Tag Archives: work-life balance

The 3 F-words That Sabotage Your VO Productivity: Fear, Freezing and Facebook

…or why I probably won’t be wishing you happy birthday on Facebook anymore (unless you are family). Apologies in advance. I love you anyway.

Every Monday Morning, and once a month in two other cases,  I log onto google hangouts and meet with my voiceover mastermind peeps. These groups were born at faffcon and WoVO  and are a huge part of my voiceover business (and, yes, now my personal) life.

break it down...

break it down…

I love these voiceover peeps. We inspire, help, and ground one another. How? By sharing what we have accomplished, what’s next to accomplish, and what’s standing in our way. Also, we support each other (and ourselves) when things go awry – or undone.  Accountability, plus forgiveness. Ahhh. There are, indeed, all sorts of obstacles to putting our plans in action. Some are genuine priority changers (e.g. family matters), others are – well, yeah – pure procrastination.

There are tons of reasons we put stuff off: perfectionism, lack of scheduling, shortage of time, decreased desire. Still, along the way, I’ve noticed three recurring themes in my own procrastination patterns that all begin with the letter F. Hmm. So – a few thoughts and tips.

FEAR – Look at your own voiceover to-do list. What’s on it that keeps getting moved from day to day, month to month, even year to year? (um, cold-contacting potential new clients, perhaps?) Ask yourself:

  • did I just not get around to this, or am I afraid to do it? 

Your own answer may lead you to the next questions:

  • what, exactly, scares me?
  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • Could I handle that?

For inspiration, and solutions, there’s a terrific Tedx Talk about fear that is guiding me to go from “No, Thanks” to “Let Me Try.” I hope it sparks you too!

 

What do you fear?

What do you fear?

the second F-word here is…..

FREEZINGOh, my gosh, so much to do! so many possibilities! I could contact e-learning clients, or maybe it’s time to update my promos demo, or…oh wow I forgot to send a thank-you note to yesterday’s clinet…actually, all the clients from the last three months…or….

And before you know it, you’re eating cookies and binge-watching Taxi on hulu. Something so satisfying about completing an episode.

Hmm, what’s an entrepreneur to do? How to avoid freezing? Especially when you still haven’t completed that business plan that’s supposed to guide your days?

You can still thaw yourself, at least enough to get some stuff done. How?

  • Prioritize. Ideally, you know what matters most today. A project due at End of Day? EASY! That’s an obvious priority. But those important but not urgent tasks? ….schedule them.
  • Schedule. Freezing happens when we don’t schedule our tasks. Guilty as charged…much of the time. But I gotta tell you, when I do schedule a task – assign a day and TIME to do it – it generally gets done.
  • Activation energy. That’s when you leave a visual reminder around that makes it seem like you’ve already begun the task. The sneakers in your car if you plan to walk that day. The guitar on display instead of in the case if you want to practice. The phone number written down on a post-it note and stuck on your phone. The template/script for cold calls or cold e-mails already opened. This helps a lot!

Another great TED Talk, this one on procrastination:

Freeze - or Do?

Freeze – or Do?

The third F-word?

FACEBOOK. Or the likes. Sorry, but it’s true. Man, it’s such an easy distraction. And, according to the Udemy course on Gmail Productivity I just took (and, ahem, completed, thank you very much!), it takes our brains a full 20 minutes to return to task once we’ve distracted ourselves. Oy. So this year I set out to tame the FB time-sucking monster, and it has helped immensely. Strangely enough, my fragile actor’s ego has benefited too. Here’s what worked for me, after trial and error:

Stop or limit scrolling. Set newsfeeds so your close friends and family show up first. And once the “friend” you don’t recognize shows up, stop!  If you do scroll, only do it for recreation, not procrastination. Choose what matters. I love pix of your cute baby, but will not respond to your political opinion. Others will. Know your own priorities.

Check notifications first. For me, this works the best. I get on and off of FB in under a minute this way.  If nothing sparks your interest, get out of there! Mostly I now click on family and close friend posts. I stay off many groups, especially the humble brag stuff. Not saying it’s bad, just saying it’s not the best use of my time to scroll and click away. I want to run my own race.

Happy Birthday in Advance!

Happy Birthday in Advance!

Don’t feel guilty if you skip the Birthday Thing for acquaintances. Or the Linked-In Anniversary thing.  This was fun the first year of facebook, but (sorry!) I’ve mostly eliminated it from my timesheet. If Facebook told me it’s your birthday, it doesn’t seem so special to post it to your timeline – family and close-to-family excepted. And if you skip my birthday this year, I’ll understand. Let’s assume we love each other anyway.

Time I used to spend on FB per day: probably an hour. Time these days: under 5 minutes a day. And I don’t miss much.

Just my few cents. In social media in general, I try only to post if:

  • it might make someone laugh
  • it might be useful to someone (even a tweeted  tidbit from an audiobook I’m narrating)
  • it connects us somehow (we’ll feel less alone)

So I hope you find this useful! And remember another F-word. A nice one. Forgiveness. We’re all just working on this stuff. Practice makes better, not perfect 🙂

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Voice Talents: Go Outside and Play! (and Faffcamp)

Voice Talents spend way too much time indoors. In fact, on certain days (neighbors mowing lawns, airplanes zooming by) we kind of curse the outdoors. Noisy!  Those of us who do this full-time, and primarily from home,  know that when we are not recording and editing we are “supposed” to be still chained to the computer: marketing, researching, attending webinars, adding to databases, flaunting our latest work….and before we know it our brain hurts from activity but our bodies hurt from inactivity.

Plus, unless we’ve been lucky enough to work that day in an outside studio with actual other humans, we are often isolated and mentally locked in. Yes. This has become an occupational hazard.  And while the “Social Media Water Coolers” (facebook groups, video conference calls, blogs, twitter, etc) provide a lovely reminder that we are, indeed, part of a community of others in the same boat (or, rather, booth), they do not take the place of actual physical contact with other real live humans – and the world outside our sound-dampened spaces.

It happens if we want it to happen!

It happens if we want it to happen!

One big fix, of course, is to make room in your budget and schedule to attend some kind of voice over conference. These vary from local meet-up groups to the more national ones like WoVoCon or Faffcon. If you have heard of Faffcon but haven’t been able to get in (attendance is limited) , here is your chance to go to another incredible Faff-event called Faffcamp.  This will happen in March of 2015 but only if enough sign up by tonight! (July 10, 2014)  Newbies, this is your chance. Don’t blow it – take the step now! I can attest that every single time I have attended one of these, my spirit soars and my voiceover business increases. So register today, and if you use this code,  VT9026055 , you’ll get $25 off!

 

Between conferences, however, we need to take care of our mental and physical health as well – every day. So, on a daily basis – what to do?

Voice talents: go outside and play!  It is not something to do “if you have time” – make time. Continue reading

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Voiceovers… and The Lure of “Normal”

When I was 17 years old, I made a vow that I would never work a Monday-Friday 9-to-5 job.

It made sense at the time. I’d just finished ten weeks doing just that in Manhattan, the summer before college, to earn tuition money.  It had seemed like a great opportunity, assisting in the publicity department of a book publisher. Unfortunately, the job mostly entailed typing while facing a blank wall. Well – that, and watching the clock for lunchtime and quitting time. Yuck. Plus, my typing sucks (and btw still does). So I figured the “normal” life was just not for me. And I’ve pretty much kept that vow ever since.

That, my friends, like all vows, can be a curse as well as a blessing. Limiting, sure – but any improv actor can confirm that limitations can unleash lots of creativity. And sometimes we really need it.

Being a full-time voice talent means that no day is exactly the same as the day before. I love that! And yet – sometimes I am tempted by the lure of normal. Are you?

The Temptations of an Everyday Gig

This past month, I’ve spent more time on the air at our local NPR radio affiliate, as they are in the process of hiring a new full-time talent and I’m filling the

Today's Morning Gig

Today’s Morning Gig

gaps until then.  Sure, I thought about applying for the job myself.  Ah, the lure of benefits! a 401k! something stable in my schedule! steady salary!

But ultimately, I didn’t even apply. I’m happier being the understudy here, free to say no if I have big voiceover project to finish, or a business trip planned. So I stay, for now, with the eclectic, uncertain  life I lead as a voice talent (plus extra, related, gigs). A small voice is asking why I made that choice…but I know why. And, if you are an addicted voice talent too, I’ll bet you understand the choice – and also the temptation. Continue reading

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The Best Laid Plans…are still a good idea

OK, I will admit it. Here it is, January 23rd, with just about a week left in the month, and my monthly VO goals and plans are far from complete (as you can see in the photo below). So, if you want to gloat, feel free. I hope your list looks a bit more, um, checked off than mine.

The Best Laid Plans...may have to be flexible

The Best Laid Plans…may have to be flexible

See, the VO Plan for this month is supposed to be all about e-learning.  But, hey, life happens. And some of it comes in the form of lovely surprises that we didn’t plan on.  Some stuff we help create, some stuff comes to us unexpectedly because of seeds we have planted in the past, or sometimes just plain luck.

Kayaking on Lake WindermereLife flows. And the truth is – sometimes we have the paddle to speed up the process, steer the canoe. And sometimes, we don’t. But the upside of this is that sometimes, when we have taken a breather from navigating, good stuff happens anyway. It just may not be what we had planned.

I suspect that my to-do list this month may stay a bit unchecked. But, ya know, sometimes you gotta look and see how far you’ve come, and what you did accomplish while you were busy fretting about what didn’t happen. For instance, these obstacles/surprises happened so far in January:

  • the local NPR affiliate radio station needed me to fill in some air-shifts while they wait to hire a new announcer. Bonus: I got to get out of the house and work with a team (in person) for a change.
  • a voice-over pal of mine needed a place to record while she was out-of-town (and right near my house) – and I was able to help her out. Bonus: this cemented our often-virtual friendship
  • I gained one new telephony client, one possible “live announce” client, and a promising regular retainer for internet radio work. Sure, I planned on marketing e-learning this month, but I am happy anyway :). Bonus: well, you know.
  • I replied to a facebook post on a whim and am voicing the audiobook of Peter Pan. I finally get to play Peter! and John…and Wendy…and Hook…Bonus: what a lovely book!
  • I gained a new agent – in Germany!
  • and of course there’s family, and friends, and community…having the freedom to choose those over the to-do list? Your married daughter calls and asks if we can “all go see a movie together and have family time”? Yeah. Priceless.

Yes, there’s a limit to procrastination. Can’t blow it all off. Bills must be paid, we all work hard, and it does feel really good to stick with your plan. And, even though I haven’t done everything on my list, the fact that I made the plan, and keep it handy, makes it easy to fill those rare “unplanned” hours productively.

So, hey. Definitely set goals. Definitely break them down into action steps, and don’t let fear get in your way. But if what does get in the way is other good stuff in your life, let that happen. Put down your paddle and let the flow carry you. And -forgive yourself! Look at what you did get done -both on the checklist and off it. Transfer those “un-done” tasks to the next month – and celebrate what happened instead.

By the way, here’s the famous quote – but I disagree with the second half of it. Sometimes the detours bring you promised joy of their own kind. It just, maybe, wasn’t you had planned.

The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

(originally, in case you’re a stickler:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley,

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!)

Robert BurnsTo a Mouse (Poem, November, 1785)

Scottish national poet (1759 – 1796)

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The Full-Time Eclectic Voice Talent: Many Eggs, Several Baskets

When I created my Voice-Over website with the amazing folks at Artist Upgrade, we wrestled with the age-old question (well, for voice talents, anyway):

“Just” a Voice Talent, or  More?

I opted for the latter.

RandyeKaye.com

RandyeKaye.com

Yes, I am a full-time voice talent. My VO clients are my highest work priority. If you book me, the job will be done on time (well, usually before that deadline), at budget, and to your satisfaction.  This is what I do for a living. The only thing standing in the way of your project is a prior commitment to another job – and you will know about that before you book me for your project.

So – does that leave room for the other things in my life? Can I let my clients know that I also do other things? Stage, on-camera, writing, speaking, teaching, broadcasting — or, for that matter, parenting? rock climbing? (well, I don’t actually do that, but you get the point. Maybe you do it!)

You bet.  At least, that’s what we decided. Because every other skill and experience in life makes us better voice talents. Continue reading

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Fruits vs. Laurels:The Balanced VO Life

resting on our laurels?

resting on our laurels?

Running a small business is not for sissies. Nor is it for dreamers who don’t take steps toward the dream.

Yeah, yeah. We know that.

We know we can’t just rest on our laurels…but at times, we do need to enjoy the fruits of our labors.

Most of my voice-over pals get that first part; we don’t let ourselves rest on past success. Yes, we know…”you’re only as successful as your next booking.” In fact, we’re constantly sharing progress on our never-ending to-do lists (finish the project, register for Faffcon or Voice-Over Virtual, send the audition your agent wants) as well as ongoing projects

fruits of our labors...

fruits of our labors…

(organize clients and prospects clients into a database, write that next blog post, revamp the website and demos) – and, often, we feel we come up short when we look at what we still want to accomplish.

Nope, no resting on laurels here. What we forget to do – or sometimes don’t let ourselves do – is to enjoy some of the fruits of those labors.

Voice-Over Talents: Can a Small Business Owner Take a Break? Continue reading

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