In this excellent blog post, Adam Small talks about how important it is to be able to say ‘no’ to gigs when appropriate.
A few months ago, I was playing bass with a great singer/songwriter who rehearsed about once a week, and I was teaching an afternoon of lessons one day a week. Neither of these projects were a major time commitment, but they were limiting my time a lot more than I thought they would.
For example, the singer/songwriter would rehearse for an hour on Monday mornings around 10 am. There was about 45 minutes travel time to and from the rehearsal, and when it was over I had to quickly run and pick up my daughter from school and watch her for the rest of the day.
This one-hour rehearsal would take up my entire morning, forcing me to skip my three-hour organ practice routine. Then the next day, I would have to spend most of my practice time just catching up from not practicing the day before.
So the one-hour rehearsal on monday morning would effectively reduce my practice time by 30% and made it that much harder to work toward my dream of earning a living playing jazz organ.
Same was true with the lessons that I taught on Wednesday afternoon. When I decided to stop playing with the band and teaching bass lessons, I was able to free up enough time to establish a great practice routine that I can stick to every day. I saw big improvements in my playing almost immediately.
Now I am much more careful and I make sure to only commit to doing things which are in alignment with what I’m trying to do with my life.