Study Hall

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It’s About Time: Growing As An Audio Professional While Keeping An Eye On The Work/Life Balance

My goal is simply to envision a healthy balance, do the best I can, and let it go if I fall a bit short. I’ve learned that I can’t focus too much on one activity for an entire day and neglect the other stuff...

In case your Apple watch is on the fritz, I’d like to offer a friendly reminder that there are only 24 hours in a day. What we do with those hours is often dictated by our current occupation in professional audio, but sometimes the choice is actually our own. You may be an audio engineer on tour or employed at a venue, or perhaps your role in the industry keeps you closer to home working at an office that services audio clients. Either way, if you’re lucky, you’ll occasionally get a few hours or even a few days off.

Whether I’m on tour or home between tours and corporate shows, I constantly struggle with “getting it all done.” When I have a day off on the road, I generally spend a good part of it advancing upcoming shows, paying bills, making calls and checking in at home. Days off are also great for getting in a workout. I love to walk, so a couple hours can easily be chewed up exploring a nice area of the city you’re visiting and burning some calories.

Somewhere in all of that, I also have to find some breakfast, lunch and dinner, so a few more hours are accounted for in nourishing the body. (And having a hazy IPA or two!) As the day winds down and I’m looking ahead to my 8 am lobby call the next morning, it’s usually an episode or two of Netflix and off to sleep.

Making Choices

So where in these 24 hours (remember, this is an “off” day) can we become more educated, informed, technically proficient audio professionals? There are tons of great articles to read in this publication and on the web, and new YouTube videos to watch featuring fascinating topics like parallel bus compression, networking, new loudspeaker designs and so on.

You’ve also been meaning to try out that new iPad app that lets you operate the console remotely, and you’ve also been wanting to build a template file on the latest greatest console’s offline software, but you just can’t seem to find the time. (Well, my friends… I can’t find it either!)

However, apparently many of my friends and colleagues are able to find these “lost” hours every day that aren’t afforded to me, because they’re posting on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, hosting a webinar and updating their audio blog, all while working a full day on tour or sleeping an extra few hours on their day off. I can’t figure it out.

If you’re an audio pro who spends a good portion of the year working the corporate/industrial side of the business, you can certainly relate to the problem of too few hours left in the day for the “other stuff” when the “actual” workday is done. And there are big choices to make after a 16-hour day of rehearsals and shows: 1) Go straight to bed and wake up an hour earlier the next morning to hit the gym, or 2) Meet the rest of the crew and clients in the bar for a nightcap to wind down and be social. Oh, and when exactly are you going to get to those 127 emails that have been piling up in the inbox during this 10-day show?

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I began by stating that I struggle with this as much as the next person, so there will be no life-changing answers here, I’m afraid, but I wanted to write this piece to encourage others who are dealing with this issue to take a big breath and know you’re not alone. I work with folks who accomplish way more than me in a day, and I work with people who don’t seem to get much of anything done on their days off (unless running up a big bar tab counts!). Most of my friends and colleagues work extremely hard and very much deserve some extra sleep or one more drink at the bar, so who am I to judge?

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