When "down time" has you down...

My name is Kate Puckett, and when it comes to my music, I am a workaholic.

When I go to a show, simply to enjoy the show, I think about how much I'd rather be up on stage, playing that show.

When I am on vacation, I think about all of the things I should be doing to further my career.

When I am trying to sleep, my brain is reminding me of everything I need to do tomorrow, next week, and even months from now.

When I'm not sending out emails, I am thinking about sending out emails. Heck, even as I type this blog post, I am thinking about emails I should be sending.

 

I admit it...I have a problem. In a society that praises being busy and productive, how does one have "Down time" without feeling that pressure and anxiety? Timing has both of its feet pressed down on the break while my brain is hitting the gas. All I want to do is continue to move forward at the same pace, but I'm just causing my own wheels to spin, adding more and more stress to myself, where it doesn't need to be.

 

I just came back from a non-business trip to New York City. It was incredible... I love New York, but my mind never left Nashville.  All I could think about was "What am I missing while I'm here?" We walked down Times Square, and artists were handing out their CDs to strangers on the street. It only made me want to get back to the grind in Nashville.

 

We just had a run of great shows, with about a month scheduled in between to record the new single. I'm not in the studio every day, and there are no meetings scheduled. There's not much going on for a month, and that has been difficult for me. I know most people look forward to breaks; They can't wait to sit back and focus on self-care and relaxation. I want to be that person. I want to be able to recharge when the opportunity presents itself, but I struggle with not being busy. Until I became a solo artist, I never realized how much of my self-worth was tied up in how much I have going on with my music... On how busy I am.

 

Sure, we have shows lined up after a month to look forward to, but there's something about gearing up for weeks for a big show, then not having anything to do for a few weeks after that. Performing is what brings me joy, and I am constantly chasing that high. Even meetings bring me joy because I just love to talk about music. I love everything about it. Not doing those things is difficult. Down time literally makes me feel down.

 

So in the meantime, I sit at my computer sending out emails, waiting for a reply. I sit at my piano, waiting on the perfect chorus melody to come to me. I contact venues, waiting on confirmation. I look at my social media, waiting for something that's worth sharing to happen. Everything in my life right now involves waiting, and for me, waiting = non-productivity. Non-productivity = the risk of failure.

Failure = anxiety.

Anxiety = burnout.

Burnout = non-productivity.  

And it goes back to the beginning of the cycle.

 

So how does one escape that cycle?

I'm still learning. I'm trying to find that balance of pushing myself to be productive, and resting in the down times so I have enough energy when things do pick up again. It's hard to do, especially when the only one breathing down your neck to do more is yourself. I really believe that finding the root of my anxiety is a huge step to finding that balance, though. Having some down time isn't the end of the world. Not knowing what to do next is an opportunity to pause and learn more. Down time may, in fact, be a gift to prepare you for some big things that are in store.