It’s About Time

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—by Kirsten Carrell Osborne

How to get the most value out of your time by working smart, not hard.

Throughout my childhood, my mom often used the phrase “work smart, not hard.” But it wasn’t until I became a professional musician that I truly understood the value of those words. The concept is simple: find the most efficient way to complete tasks and maximize the value of your time. Don’t waste time by taking the long way, but instead look for the most straightforward path. Though the concept is simple, effectively valuing your time can be one of the trickiest parts of a freelancer’s job.

When I first began the tenuous journey from student harpist to professional harpist, the concept of charging for my time was foreign. I was accustomed to taking any and all gigs at most any price, for the experience and the sheer love of playing the instrument in front of an audience. I spent countless hours emailing with prospective clients and students and playing free gigs in hopes of future paid opportunities. I had gig blinders on and I couldn’t see how much of my time was being wasted.

I am not alone. Many musicians struggle to adequately value their time and experience. How can we minimize our time spent working and maximize the value? How do we avoid spreading ourselves too thin? How can we consistently work smart and not hard—or at least not quite so hard?

I can’t put a dollar amount on your time. That’s up to you. What I can do is share some of the ways that I have learned to get more out of my time. After all, time is money.

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