A Multi-Hyphenate Voice Over Life

Voicing, Singing, Coaching, Oh My!

As a talent in today’s world, do you ever feel like the ultimate multi-hyphenate when someone asks, “What do you do?” After many years, my response has pared down to, “Voiceover talent, singer, on-camera actor, and coach.” The other titles I tend to leave out are entrepreneur, producer, wife, mom, musician, opera singer, jazz singer, recording artist, as well as momager, editor, and booth director to my two kids. 

This has many folks wondering, how do today’s multi-hyphenate creatives juggle it all? 

A professional multi-hyphenate career doesn’t happen overnight. It takes many years of slowly chipping away at creative goals, while maintaining a professional level of talent across disciplines. Being a multi-hyphenate is not about juggling hobbies and side-hustles, and it cannot be defined with just one job title. 

As times and technology continue to change at a rapid pace, the creative talent pool has evolved into a one-stop shop for clients, who need projects done ASAP. As both talent and small business owners, we have adapted to wearing so many hats, from self-directing, editing, and engineering sessions on our own, to marketing, contracts, social media, and the list goes on. 

Mom Life

When it came time to adding my role as a mom to my ever-growing multi-hyphenate list, maintaining a work-life balance suddenly felt very overwhelming. I had to begin managing more than just my own schedule, but I survived the only way I knew how: layering my life back in, one step at a time. When my daughter was born, I faced many creative challenges while adjusting to mom life, especially while completing my master’s degree, releasing my first album as a recording, and managing a thriving artistic and performance career behind the mic as a voiceover talent and singer, as well as on-camera as an actor. 

I got work done in the pockets of downtime whenever I could, especially during my daughter’s naps and after she went to bed. Like any new parent, I didn’t get much sleep, so I figured I may as well be productive while I’m awake. A few years later, I really felt like I had a handle on scheduling and work-life balance, until my son was born. By then, with a newborn son and 3-year-old daughter in tow, I was desperately searching for a system that worked to help me keep everything on track. 

What To Do?

I often wondered how I reached the ranks of a professional and passionate multi-hyphenate. After much thought, I concluded that it was literally by crossing off one goal at a time every day, over a period of many years. I love a good old-fashioned, hand-written to-do list in a journal or on Post-It Notes. This way, I can have an overview of general tasks that need to be completed. 

The biggest problem with my to-do list is that I never have the list around when I need it. As a creative freelancer, I also found it difficult to stay on track, especially when urgent client requests came in, or when I was away from my studio. I would grab whatever I had handy to take notes, even if that meant writing on a piece of junk mail or on the back of a box of baby wipes, which I would later transfer to my to-do list.

Life on the Coronacoaster

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in 2020, I was forced to find a system that finally worked for me. We all had to adjust to new learning curves on utilizing our technology more efficiently, especially when clients wanted to Zoom live directed sessions along with Source Connect. I always used Google Calendar for basic things, like my recording and coaching sessions, meetings, and my childrens’ schedules. But when life got chaotic with the whole family at home 24/7, I began utilizing my Google Calendar to keep track of everything, including daily tasks and to-dos. 

Sharing is Caring

I share my Google Calendar with my husband and my BFF’s devices, including my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, and iPhone. This way, we are all in the loop of my crazy schedule. As soon as auditions or bookings come in, I place the deadlines or session times in my Google Calendar with plenty of alerts and reminders leading up to the deadline. 

The Google Calendar alerts and iPhone alarms help me stay on track, especially now that both of my kids are also working voiceover talent. And since momager duties, booth directing, and editing my childrens’ sessions are thrown into the multi-hyphenate mix, I place our names respectively in front of each audition, booking, or task. Now, I live by my Google Calendar alerts, iPhone alarms, and my trusty water bottle! They complete me!

Block it Off

Once the sessions are marked in my Google Calendar, I begin blocking off recording and editing time, coaching sessions, auditions, and whatever else needs to get done for the week. Sometimes, I even mark a running list of daily tasks individually using the All-Day feature on Google Calendar. 

If needed, I add two or three alerts for each task to help keep me on track. For example, on recording projects that have some lead time, I may put a one-week alert, in addition to one-day and two-day alerts before the deadline. These alerts will sound on all my devices too, so if they are on silent while I record, the alert will pop up on all of them. This way, I will be sure to at least see the next task at hand no matter what device I am in front of. 

Batch it Up

I like to batch my auditions, singing projects, and self-directed bookings while I’m in creative mode, especially when my kids are at school and the house is quiet. If I need a couple hours of quiet time while my kids (now 9 and 6 years old) are home, I may turn on a show for them to watch or send them to the backyard to play. If I am bombarded with administrative tasks one day, I wait to record after everyone goes to sleep, and I may plan on completing edits the next morning. On other days, I need to prioritize my sleep to tackle last-minute client requests before the kids come home, so we can get straight to dinner and homework when they arrive. 

When it’s time to edit, I like to put my engineering and producer hat on. There will be days that don’t pan out so perfectly, especially when rush jobs come in, so I don’t always get to everything I planned for the day. I just click and drag the unfinished task to a time slot the next day. And when I complete a task or recording, I like to pick up my iPhone and drag the task from my Google Calendar to the day and time it was sent off. 

Dragging a completed task on my Google Calendar is like the magical feeling I get when I cross off an item on the to-do list. Every week or so, I will add projects and tasks to my ongoing to-do list, and every night, I will look at my agenda on the Google Calendar for the next day and upcoming week, so I know what needs to get done.

When in Doubt, Source it Out

Outsourcing is great. Especially, when it gives me more time to live my best creative, multi-hyphenate life. When I make the decision to outsource a process, I ask myself a few questions: Will this save me time? Can an external service provider do a better job? And do I have the time to manage or keep up with the service I’m outsourcing? 

I have a couple editors I work with on busy days when I need help getting projects completed, but many of the tasks I outsource aren’t always administrative. Outsourcing for a work-from-home creative freelancer parent can include hiring a cleaning, laundry, or lawncare service. It can also include utilizing apps like Instacart or UberEats when life gets busy with no time to shop or fix a meal. Outsourcing can be anything that helps you focus on doing your job more efficiently or making your day less stressful.

It Takes a Village

You cannot go it alone. It’s important to have support systems in place, especially if your time is pulled in so many directions. Sometimes you can’t get the career support you need from friends and family. Seek out that support in your community, online, or in meet up groups. You can find support on Facebook or other social media groups as well. Attend conferences online or in-person and connect with friends in your creative field. It makes a world of difference! 

Now go forth and prosper! I hope you continue to thrive artistically and strive toward living your own creative, multi-hyphenate life.

 

Learn more about Nazia Chaudhry as a coach, schedule a Private Coaching Session,  or check out Nazia’s other projects at www.nazvoice.com.