Are You Over Stretching Yourself
One of the mantras banded about by life’s ‘mindful’ people is “You need to get your work / life balance right”. And I know from painful personal experience that this is very true. But it’s one of those things that is much easier to say than do. If we don’t work enough, we don’t earn enough money to live; if we work too much, there’s a whole heap of things that can suffer – sometimes resulting in dire consequences.
DJs fall into two distinct camps: the full-timers, those whose DJing provides their sole income; and the part-timers, those who have a so called ‘normal job’ during the day and DJ at weekends or evenings. I am not here to pass judgement on anyone, we all have to do what we need to do, and I think the issue of work / life balance is just as relevant regardless of which camp you currently sit in.
For full-time DJs, who rely on their DJ work to pay their bills, it can be very tempting to say yes to almost every booking that comes along. You feel that you need to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ just in case the enquiries dry up in the future. However, this means that you run the risk of overworking yourself and not having quality time left to spend on anything (or anyone) else. The situation is a bit different for part-timers, as you don’t feel the same financial pressure. However if you’re working full-time during the day, every booking you take is effectively eating into your leisure time. This means that, even if you are picky about which events you book, it can still be very easy to find yourself overdoing it.
As DJs, we all have big egos – it’s almost a pre-requisite of the job! That means we love having a full diary as at our events we are the centre of the party, we make everything happen, it releases all those endorphins that make us feel good. I suppose it is like a drug! But what are the consequences of this on our health and home life?
Some of you know my story, most of you don’t, but I was one of those DJs who said yes to every booking I was offered. At my peak I was involved in 450+ events every year. Most other DJs thought I had the life of riley! The money was very good and I was the life and soul of endless parties, but taking on so much work had serious negative effects. My health deteriorated and my home life was awful. In the end something happened in my personal life that meant I had to make serious changes, but with hindsight I should have paid more attention to my work / life balance long before that point.
So, if you haven’t already, I’d like to challenge you to take a long hard look at your work / life balance and perhaps make a few important changes. I’m not going to tell you what to change – as that’s down to you and your individual situation. But I would like to point out a couple of the areas that often suffer at the expense of a busy DJ career:
Those of us who are family men (or women), with partners and children, need to ask ourselves if we spend enough quality time with our loved ones? Have you ever put your partner’s birthday meal off to a day when you weren’t DJing? Or cancelled going to an important family celebration so that you could take a last-minute gig? Or missed important moments in your children’s lives while you were out DJing? I know I did.
At the moment there is a movement of DJs pioneering the all-day wedding hosting concept, and I am part of that movement. But it’s important to remember that these weddings are normally on Saturdays and Sundays, which is prime family time. Where DJs were once able to spend their Saturdays with their family before heading out to a gig in the late afternoon, many are now leaving at the crack of dawn and not returning until the early hours of the following morning. If you don’t make the effort to balance this by carving out quality time at another point in the week, it could have a very serious impact on your family.
The negative effects can be just as significant, or even worse, when you are at home. Imagine this situation: you have bookings that need prepping for the weekend and your partner wants to talk or your children want to play. Is your response likely to be something along the lines of, “give me x amount of time to finish this first”? If so, the message that you are subliminally conveying to them may be: my work is more important than you are! (At least at that particular moment.)
Especially if you have young children, these years are valuable. Trust me, I speak from experience when I say you will never get those moments back. In a recent interview, the legendary David Attenborough was asked if he had any regrets from his long and adventure-packed life. He answered instantly, “I should have spent more time with my wife and children.”
Just look at the number of DJs around today who have broken relationships behind them. I know countless DJs (myself included) whose marriages ended in divorce due – at least in part – to the stain caused by DJ commitments eroding family time. If you haven’t fallen into this trap yet, ask yourself: have I ever been too stressed to show my family the love and respect they deserve? If the answer is yes, perhaps it’s time to make some changes before it’s too late…
I saw a social media post by a DJ recently recounting how much work he had done over the weekend and somebody commented that sleep was overrated anyway. I know the comment was made tongue-in-cheek, but sleep is definitely not overrated, it is in fact essential. There’s a chocolate bar whose slogan is ‘Work, Rest & play’, but I think that ‘sleep’ should be added in there too, as rest and sleep are not the same thing. If you are surviving on minimal sleep, not only will it impact on your family – we all know tiredness and irritability go hand in hand – but it may also have adverse effects on your health.
Then there’s the subject of diet to consider. Go to any DJ show or meeting and you’ll find a disproportionate number of overweight people (I am in this category too). Over the festive period DJs brag on social media about the number of Christmas dinners they have consumed and #djfood post-gig usually involves burger, kebab, or some other form of fast food. Over a prolonged period of time, this kind of diet can have serious health consequences.
Exercise is another essential for a healthy lifestyle that many DJs struggle to work into their daily and weekly routines due to the time taken by DJing as well as the associated admin and gear prep. Yes, we carry heavy gear to and from our vehicles, but when it comes to decent cardio most of us struggle to make the time.
Get The Balance Right
Lack of proper rest, sleep, a decent diet and regular exercise will have a toll on your health and well-being in the long run, while overworking is also likely to impact your personal relationships. My advice, make some changes now before it’s too late – that’s what I’ve tried to do.
I’m still not perfect, but I have drastically reduced the number of bookings I take on, focussing on quality over quantity. At the beginning of each year I block out important family occasions and time for holidays – I consider these ‘set in stone’. I also make sure my wife and I have a weekly date night so we can spend quality time with each other. Finally, I make sure that there are a few hours each evening when I close my laptop, put my phone on ‘do not disturb’ and switch off from work: this is family time!
Recently I was looking after my granddaughter for a few days and, while she was playing and watching Peppa Pig, I let things slip and thought I could deal with some emails. My granddaughter looked at me, brought her toys over and said, “Gaga you can play with me”. This gave me a wakeup call and I said to myself, “yes I can” and put down my phone.
Be honest with yourself: is your work / life balance where it should be? Do you spend quality time with your family, when your focus is on them and your mind doesn’t wander to work? Are you looking after yourself, eating more than just junk food, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly? If not, do you need to make changes? My advice is to take this seriously and make manageable steps towards getting your balance right. If you don’t, you may live to regret it.
Pro Mobile equipment reviews are sponsored by insure4music, insure your gear today and save 10% off your quote - from just £22.50 a year.
The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 88, Pages 38-40.