don’t ignore your feelings. Share them.
ALWAYS OFFER ANOTHER OPTION
If you must cancel an appointment with another person, always offer several other options of when you might be available to reschedule. It makes the other person feel valued and enables them to have some sort of power in a situation where they feel let down. However, if you offer the time — HOLD IT until they get back to you. There is nothing worse than saying you are free and having the person get back to you, only to have you respond that you are now busy. My rule of thumb, hold the time for 48 hours. If they have not responded, you should feel free to release it to other opportunities.
HONOR GROUP TIME
Scheduling a group of adult people is IMPOSSIBLE. It is truly like herding cats. As a person who loves group activities and also schedules full days of appointments all the time, let me tell you — it is literally a challenge that not all are up for. However, if you agree to show up for a group activity, you really need to show up. Especially if it is for an activity that cannot be done without a full group. Letting down a group of people who have chosen to spend time with you is creates a shift in the group dynamic that often times cannot be shaken. If you can show up, show up. These people must mean something to you if you agreed in the first place so really try to honor that initial instinct.
TRACK YOUR TARDINESS AND UNDERSTAND IT
When you need to say no, you need to say no. Honor yourself and know that sometimes, it is better for everyone if you don’t show up. When that happens, write it down. Track you tardiness and cancellations. See if there is a pattern. Are there days that really don’t work for you? Are mornings hard? Do late nights make you stressed out? Find the patterns and then make sure that you are scheduling yourself in a way that works best for you from the start. You can only learn from you patterns and habits, if you take the time to establish what they are.
Did I forget anything? Let me know in the comments below! I love hearing from you guys!