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How To Stay Organised For The Naturally Scatterbrained
It’s that time of year when everybody is trying to better themselves and fill every minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run. I’m past the point of trying to implicate massive changes into the way I work; I have a really flawed working mechanism but I’m used to it! I work freelance and juggle a lot of projects on a daily basis. I often get comments like “How do you fit it all in? You must be so organised” which is ridiculous as the inside of my brain is CHAOS.
I’m naturally a very scattered person; I’m that annoying type who has to make a big mess to produce anything. Picture the kid in school who has to pull all the paints out of the box to make the exact shade they want, spills half the paint on themselves and then forgets to tidy up after. That’s me! Over the years I’ve found a few ways to keep organised and I thought I’d share them below.
Explain To Others What Is Going On
For me this is step one of doing ANYTHING. After years of living at home with my Mum “tidying” away (read: destroying) whatever I was working on, these days I’ve learnt that the very first thing I need to do is tell somebody else that I’m doing it. This ranges from “I’m writing a daily plan for the next month and I’ve put you in the first box of each day” to “Don’t touch the box of insects on the table” to “the lights need to be re-glittered in twelve step stages in the car”. Expressing your intention to another living person (or in e-mail or whatever) makes it a bit more real and also helps you keep yourself accountable with whatever task you’re doing. Also, those are genuinely all things I’ve said in the last 24 hours.
Last-Minute Task Lists
This is a big one for me, I’ll reach midweek and tasks seem to piling up out of nowhere. The physical process of writing down a list of what I need to do is a really useful thing to do just before I go to bed.
Carry Something Extra
I constantly have piles of music, clothes, props or whatever that need to go somewhere in my car, bags for the charity shop and packages to post. I’ve made it my rule that every time I leave the house I have to take something either to the car/post office/charity shop or whatever. This means I avoid having to run a load of “moving stuff around” errands at the weekends because I’ve worked it into the week.
Use Lists Wisely
KEEP YOUR LISTS IN THE SAME PLACE. Don’t have a reminders list on your Reminders app, a list in your notes, a list in 3 separate notebooks, a list on your whiteboard. Keep all your lists in the same place! I learned this the hard way after years of frantically running from app to app.
Stop Using Paper
This is my big resolution for this year. I’m a sucker for stationary and there was a point this summer where I had about 18 notebooks on the go – one separate for each project. This is crazy! It’s much to have a couple of saved documents, and save physically writing stuff down for other things (i.e. daily lists as mentioned above). Try and digitise as many documents as you can – it’s better for the environment, more efficient management-wise and you don’t have to lug a library around wherever you go. There’s nothing like calmly using the search box on your computer as opposed to tearing your room apart and rifling through half the stock of Paperchase for one specific detail.
Don’t Touch It Twice
This is something I’ve been training myself to do. Don’t read a message and then respond to it later basically – either read the e-mail and reply, or don’t check it then. I’m the worst for a middle of the night message check and then marking stuff as unread or having to favourite tweets to deal with later. It’s just a really poor use of time!
So there we go! Nothing that breaks the mould but a few things I’ve learned along the way. I’m thinking about sharing a couple more posts on time and project management, working from home and being freelance – so watch this space if you think that sounds good!
If you’re not familiar with my project Quizcats, Quizcats is a 10 piece band and we put on events that combine live-band karaoke with a pub quiz. The nights are themed (films, musicals, 90s etc) and end up superfun in a silly, easy way: dancing, costumes, prizes for best team name and so on. I spend most of my time working on Quizcats – sorting all aspects of the show and promoting it.
Next Sunday we’re doing a Christmas themed show, Quizmas. I am SO excited!! I didn’t think I could get through this month without telling you about it – it’s been my sole focus for so many weeks and I’ve dedicated myself to the project. This show has a few festive surprises – we have a Christmassy photobooth (I’m secretly jealous I can’t get involved with this!) and the rest of the band (the 9 guys in the pictures) will all be dressed in seasonal attire, complete with me in a ridiculous Santa dress. I can’t wait to see what the audience wear!
We get a lot of comments from the audience on how much fun they have and I think it’s genuinely because (as cheesey as it sounds) we, the band, have so much fun on stage. I put in a lot (a LOT) of unpaid hours to the job, but the minute I get into rehearsals with the guys or up on stage with Chris it’s like I’m having the time of my life. The shows are at the forefront of my mind for such a long time, occupying so much stress and toil, but on the night I just basically go on stage and have a ball.I think the place I’m really happiest is performing in front of an audience and the Quizcats boys are just such an awesome bunch, every show we do feels like we’re just hanging out and having a great time. To have an entire audience join in dancing along and cheering with you is indescribably fun!
I’ll definitely share some pictures of the event itself once it’s happened! If you’re London based and want to come then use the code “TapeParade” for 40% off tickets. And let me know so I can come and say hello! #Quizmas :)
Dubai & Mauritius
I’m currently in Mauritius, a tiny island off the coast of Africa best known as a honeymoon destination. I’m not here for a holiday but sadly due to a family situation that is reaching crisis point. This trip was completely unplanned and last-minute, arising at the most inconvenient time in the way these things tend to. We had a few days stopover in Dubai (as you may have seen from this jubilant post) and I am now in Mauritius. Mauritius is one of my favourite places in the world and I’ve written a lot about it before.
Even given the present circumstances I’m grateful to be here in this beautiful country, although I feel very displaced right now. I had planned for September and October to be about recording, rooting myself in projects for the next couple months, writing round the clock and laying the foundations for next years work. Instead I’m a million miles away from home, trying to reschedule and mentally readjusting to effectively pausing my life for a bit. I feel like somebody’s taken over the reins for a bit and it’s pretty bizarre. If I don’t get much chance to blog in the next few weeks.. you know where I am, and I’ll try and share this incredible place on Instagram (@lailapictures) from time to time as well.
These photos are from absolutely ages ago, I think almost a month? March has been one of my busiest months on record as you may have noticed from the lack of posts. I met up with two lovely bloggers, Bel and Lix in Camden and we spent the day wandering around Camden, basically eating and drinking and nattering. All these blogging meet-up days are definitely following a theme..!
I’m definitely not a fashion blogger and you have to admire the dedication of the other two (going to 4 different cafes because the aesthetic wasn’t right, bringing an alternative item of clothing specifically for the photos). I’m just never going to be that person… maybe I can be the person who shares all my travels and work with you instead? Huge props to Bel for managing to get these photos anyway regardless of my awful posing.
It’s always interesting to speak with other freelancers. Freelancing has a reputation for being a big struggle but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. For me it’s not really something I think about too much, although I know freelancing can be kind of a tag or badge of honour for some people. I earn a good amount, freelancing suits my personality and I’m constantly happy and fulfilled with my work. I’ve found it pretty easy to get to the position I’m in but I think that’s because this kind of work really suits me as a person; if left to my own devices with no need to earn money I’d probably end up freelancing anyway.
Today we’re going to find out what I actually do! Despite having a ‘Career’ category on this blog, “I don’t really understand your job” is a statement I’ve encountered a fair few times in the blog world recently. People never ask me in real life as everyone I know is either in the creative arts themselves or knows me directly through a job. So I thought it was time to be a bit clearer here on the blog – I’m warning you now it’s a wordy post!
I would describe my job as a musician, which is purposefully very broad as I don’t like to label or pin myself down too much. I also rarely use the word freelance as I think with arts it’s a given! I have a very broad skillset thanks to lot of varied training, so to be more specific I would possibly get looked over for certain jobs. Sometimes I include other words like director, writer, researcher, teacher and composer. What it really means is that I do a variety of different jobs at the same time, mostly centred around music. Some jobs last only a couple of weeks, some 3-6 months and some have been constants for years, so my schedule changes weekly.
I rarely post about my current work and jobs on here as it changes so regularly, and also, it’s all covered elsewhere! I maintain a very friendly and informal mailing list (Lailaletter) and also have a page and website. But for the purposes of this post, I’ll tell you about my current jobs and the sorts of things they involve. It’s not a perfect overview but it is current!
Teaching – I’ve been doing this since I was in Sixth Form. This job involves regular communication with parents, submitting pupils for exams, lesson planning, dealing with new enquiries and writing report cards, as well as actually teaching the lessons on weekly basis. Unofficially, I also spend a lot of time helping my GCSE, A-Level and University pupils. They’re learning what to do, how to get into the industry, how to survive financially, what their strengths are and much more. Teachers have a special relationship with students and can really offer a lot of guidance and perspective.
Quizcats – this is a subdivision of my business WOLF PACK. We run themed pub quizzes which involve a live band and karaoke. I’m on an entrepreneurship scheme with this project and have regular meetings with my mentors. My work at the moment involves promotion, writing arrangements, managing the band, controlling social media, booking shows, maintaining the website and dealing with enquiries – mostly related to our upcoming show in 3 weeks time. I started both of these from scratch and did the concept and logos for both.
TAPE PARADE – not this blog but the songs! This “job” is really me doing what I want with my songs – at the moment I’m writing an albums worth of material that deals with my grief over losing my best friend last year. I’m also preparing a bunch to be recorded. This job earns the least money but is by far the most important to me. At other times this job may involve booking and promoting gigs or communicating with labels and agents.
Depping – on piano, bassoon, voice, clarinet, ukulele and accordion. Depping means I cover for absent players in orchestras, gigs, musical theatre concerts.
So that’s my “job” at the moment. It’s a relatively quiet time at the moment; I chose to take on less work after a heavy couple of months last year. I’ve got at least 3 new projects in the next couple of months so this post will be outdated in about two weeks! I’m quite proud of my body of work; I’ve created a lot of things, worked on some good shows and I’ve been fortunate to get to perform a lot. That’s really when I come to life! If you want to hear or see any of my work, then there are links to everything here, or join my newsletter. It’s basically an e-mail version of the life updates I used to occasionally post. Let me know what you think!
I hope things are a little clearer now! It’s been a fun 7 years of working entirely in music and creative arts and I’m grateful to be doing all the things I always wanted to. I realised whilst writing this that I could branch into various topics; CVs, networking, surviving money wise, time management, etc… let me know if you’re interested. :)
This is what a day in the life of me looks like at the moment. I am currently working incredibly hard on a week of upcoming concerts with WOLF PACK and this is just a random day last week. I started off with a marketing meeting at the Hospital Club in Endell Street with my WP colleagues and we stopped for sandwiches after.The afternoon saw us working at C4CC on our upcoming concerts. We are so lucky to be supported by this amazing centre; it makes such a huge difference having an office space and to be working alongside so many inspiring and creative people and their ingenious projects!
If you’re interested further in my career I was interviewed a couple of months ago by Youth Arts Online.