Posts Tagged ‘time management’

Perpetual Overwhelm

October 8, 2013

Monday October 7th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

My days are getting more and more packed, and there’s no relief in sight. My phone is ringing constantly to the point I leave it shut off most of the time, and I don’t know how to handle it. I’m in a state of perpetual overwhelm, and even though I’m working hard I’m always falling behind.

I start my days with the best of intentions, and then that phone rings and it’s almost always bad news or something I hadn’t planned for to distract me. I’ve got several energy vampires to dodge that just can’t seem to understand that I’m very busy most of the time and need to get work done.

I try extremely hard to be polite, but that doesn’t work. They’ll keep calling and then scold me for not picking up when I do call them back – and I try to call everyone back at some point. I am often several days or even longer in doing it, but I never try to blow anyone off. I know what that feels like, and it’s not pleasant. But courtesy only goes so far, and this is becoming a big hassle.

I love to hang out and chew the fat and all that, but when there are things to do that earn me my living, I can’t afford that luxury. My phone is a business tool, and I have a limited amount of free time with too many people who want to use it for unimportant chatter. I have reached saturation.

Not everyone who calls me is a pain in the ass, and in fact most people aren’t. Most times I am delighted to hear from those that take time to call, and am flattered they thought of me in the first place. It’s just that I can’t call everyone back in a timely fashion, and that tends to insult people.

“Hey, you can make time to call ME back can’t you?” Everyone says that, and no I can’t. I try as hard as I can to get back to everybody, but between that and the constantly growing email pile and the activities of life itself it just exceeds my human capabilities. I need a secretary yesterday.

The way I’ve been handling it of late is to just leave my phone shut off. That’s not professional in the long run, and I do get important business calls mixed in with the time suckers who want to jibber jabber for an hour about nothing. I can’t predict who is going to call when, and it’s a mess.

Another hassle is the time schedule people call. Most of my business comes from comedians or comedy bookers, and that tends to be a night time activity 99% of the time. I never try to call any comedians before noon, and most comedians return that favor. Bookers sometimes call a little bit earlier, but rarely before 10. That’s acceptable – especially when they are calling with bookings.

Then there’s the group of clueless pinheads who crank up calls at 7am because that’s how they roll. They’re early risers, and expect everyone else to be up doing jumping jacks and pushups at 5am like the Marine Corps. This is a great way to get me to ignore you, so please don’t call then.

Part of this problem exists because I am just not a phone person by nature. I’d rather exchange an email or even a text when possible, as it tends to get to the point faster. A six word text often contains as much pertinent information as a ten minute phone call. Over a whole day, it adds up.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be famous. I’m having a hard enough time keeping track of everything now. Time is a valuable commodity, and I’ve got all I can handle to manage mine.

Boy, ain't this the truth.

Boy, ain’t this the truth.


Punting The Packers

September 17, 2013

Sunday September 15th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Sorry, O mighty Green Bay Packers. As much as I’d like to give you three hours of my Sunday afternoons five months a year, I’m choosing to cut you loose. I’ll still cheer for you and care a lot more than you do if you win or lose, but I’ve got other things to do than piss away valuable time.

I didn’t get to watch the game last week, but losing to San Francisco just like they did last year was all I needed to hear. When I heard they had lost, I was delighted I didn’t invest all afternoon watching. Does that make me a fair weather fan? Too bad. My life is hard enough without that.

As a productive alternative, I chose instead to use my afternoon to get some work done for me for a change. I’m always running around doing something for someone else, and fail to attend to my own needs. That’s why I tend to be so painfully behind in so many areas. I need time for me.

Today I spent those three hours I would have been watching the Packers play posting a master list of articles I wrote about starting out in standup comedy on Facebook groups of local comics all over America. I’d been meaning to get to it for a while now, and today I finally got it done.

The articles are posted at They are designed for the beginner in their first year or two of the comedy journey, and I put a lot of effort into writing them these last few months. For those who choose to read them, they can provide valuable help.

I’m not charging one penny for the articles, and I’m sure some will think they’re worth exactly that or less. That’s to be expected, but smart eyes will read them and immediately know that I’ve been through the wars and can offer insight that’s relevant and spot on to someone starting today.

It took a while to get it all done, but by the end of the day I’d posted articles on about twenty or so Facebook comedian group pages all over the United States and Canada. I introduced myself to the group and explained that I’m a veteran comic with decades of hands on experience that didn’t receive much help when I started out so I’m offering it to others because I think it’s good karma.

That’s exactly why I do it, even though most veteran comedians think I’m a complete imbecile for giving away so much information without charging for it. I think it’s smart business, as it will get passed around a lot more than if I sold it and in the long run it helps make the business better.

Hopefully, it will help make opening acts better a lot faster so when they work with headliners the whole show will be better. That’s the goal, and it felt great to send out those articles and have all kinds of newbies write back and say thanks. I would have killed for this when I was starting.

I’ll keep cranking these articles out, and hope I develop a following of up and coming aspiring comedy writers and performers for years to come. I want to be an inspiration to people after I’m dead, and today was a nice way to start. I made a lot of headway, and got my name out to many.

The Packers ended up stomping the Washington Redskins 38-20, but I’m fine with missing all of it. My friend Mark Gumbinger has a man cave in Kenosha and invited me over as usual, but it takes 45 minutes to get there and back, not counting the game. I can’t spare that time right now.

A Slap In The Facebook

September 12, 2013

Tuesday September 10th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Success in life not only is about who a person knows, but how one develops each relationship. It requires constant maintenance, and there are always those checking in and out like the players in a basketball game. Everyone’s time is limited, so there needs to be a plan in place to succeed.

I’ve been going over my extensive list of contacts lately, and that’s another area of my life that can use a total overhaul. I haven’t had much of a plan, and it shows. With just a little solid effort, I feel ultra confident I can improve my life significantly in a relatively short time and I plan on it.

Today was a perfect example. I got on Facebook and checked the list of who else was on at the time and instant messaged about twenty people I hadn’t talked to in a long time. I popped in for a quick second to say hello, and every one of them answered back within a few minutes and said it was good to hear from me. It wasn’t invasive, and in fact quite a pleasant experience all around.

Most of them were other comedians, and a few others I’d worked with in radio. There wasn’t a reason to contact them other than to say hello, but the point is I made the effort. Who couldn’t do the exact same thing with a more targeted list of people on a consistent basis to build a network?

I thought I’d been pretty good at staying in contact with people through the years, but I can get a whole lot better. Facebook is an amazing tool, or at least it has the potential to be amazing. It’s always a matter of what one does with a tool that determines results, and I see a need to improve.

I’ve managed to acquire close to the 5000 friend limit on Facebook, but I can’t really say how I did it. I didn’t actively set out to do that, it just kind of happened. People would send me requests and I would say yes. I requested people to be my friends, and they said yes. There was no plan in place, but eventually I got up to 5000. Stragglers come and go, but it’s always right around there.

I was looking through my contact list today, trying to categorize where everyone came from so I can figure out the best way to stay in contact without being a pest. I like the idea of newsletters, but I don’t want to invade people’s privacy. There’s a delicate balance, and I never want to cross the line from friend or acquaintance to cyber psycho. Once that line is crossed, the game is over.

I see all kinds of wackadoos on Facebook who over post in my opinion, and I never want to be one of those. I don’t care about your melon headed kid’s first tee ball game, and care even less to see a picture of the guacamole you had for lunch or with whom you ate it. Does anybody care?

There are more than seven BILLION people these days, and America has only the third highest population. If I made a dozen contacts a day – a pretty high number – it wouldn’t make a dent if I did it seven days a week for fifty years. I have to carefully choose who I spend my time with, but the good news is I can make that choice. It’s time to make a list of my most prioritized contacts.

I do need to weed out a few time vampires, but everyone has those. Let them bother somebody else. I’m going to go around them, and focus on those I need to be in contact with and start from there. Doing what I did today gave me hope, and I could tell right away it was the right decision. The Facebooks and LinkedIns of the world have their downsides, but they’re still valuable tools.

A Team Scheme

May 1, 2013

Tuesday April 30th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I haven’t been able to stop thinking about ‘Schlitz Happened!’ since Saturday night. I thought I could let it sit until fall, but that’s not going to be the case at all. There are too many details to be looked after, and even though I won’t do any performances for a while I still need to improve on every aspect of it on stage and off. I’m not going to let myself flub this project like I have others.

   There was a very nice build throughout the entire month of April, but I guarantee the next time it runs I’ll have it at a much higher level in every facet. I have some good people on my team that I know will have input I can use to keep polishing this chunk of raw coal into a shiny diamond.

   In addition to the people I already thanked, I forgot to mention others like Todd Hunt who was kind enough to offer to listen to the recordings of my first shows and make notes. Todd’s insights are always welcomed, and I’m sure his input will take root immediately. That’s just one source.

   Art Hinty came out to the final show this last Saturday, and he’s as sharp as they come when it comes to tweaking and punching up existing ideas. He’s a newspaper reporter by trade, and he’s been a great source of ideas and realistic input on most of the stunts I’ve tried to pull off of late.

   Art has a real grasp of the real world, and he’s another one I listen to with reverence. He’ll put a heaping ladle full of solid ideas into the stew pot, and he already has. We went out to eat after the last show, and he gave me the thumbs up as far as a show concept but also loaded me down with some useful structure details from a writer’s viewpoint and he was dead on with his notes.

   Mark Fenske is another friend that took time to come up from Chicago to see the show. He has lived in L.A. for years, and did some acting as well as standup comedy. He went to school to be a director, and he sat through two shows and made some notes as well. I’ll take all I can from all of these sources, and also keep making my own notes as I go. I already feel a lot of positive growth.

   Then there’s the off stage side of it. I need to keep working with Mark Filwett on website stuff, as content creation is always crucial. I’ll need to create products too, and also keep reading up on all things older Milwaukee so I can expand what I already have going. This will also take work.

   I don’t mind working, but my question is what’s the right work to be doing at a given time? It’s always a time management issue, and I don’t want to waste a second this late into the game. I am always biting off more than I can chew, so I’ll either need to start chewing or spit something out.

   I also need to start delegating a whole lot more or I’ll never get anywhere with anything. I just can’t do everything, and I’m proving that every day. Making myself the project leader of several teams is the way to go, and that’s what I’m going to do. There’s no way I can do it all by myself.

   As of now, ‘Team Schlitz’ is operating pretty smoothly. I have the people I need in place to get what I need for the immediate future, and I have a clear idea of who I need to engage after that to keep things moving. If I didn’t have so much other stuff going, I’m sure I’d be able to pull it off.

   The trick now is to get all the teams running like this, but I’m not there by a long shot. I have a lot of scattered and half baked projects that could be working smoothly but just aren’t because of my admitted lack of focus. I do believe this is all doable though, and it’s a matter of creating one big master plan with a lot of little mini plans woven in. It won’t be easy, but what in life ever is?