Three days ago, the dust had settled from my third Road Rally and the familiar bite of reality was taking hold. The Rally was informative and inspiring, but reality was crowding out music just like it did last year. I couldn’t find enough time to work on my music, let alone spend time on the forum that Michael said was so valuable. Life was about to get the best of me again, until I came up with a plan to stop it in its tracks. The short version is, ‘Be deliberate.’ For those of you willing to read on, let’s go through this together. Life is hard. We all have full lives looking for islands of time for music, but usually steam on with no land in sight. Here are a few personal stats: Full-time job running a computer network (1 hour commute each way).MarriedThree kids (17, 14, 9) involved in music, sports, etc.HomeownerMy typical day involves going to work, getting home by 5:30 p.m., eating together as a family, and then getting everyone where they need to be. We finish-up around 10:00 p.m., get the kids to bed around 10:30 p.m. and the rest of the night is ours. After taking some time to sit, debrief and reconnect with my wife, we go to bed around 11:30 p.m.About once a week, there’s a night that I’m able to spend some time in my studio. Half of that time is usually spent thinking about how I need to make this time count, because I don’t know when I’ll get another chance. I’ve found that to be a great way to suck all the creativity out of my head. I tell myself that maybe the weekend will be better…Ha! The weekend fills up with our kid’s concerts, sporting events and practices. The house needs attention with lawn care, trimming bushes, raking leaves, painting, fixing leaky toilets, etc. Oh, and I better change the oil on the cars. Then there’s church on Sunday.Date night? Not this week. The weekend ends and work welcomes me back with its seemingly tight grip.On the surface, there’s no room for music in my schedule (or probably yours). How depressing. But I didn’t examine every minute of my days, did I? When I did, I stuck gold. Here’s my plan:Analyze everything and choose music whenever possible. Keep what’s important to you, but think like a songwriter every minute possible and trim out the fat. Most evenings, the only time I see my kids is at supper and when I’m in the car driving them to one of their events, so for me, that time is sacred and not negotiable. That same family has gotten pretty used to food, shelter, and clothing, so my work needs to be done well so I don’t get fired. Getting my hands dirty feels good, conserves our limited budget and, as a bonus, sometimes great song ideas show up when I’m working around the house. After all that, what time do I have left?Short-term, I can let some things go in order to meet a deadline, but short-term is not what I’m concerned with here. I’m talking about a way to make music fit my life every day without my wife divorcing me, my kids going on drugs, getting fired from my job, and my house falling apart around me. Trying to live on 3 hours of sleep a night works for about a week, but then I’m no good to anyone.So, for day to day living, we have squeezed every drop of time out of our evenings and weekends. This is where I usually get frustrated and resign myself to the fact that music just doesn’t fit in my life right now and maybe I could try again when the kids are grown. But, I’m still filling notebooks with song ideas. I’m still dreaming music. It’s still so much a part of me that I can’t live without it. I knew there had to be a way to make it work. I found the way on the flight home from the Rally— Sempre Delibero (always deliberate). This means to trim the fat out of my day and be deliberate in everything. In the evenings, we are a lean, mean, family machine with only occasional moments of freedom to pursue music, so I left that part of the day alone. I need six to eight hours of sleep a night, so I blocked that time out. That leaves the occasional weekend day or night and my full-time job.Some of my most creative moments happen when I’m in the shower or performing menial labor, but this isn’t always the case. When I cut the lawn, I might develop a song idea for that hour, and that’s really cool. Or, I might have the Brady Bunch theme song run through my head again and again for that same hour. If I release my brain completely, I have no idea which way it will go. Will it be a new song? Will it be Brady Bunch? Being deliberate, I discovered that if I give my brain a topic or a title before doing something like taking a shower or cutting the lawn, it runs with it. Really. Try it. Now I have productive, deliberate time for at least 15 minutes every day in the shower and a lot more every week when I cut the lawn, rake leaves, paint, or whatever. I have a notepad and recorder nearby and the time has been fruitful.Well, that’s at least 15 minutes a day, which is a start, but I want more. I found it in my every day. During my commute, my brain works like when I’m cutting the lawn (but I dodge pedestrians instead of poop from the neighbor’s dog). If I give my brain a topic, it develops it. In addition, if I remind myself that I am a songwriter, I see the world like a songwriter. Something said on the radio would make a great title. A billboard sparks my creativity. Another driver gets me thinking about an idea for a song. Commuting sounds give me a melody, etc.Another way to be deliberate on the commute is to analyze songs on the radio/CD/mp3 player instead of just mindlessly singing along or listening to talk radio. Okay, now I have 2 hours and 15 minutes a day, but is there more? What about my time at work? Running a computer network requires flexibility and my time is not my own, but there are busy and slow times in every day. How am I using the slow times? Well, looking at an average day, there is fat to trim. If you’re like me, you don’t spend every minute of every day on essential work-related activities. For example, I started this dissertation during my lunch hour, handled a few work-related “interruptions,” and am still at it an hour later. I have tasks that need to be done every day. I have emergencies that demand my attention. But I can usually take care of all of that and still have time to devote to music. Where’s the fat? Let’s start with email? After the Rally, I came back to nearly 800 messages. Only about 50 of those messages were important and work related. About 600 of them were junk making all the usual false promises. About 100 of them were music related. The rest were things I subscribed to (New York Times online, consumer reviews, car emails, tech gear, product recalls, etc). Here are the time wasters. I could spend an hour chasing links from the New York Times alone. I’m very interested in cars and technology, and some of those emails could grab my attention for quite a while, too. I am now very deliberate when checking my email. I don’t read the news anymore. I catch up on current events by watching 5 minutes of headline news every day. I ignore car and technology emails and have stopped reading periodicals like Road & Track and Autoweek. Honestly, this has trimmed at least 90 minutes of fat out of my day. I average about 30 minutes a day on personal calls. Since my revelation, I cut that down to 15 minutes. I’m not a big socializer, but I see it at work. Some people here can easily spend an hour talking about deep topics like who got booted from Dancing with the Stars, or complaining about someone else at the office. Where’s your time being wasted? Be honest.Wow! Four extra hours on an average day. With that and two hours of being deliberate during tasks on the weekend, I have 22 extra hours a week that I can devote to living like a songwriter. Well, there’s my answer. Are you being deliberate during every minute of every day? I thought I was because of how streamlined and full our evenings are, but look at what else I found.I didn’t think I had an hour to spend on the Taxi forum, but now I do. I have time to read materials like Billboard (free from the public library), software manuals, and other songwriting and production materials. Other days, I can work on song ideas and rewrites. Then, when time allows in the evenings, I can get right to work in my studio and lay down my sounds. I’m excited to go to work now, because four hours of it is centered on music. Just this week at work, I’ve been soaking up the wisdom on the Taxi forum (and have already learned a lot), read Billboard, wrote this, started reading the Sonar 7 user’s guide, and listened to the CD Adam Watts gave out. I’m trying to be realistic and am not expecting this to be easy, so I need your help. I have lots of questions that I know you can help answer, but I’m reading past forum posts first to avoid asking redundant questions. My plan is to have at least one new submission every month to Taxi. I vow to check in here at least once a month. Will you be there to keep me accountable? Will you do it with me? It’s about time. Let’s go.