Audio Freelance Asbjoern Andersen


After her tweet on the challenges of the audio freelance life went viral, field recordist/sound designer Melissa Pons shares insights, thoughts and lessons learned - from herself and others in the community - on how to live as a freelancer in the sound industry, find a healthy work/life balance, and make money without losing one's sanity.
Written by Melissa Pons
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The title of this post is not there by chance. There will always be interchangeable actions and forces that a freelancer can apply to their working practices allowing them to at least have some space for a good life. However, unfortunately, it feels almost normative that we over-work in detriment to our personal life and health. It seems that most of us consistently fail the basics: sufficient sleep, socialising, being outdoors and exercising while feeding anxiety and stress. I’ve spoken to some audio pros who have colleagues that ended up hospitalized or suffered a heart attack due to the excess of work and the ‘studio life.’ I think it’s more than time to address this with the seriousness it deserves. After all, many of us reached a point of burn out at least once and we know it’s not a place to go back to.

If you follow me on Twitter chances are you’ve seen my tweet from September 10th micro-blowing up.

LiveAsFreelancer_sound_01

I read every comment and spoke privately to other sound professionals who kindly agreed to have their suggestions shared in this article. What follows is then a mix of different experiences, some suggestions and a tiny bit of scientific perspective for the hard facts.

 

The Freelance life

If I said that in my adult life I struggled to keep things organised 95% of the time would you believe I was not exaggerating? From balancing work and university on my own, to being an audio freelancer, there has always been a pattern: being overwhelmed and exhausted and then spending forced resting days with no energy but still under the crushing pressure of doing things, many of those important and overdue like bills and work deliveries. Everything was all over the place constantly: my physical space and my mind. Being overwhelmed often causes us to distort our reality a bit, making everything appear urgent; we then think that by not attending to those tasks ASAP, everything will crumble. Anxiety is so draining and if not managed on the long-term, it can lead to devastating consequences – lowered immune system and increase risk of heart disease.

Being overwhelmed often causes us to distort our reality a bit, making everything appear urgent…

Now, as an adult who is pursuing a career that re-centered recently, and has had 100% responsibility for herself since early, it is still not easy to balance everything out. In fact, only in the latest year I have finally identified clear patterns in my behaviour and ‘comfort zones’ that point the way to being productive, rested and happy. I come from a place where I already have basic equipment to work on and experience enough to skip ‘entry level’ jobs, but this article is also for those who are starting out freelancing so they can avoid crashes later.

Early in 2018, I thought I was going to have a spectacular year: I had two feature films scheduled as sound supervisor and sound designer, a series of creative educational videos and another film project. But in reality, I had no clue I was going to spend several weeks between instantaneously falling asleep at any given opportunity and dragging myself to my workstation or to the studio, filled with resentment towards the projects, the people involved and towards myself for having allowed that, even though I thought the lesson was learned from the year before. Every bit of leisure time I spent with my room-mate consisted of me ranting about the director and producers, how exhausted I was and how much I needed to get over the projects.

There were many days in a row I didn’t reply to my closest friend’s texts and calls. My blog was abandoned; I was not learning anything interesting outside what work itself entails and I felt unhappy and frustrated although I loved my job!

At some point in the summer, thankfully, I was able to take 3 weeks of vacation (well, actually the production went out of money and the post-production was halted); I was lucky to have been lent an apartment in Paris but spent the first three days sleeping about 15 hours each, without even having energy or will to go out.

In other words, and according to the World Health Organization and International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), I was burnt out: A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job and reduced professional efficacy.

Recovery from burnout is lengthy and difficult. And being a freelancer makes this extremely dangerous…

I was exactly where I shouldn’t be and that was my responsibility. Recovery from burnout is lengthy and difficult. And being a freelancer makes this extremely dangerous because it’s hard to get financial aid from the welfare system, creating a cycle of needing to work to assure survival, perpetuating exhaustion and low performance.

I have always been convinced that loving what you do is a major driving force for an overall happy life. However, despite taking pleasure from working on sound design, whenever conflicts of all kinds arose, creating an unpleasant atmosphere, I almost envied friends with office job hours (something I never wanted for myself). It wasn’t necessarily about the 9-5 schedule but the ability to switch off from work and simply tap into their world of social and personal relationships. I was in the ‘grey zone’ all the time, which Steven Kotler defines as “the no-man’s land where we’re not fully focused, or recovering or even enjoying ourselves.”
[tweet_box]How To Actually Live as an Audio Freelancer – by Melissa Pons[/tweet_box] But let me make clear that my opinion is this: over-work culture is wrong. We might love what we do, but there is more to life than work. Work is there primarily to support you and your family. If you work, you need to get paid; what you get paid, at least on a full-time basis, should be enough to live comfortably.

If you work, you need to get paid; what you get paid…should be enough to live comfortably.

However, there is a degree of flexibility — people who love their job can have the ability to happily put some extra time working over a period in order to spend great vacations or living with higher standards, for example. This is a choice up to each one of us but the underlying point of this article is that whatever happens, our health and well-being shouldn’t be neglected.

Here’s what Korey Pereira had to say about that when we talked: “I work hard, probably too much at times. I have a difficult time saying ‘no’ and rarely do so. This can often lead to long hours and little sleep at times. How do I cope with this? By seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. My wife and I love to travel and, with the exception of during COVID, we travel as much as possible. While I do often still record some ambiences on our travels, I am able to reset and return feeling fresh and ready to get back to work.”

I hope this will also be a helpful read for those who are trying to make something out of their side hustle. There are a handful of adaptable strategies I will try to break down, with invaluable input from the sound community (thank you; you are the best!).

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Learn more about Melissa Pons:

Want to know more about Melissa Pons and her work? Visit her website here

Income

A lot starts here, right? Many of us fear saying no to a gig on the chance of missing opportunities and especially income. One strategy I learned some years ago, reading this article by Kate Finan, was to balance how much I need every month vs. what salary I can expect to be paid according to the industry, location and my experience level. It’s not always possible, but I strived to raise my fees as much as I could, within reason, to make sure it covered everything. That includes very important aspects which were based on the comparison of full-time job salary:

● how much would I get after taxes
● does it cover the possibility of vacation or just living through the month
● if it allowed me to buckle some to invest in my profession

This is a starting point but on the possibility of little or nothing, if needed, I ended up accepting some lower-paying jobs so I could replace them in the near future or ask for a raise.

Having a clear idea of our financial needs can define a part of our professional paths, influence our side projects and how we navigate between them. You can read more about this in the topic below:

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Priorities & Focus

To put everything in context, here’s what happened in that last year that led me into this equilibrium quest: In January I lost my sound design position in a country where these don’t come easy to get nor are well paid, as a norm. My deception with a part of my experience in the industry was smashing me to the point I thought about just quitting. Somehow I still felt hurt from the burnout in 2018 and was seeing myself going straight into it again. So I questioned what path to follow and since everything was already in shambles, it was also the opportunity to go from zero, even though it was an intensely rough period.

Months later, I accepted that a field recording career takes time to build to the point of sustainability but I am fine with it and with what it entails, simply because I enjoy it a lot and it fits me really well.

Right now, I’m lucky to live off of audio, editing podcasts part-time to finance the basics and spending the rest of the working hours on field recording. For me, this is fine because I’m always walking towards what I really love to do; at the same time, I’m very lucky with my podcast clients, so this doesn’t weigh emotionally on me. I think this is something to look at first: what job makes you happy? It’s not that we always have a choice (and so many people across the world don’t), but when we do it’s a light pointing the way; from here, I feel, we can plan and set our priorities.

I think this is something to look at first: what job makes you happy?

This didn’t come without a basic level of panic: How could I allocate several hours of field recording each week with the instant money making activity and would that mean living on the edge? For the latter, yes — but with a well-defined plan to grow in the medium-term.

In short, a maximum number of hours spent on podcasting allows me to live to my current standards and I put the remaining time into field recording, that I take as seriously. There are some days when it’s really difficult to care for both, but even if I can spend 90 minutes of every working day editing my recordings I know I am on the right track and it keeps me close to my projects. Accepting that is a long-term process is much better than feeling anxious all the time.

Shortly after everything happened and before I decided to go full-force on field recording, in panic I scattered myself over online courses on project management, learning and writing. Only one was completed… Anxiety was on the rise and I was looking to build knowledge and tools in areas I thought I could get a job pretty quickly. While it’s great to expand skills and learn a variety of things, clearly I was out of focus from what I needed and wanted. The fact that I never managed to complete most of the courses told me more about my actual need of doing the courses than my scheduling expertise.

There is more to ‘loving your job’ than we might think: intrinsic motivation is where performance should start, and being able to perform well is vital for tackling the tasks of our work. For me, this has been the foundation stone: the work is done in a more organized fashion, more productive (less mistakes and not going around in circles) and more goal-orientated. Now, this is not to say that a lot of us procrastinate even on tasks that we enjoy; however, many times we do it when we are expecting any sort of obstacle, if we are tired or if there is something of importance buzzing in our minds.

…intrinsic motivation is where performance should start, and being able to perform well is vital for tackling the tasks of our work.

So let’s go back to the grey zone and briefly discuss each item in that tweet. The practical outcome of not being in the grey zone is to be able to fully separate performance and rest. Our brains use about 20% of the body’s energy [1], which is impressive since it only accounts for 2% of our total weight. Additionally, if you often tap into a flow state, let me gently remind you that flow is a neurochemically expensive state, meaning one needs to actually rest properly. The other option is getting a fried brain, so it should be an easy choice.

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Sleep

To sleep or not to sleep shouldn’t even be a question!

I’m sure it’s no news to anyone that sleeping is one of the most important things to do in life (yes). But going back to the Twitter thread, a too common reply was: “I cut on sleep.” Well, we already know how detrimental it is not sleeping enough or sleeping with poor quality. Or do we? “Sleep deprivation causes issues ranging from a 2x risk of cancer to pre-diabetic blood sugar levels to hormonal dysregulation and handicapped cognition” (King’s College London, John Hopkins and UC Berkeley) [2].

I’ve been there’ we’ve all been there and, yes, there are occasions when it’s nearly impossible to dodge that long working night. However, looking objectively at the effects, not sleeping enough is simply pointless. Additionally, you might become an unbearable human if doing this on the long term — please don’t let the consequences of over-working and poor organisation jeopardise your relationships! Let’s put our priorities where they should be and stop pretending it’s ok to sleep just a few hours consistently.

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Exercise

Exercising was one of those ‘items’ that a lot of people seem to fail. However, many others seem to be able to compensate for workouts with morning walks or running. Moving around and increasing your heart rate a bit and/or stretching should happen every day. Perhaps we ignore that our body is always giving hints of what it needs but taking care of ourselves should be the very basis of everything.

…taking care of ourselves should be the very basis of everything.

Additionally, even if it’s just 20 minutes a day (which is less than 2% of 24 hours) we all know the benefits of exercising, don’t we? Bad posture injuries occur and it’s not fun to work with an aching back and neck. Suggestions: use rendering times to stretch or do some push-ups, whatever floats your boat.

Master Engineer and Sound Designer Nathan Moody keeps a pair of hand weights in his office to lift a little during renders, bounces or upload.

Or if you take it as a separated activity “finding an activity you really enjoy,” as Corey commented on that tweet, “can be of big help to see it as something you are looking forward to doing, instead of just another task on the list.” Even if you don’t care much about a flexible spine or toned muscles, exercising has a number of benefits at the brain level. So once again, what can be seen as a time-waster, actually converges to better performance.

Now for the juicy part: let’s discuss each item I listed on that tweet. I appreciated especially those with families who contributed with their methods and choices. I don’t have kids and it’s already difficult so I can’t properly express my admiration of them.

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To Have a Private Life

While some people commented they have little time or don’t have a private life at all, or even that their clients are their closest friends. Many others have said that their private life is their priority which is simply not negotiable, and I dare to say this reaches far beyond your children. It can just be about being present for a friend. Please don’t disappear under your workload!

Many others have said that their private life is their priority which is simply not negotiable…

Nathan Moody kindly shared that he always tells his clients he does not work on weekends, as one way to set strict boundaries between work and private life. On that note, one thing Nathan wrote really hit me: “No one, and I truly mean no one, will protect your privacy or personal boundaries except yourself.”

Even though I must have read many articles discussing this, until now I’ve never seen it as ‘protecting,’ but it’s really what it is. Years ago, I worked in a retail shop, in which overtime work was non-paid or poorly compensated with a shorter workday. Daniel, one of the staff, always said no — simply saying no without a justification, no need to refer to his University classes or personal commitments. Many of the others were very afraid of consequences and were ‘yes sir’ people. Those were frequently putting in uncompensated extra time on the job, Daniel wasn’t even asked anymore and it was always respected by everyone. By looking at my private life as something I need to protect instead of taking for granted the possibility of flexing it, it makes things non-negotiable.

I wrote about setting boundaries with directors in a previous article. If you want to check it out, you will read some little horror-comedy stories with clients whose insanity I didn’t know how to manage.

..healthy social interaction is a *major* factor of good health.

Socialising on the right measure for each one of us is essential. We are human after all. Loneliness kills and healthy social interaction is a *major* factor of good health. 2020 has something very revealing to say about that…

Some things I used to do to articulate being with other people was to do minor schedule adjustments to spend time with my roommate during dinner or breakfast and have at least one evening a week disconnected from work. The rewards from switching off work mode to spend time with people we love always seemed immediate to me — not only having permission to rant but putting my thoughts somewhere else other than work or myself, but also afterwards I felt so much more relaxed and positive.

Now that we discussed the human basics that so many of us fail consistently, let’s address some ideas about work-related items.

Working as as Freelancer

1. Working for Clients
2. Working on side projects
3. Learn new things
4. Update our websites
5. Be nice and present on social media
6. Listen to other artists’ work
Practical Suggestions

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1. Working for Clients

We talk a lot about managing the client’s expectations (one of the principles Nathan Moody goes by) in order to avoid pains and regrets. I would add that we might also have to learn to manage our own. In the sound community we talk so much about “the invisible work,” the too often seen and felt lack of understanding and education about the significant role of sound. Some clients end up learning and realising how much well-crafted sound provides value to their project. I used to be the typical exaggerated, detail-orientated person, but in some projects, it didn’t pay off. Now, depending on what importance the job has to me, I can make a choice.

In the sound community we talk so much about “the invisible work”…

Months ago, I edited a podcast episode with a lot of detail. What started as a host having difficulties to comment or to ask a question without rambling and stuttering became a host with a clear speech flow. I was proud but, the thing is, he didn’t pay attention to it. So was it worth it? I don’t think so. I could have put that time into just about anything else.

…the too often seen and felt lack of understanding and education about the significant role of sound.

This led me to something really important I learned while working in Sweden: my work has value – pay me! If one’s fee would be so low, I’d have to take priorities, by making some adjustments and prioritising correctly for their expectations (but for the sake of honesty and cordiality the clients need to be aware of this).

My work clock is ticking each time I open my DAW or iZotope RX — or client’s emails for that matter. I might enjoy my work, but there is a dangerous territory of blending boundaries that I should avoid. This is not to say we don’t do the occasional extra here and there or that we don’t perform with diligence and work honesty, but we must learn how to pick our priorities, remember our value and price it accordingly.

Let’s not forget that firing clients is also an option for some. I’m not asking for a riot against clients here but I am wanting to reinforce what we all know: there is always someone that, as Lawrence Dow put it,”uses up more headspace than what it’s worth.”

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2. Working on side projects

This topic is deeply interesting to me. A lot of freelancers have side projects they expect to generate more work or future income — perhaps most of us start there. Others have their side projects for mere fun.

First to the main question: how do we manage to fit all this in when everything else already seems so difficult to handle?

Field Recordist and Sound Designer Nils Mosh said he tries to limit his side projects to two simultaneously. I can’t think of any period where I didn’t have at least a bunch of things going around at the same time. Anxiety, right?

And to point out an excellent article on the topic that Francesco Ameglio kindly shared: “the more tasks, the more tasks.” So one possible way (besides wisely limiting the number of projects we are involved in) is to articulate any activities.

Let’s take as an example the two articles about organising long field recording sessions which are just a product of my experience of near-failure to get hold of things. I would have needed to write down my method for myself anyway but, so that more people could benefit from it, I turned it into two articles which allowed me to connect to more people and share our ideas. This method – which summarises my field recording profession – has a very important factor which is profitability: being able to cross the field recordings organisation to extract segments to my SoundCloud or Instagram and to create SFX and albums to sell. In this way I am tackling promotion, SFX libraries and field recording albums almost in one go.

If I don’t face my side projects with enough seriousness they will never get finished or done properly.

When our side projects are what we want to do as a sustainable living, what should we prioritise first? This doubt always tormented me a little bit. But I have started to see myself as my own client with hopes that I can deliver according to milestones I establish. Surely, if I don’t face my side projects with enough seriousness they will never get finished or done properly.

Then the risk is to keep chasing the money of what does not make me 100% happy. I have seen lots of people disagreeing on this one: money should come first, you need stability, etc..

Well, it’s difficult to disagree 100% but that is why we try to be smart about our side projects.

The financial hit I have been struck with in 2019 only made me more aware of the importance the side projects can have on one’s life. Had I managed that better from the start, I could have been in a less bad situation. Clients come and go; my work remains.

If a side project takes one year from start until there is any sort of turnaround, it’s probably a ‘no’ for me.

One pitfall I learned to avoid was to have the side project grow into something that would require a lot of patience for me to let them be built over an extended period of time. Personally, I need quick rewards. If a side project takes one year from start until there is any sort of turnaround, it’s probably a ‘no’ for me. As I mentioned before, articulating the work really helps with this: to set milestones in the short-term from which there is an outcome; also if the final grand idea is far into the future and/or has difficult logistics, it’s crucial for me that there are parts of that project that can live on their own and not only strict to the final goal.

If side projects aren’t meant to affect your income, then there could be many other options. For Nathan Moody, there is a selective process: it could be out of the fun of it, to learn something of interest, or if it’s aligned with his values and interests. It could be anything just to get your mind out of work and have fun with.

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3. Learn new things

Despite the learning that is intrinsic to our work nearly every day – which is a good way to articulate things – there are pieces and curiosities we like to attend. I’d say that working in an artistic profession that is bound to technology, it’s pretty much mandatory to keep ourselves updated. And many of us also have unrelated interests. Audio engineer and composer Marisa Ewing-Moody said she reserves an hour to teach herself new things.

Many people learn by reading articles during breakfast. I know some might not find this essential and due to lack of time, this takes place only during and because of work. But if it’s one priority for me, I will schedule it when I find it fits in my calendar. I used to learn drawing by myself at night and I found this took my mind out of everything else and it helped me wind down. To you, it can be anything else: watching documentaries or reading can simultaneously take your mind off work and teach you something of interest.

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4. Update our websites

I wish I could have traced a statistic for comedic purposes but this could give an idea:

LiveAsFreelancer_sound_02

Who doesn’t relate? It seems that there is a tendency to put effort and time into the website when we need new clients, wherever we are in our careers. When work engulfs us, it’s one of the last priorities of many to update online (hi!). I agree with the opinion that there is something nice about having your own website, especially nowadays with more remote work coming through. But it doesn’t always have to be this way, actually. Dialogue Editor Kelly Pieklo said that now he relies more on word of mouth. That, ultimately, is very effective, I think.

But, there are two very important things for most freelancers:

1) Have your reel readily available to show to potential clients. Even if the website is longing to be updated, always have that reference at hand. It’s better than stressing out about finding it, and feeling regret for not updating it. This is just another stressful situation to avoid and it drains energy.

2) The professional title should be clear, easily seen and strict to the point: sound designer, dialogue editor, re-recording mixer, whatever it is. Just mak sure when a potential client visits your website, they know what you do.

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5. Be nice and present on social media

It’s the beauty and the beast in one go. A lot of us in the sound community find Twitter a wonderful resource of support, knowledge, cats and sometimes a place for discussion about work ethics, techniques and the very present fabulous humour.

Obviously, it can get mixed with politics, and during current times, it’s almost impossible to avoid it. Unfollowing or muting people that either annoy me or don’t bring anything useful to my timeline is the way to go for me. I think that just like with other activities it’s a matter of being selective.

[social media] can be a great place to both promote our work and to discover new artists.

I wrote ‘be nice’ because that is the best way to use it, in my opinion: it can be a great place to both promote our work and to discover new artists. As I mention below in detail, I limit the time of exposure, try to be objective with it and don’t let it distract me too much.

I make exceptions, if that’s how I decide to spend some time or if it’s the US elections. However, I really try to control the impulses of grabbing the phone and scrolling.

(More on that below, where I share some specific ideas to balance our lives with work.)

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6. Listen to other artists’ work

Honestly, I wish this was one of my top priorities after the basics. For me, it is extremely relevant to feel inspired, to listen to new ideas and new sounds. I suppose it’s relevant for many of us and yet some of the people who are able to do this often have to resort to multi-tasking to do so: cooking or running paired with new music or a field recording work. It’s understandable that this is often on the bottom of the list but if I tackled the other items well enough there is at least one hour each week I can put into it. One hour out of 168.

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Practical Suggestions

Below there are some practical suggestions that I’m hoping to be very useful to you as they are to me.

Virtual declutter:

• Cleaning the computer desktop and the downloads folder once a week. If my projects’ folders got messed up, I try to fix that as well and then I start to backup.

• Unsubscribe to the substantial amount of useless newsletters that keep piling up or those who I never ended up reading, even if it’s hard to admit. I found this actually relieved a lot of time of my day, each day.

• Do finances paperwork at least once a month.

Organising work & life:

• Making lists and having a calendar. So many people commented that listing their tasks is of major help. Keeping things structured, putting them on paper to free some headspace to focus on the actual tasks. Many seem to use Trello to articulate a lot of information; I like using the Elisi app that integrates a calendar, task lists, loose notes and a financial tab. I also do Bullet Journaling but this is very personal; writing by hand is like a small ritual and I like to look at it and adjust it in the morning, over coffee.

• Write down other tasks that are important: listen to my friend’s new recording or reading an article someone has sent and actually allocate time for those. I like to set a day every week to go through those.

Focus:

• Turn off all distractions: making sure the people around me don’t interrupt my working schedule; phone is away, unnecessary tabs are closed. Getting distracted frequently takes away any possibility of entering the flow state and disrupts the work. Likely, I turn off what makes me distracted when I need to work (basically client’s messages or emails).

● Discovering that I feel better with just 1 or 2 projects at most everyday instead of switching tabs between several in smaller chunks of time. For you, it can be just the opposite.

● Taking control of my time. Following Video Editor and Sound Designer Kristina Morss’ suggestion, I started to use Toggl. Developing the habit of understanding how much time I put into different projects has shown me where I need to get better. Sometimes, to my surprise, I work a lot and only realise it after I look at the tracker.

● Nathan Moody has developed a rule for his workflow in which any specific task needs to be allocated on a 2 hours slot “even if it takes me 30 minutes, I need to pad that for mistakes, context shifting, unforseen phone calls, getting up to stretch and just have a brain break, etc.”

● There are difficult days where I just can’t focus for whatever reason. If it happens that I am not tormented with a deadline I actually give myself a break for at least some hours, sometimes into the next day. It’s not the end of the world and probably there is something else it needs processing.

Sanity:

● One thing that has made an impactful difference for me is to set small milestones for each working day, making sure they are obtainable. Having those milestones reached gives me a big feeling of satisfaction and, I may say, relief.

• Taking notes of any idea I have in any area of my life. They pop up as often as I forget them. So usually I have a little notebook with me.

• Setting real time apart from social media. The scrolling doom, right? This year I found myself picking up my phone at every instance my hands weren’t occupied. It felt like an addiction. Now I set at least 2 days a week where I am simply absent from social media. I schedule another day for posting and promotion. The other days I reserve about 20 minutes to 1 hour of social media mostly to reply to tweets or messages and to check what the sound community is up to.

• Saying ‘no’ straight away. This does not come apart from side projects but it helped so much. It was instant weight off. Of course, this is for projects that didn’t have significant importance when I look at my goals.

Recently, I also quit announcing release dates, or that I’d reply to someone or an email on the same day. This is extremely difficult for me to control, so the less to-do tasks I give myself to do, the better I feel. It doesn’t mean I don’t set deadlines, or that I have a corrupted level of compromise, but I often wonder that maybe “I’ll answer you later today” was more of a reflex than an actual intention.

It’s actually rare to fill in every checkbox of these strategies every day.

It’s not at all that I do this 100% and have everything under control. It’s actually rare to fill in every checkbox of these strategies every day. But keeping consistency on most of them just made my days much easier.

But keeping consistency on most of them just made my days much easier.

However, what has been more important to me was to understand on what schedule I work best — when I’m able to focus and feel more energetic.

This is non-negotiable even to myself: the drive of working in the early morning is so impactful that not doing it causes me anxiety. Shortly after I wake up, I want to start. Even today, if I wake up at 9, it feels like I wasted hours of productive work because at around 3-4 pm my mind is too scattered to focus. This is why the popular morning routine is deeply personal. When I tried to meditate or exercise or journaling, etc., before anything else I was filled with anxiety. I cannot recommend enough for you to try and find what is your focus time, especially if you have trouble concentrating. I do. I just can’t choose when to focus and it’s always something else that comes into play: either enthusiasm for something and novelty (or that extremely urgent export).

Another small but significant change for me was to consume around 30 grams of protein in my first meal. It really avoided the sugar crash and I felt my energy quite stable for 3-4 hours.

It looks like one thing is clear: neglecting the basic needs (sleep, exercise, outdoors, work) will always backfire and wreck every other item. And you!

Another small but significant change for me was to consume around 30 grams of protein in my first meal.

I really hope this article can help any of its readers. I know there are structural changes that would be needed in the industry to facilitate our balance between work and private life, but some of us can push for those changes by acting honestly within boundaries. This article took 13h32m to write, plus an unknown amount of time that I forgot to log, delivered a few days later than what I initially planned, because of extra work that popped up and one of those days of no concentration to work. I still took some time off from work every evening and reserved half an hour almost everyday to exercise, and slept an average of 7.5 hours each night. It’s not perfect but instead of a void of anxiety, I feel alright. Thank you so much to everyone that used their precious time to contribute!

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Disclaimer: I can’t stress enough that the majority of everything written in this article comes with privilege. Many families and people around the world can’t even afford to have space in their minds whether to prioritise their side projects or to feed their families. The system is deeply unfair and the idea that you can achieve it all can quickly become a dangerous place of division since often it does not recognize class and racial struggle.

This is only one of the reasons why it’s so important to make time to appreciate other artists’ work.

[1] https://time.com/5400025/does-thinking-burn-calories/
[2] https://www.stevenkotler.com/

A big thanks to Melissa Pons for giving us a look into living as a freelancer! Learn more about her and her work here

 

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• How to set your sonic creativity free & overcome creative inhibitions – by Mark Kilborn

• 5 Useful Tips for Upcoming Sound Designers and Sound Editors

• Sound Opinions: How to get game audio pricing right

• Building a successful audio post studio – with Kate Finan and Jeff Shiffman

• Rebuilding your studio: Goals, tips and lessons learned

• Creating audio for games – with Martin Stig Andersen

• A life in sound: How to foster creativity and protect yourself from burning out – with Chance Thomas

• Better audio work habits: How a Wacom Tablet can help reduce the risk of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

• Better audio work habits: How a sit & standing desk can reduce your sedentary studio life

• Tips and thoughts on running your own audio post production house – with William McGuigan

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• 7 Sound Alternatives to Working For Free

• Audio Outsourcing Success: Essential Tips, Thoughts and Working Practices from Adele Cutting

 
 
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• The Composer Success Series: Composing for Film – ft. Pinar Toprak, Nainita Desai, & Jonathan Snipes

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• Freelance Game Audio: Getting Started and finding work – by Ashton Morris

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Networking:
 
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Coping with a layoff - and how to bounce back:

• How to prepare for – and power through – a layoff in the game audio industry, with Brian Schmidt:

• How to Survive a Game Audio Layoff – insights from Damian Kastbauer

• What it’s like to be laid off from your video game studio

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• Facebook Group: Survival Skills for Creatives
 
 
Education and knowledge:
 
• Get an audio mentor at the Audio Mentoring Project

• How To Learn Game Audio Online – A talk with Game Audio Educator Leonard Paul

• Hear the very best podcasts about sound

• Read the 100s of sound stories and guides on the A Sound Effect blog (search for stories here)

• Browse Industry Data: Game Music and Sound Design Salary Survey Results

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• Get tips and ideas for making your own sound effects

• Use the Audio Events Calendar to find audio-related events around the globe

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• Discover 1000s of sound libraries from the independent sound community

• Take online courses in Wwise, FMOD Studio, Unity, Pure Data & Unreal at the School of Video Game Audio
 
 
Getting into independent sound effects:
 
• DIY SFX libraries - Your guide to your first sound effects library

• Sound effects survey results: Here are 90+ ideas for new SFX libraries

• How to create an indie sound bundle

• The quick-start guide to adding sound FX library metadata


 
 
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  • Animal Sound Effects The Animal Symphony – Watusi Play Track 183 sounds included, 10 mins total $12

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