For some years now, I’ve been making what I call a “Master Calendar.” My first one was very simple, a few pages with each month of the year listed and some white space underneath it. And now they are much more elaborate and include my daughter’s artwork as well (see photo from 2010 where I captured it falling off the wall). I started making a master calendar because:
- I process information best visually.
- I often came across opportunities that I wanted to pursue, but I’m too late or too early and would forget about it by the next time it came around.
- I needed a way to keep projects in the pipeline and stay organized as a freelance musician.
Here’s what goes on the calendar:
- gigs (shows and recording dates)
- open mics, jam sessions and/or showcases to perform in
- booking contact dates and follow up dates (including specific festivals and concert series)
- competition deadlines
- artist residencies
- professional development workshops
- music conferences, etc.
- grant application availability and deadlines
- camps or programs for which I would like to get faculty positions
- financials (domain name renewals, sonicbids.com renewal, etc.)
The master calendar not only serves the purpose of informing me of upcoming opportunities and allowing me to plan out projects and potential income over the course of a year, but it also helps me weave things together for the most bang for my buck. For example, let’s say I plan to record a demo. I can try to make sure it meets the specific requirements of two other auditions coming up in that year in addition to my original goals. It’s also very helpful in grant writing because the funding cycles are often so far in the future. If you don’t have specific dates – just block out the dates around the expected time next year, or plan on checking into it during a specific month.
Here’s how I make mine. I simply print a whole year from iCal on my Mac in the month view and tape them all together. Then I’ll use different colors as I add everything in to differentiate the different types of activities. Here is a blank 2013 pdf for you to download if you like.
If you’re not a big visual person, you could easily put this in iCal, or just a word document. All this being said, we all know how unpredictable life can be and we often are surprised at where life took us looking back on a particular year. The best part about making a master calendar for your professional activities is that if for some reason, you don’t end up doing any of this stuff, you haven’t wasted much time, and much of that ground work will still be good when you are ready to pick up again. You just save the calendar and transfer relevant information over to the new year. I’ll be making my 2012 calendar starting later today. A bit late in production, but hey, that’s life with a new baby!