Monday, April 16, 2012

Guest Post: Anthony Kosobucki - Time Management

Anth is a good friend and we've frequented many a gig and venue together over the years.  He's one of those type with an old soul in a young body and when swapping stories it seems he's got one for any topic that arises.  Getting a written statement from this guy that's longer than 140 characters is quite a task though and I'm glad to say he finally got around to it. 
 
Jon asked me awhile ago to write a post for this blog and hadn’t seemed to have gotten to it in over a month.  Which is exactly what triggered me to write this.

It seems a lot of the time in our industry, there is always too much to do, in too little time. And if you’ve lived in a feast or famine type lifestyle, due to your profession, you end up having a hard time saying no to anyone, because that could mean that you and your family may not eat next week; or you may burn a bridge by saying no, that could cause you to not eat in the future.

Sticking around in this type of business usually means that you work unbelievably long shifts, which you have  begun to count in days straight because the way you kept track of the hours was by how many cigarettes are gone out of your pack... Or boxes out of a carton.

One of the most important things I’ve learned while I’ve worked as a stage hand, stage manager, or engineer, is to stop over scheduling myself. It wasn’t so bad when I was single and all my income went to keeping myself terribly not sober, and to support my 2-3 pack a day smoking habit. All I would do is go to school, come home, jump in a van or bus, or my car to drive to a venue to work. After awhile you start getting burnt out, and you hate what you’re doing, which causes your drinking and smoking to spiral out of control, and you turn into one of themost miserable bastards out there.

I’ve cut back quite a bit. I don’t smoke anymore, and only drink occasionally. My full time job now, is a  lighting and audio engineer for a church that runs a couple thousand. However, working here isn’t much different than being on the road. There is an incredible amount of things that need to be done, all the time. There’s the main room, 2 auxiliary auditoriums and a youth/kids facility that has a gym. I spend hours every week repositioning lights in there, because they are constantly hit with basketballs and footballs. On top of that, there are special events, weddings, funerals, and people just showing up deciding that they know what they’re doing, who create more and more work for me.

I’m not complaining about the work, but what I’ve found is that it’s really helpful to leave your self a “What the heck?” buffer. There will be something that goes wrong. A freak lightning storm that fries half of one of your rigs overnight, and you don’t find out until the next day, which is the day of an event. Someone decided that they didn’t like what wireless frequencies you were using, SO THEY CHANGED EVERY LAST  RECEIVER, but not the transmitters, some kid decided your desk was the optimal place for a tasty slurpee to go, Someone else decided that your patch bay was un-necessary and unplugged all of it. All of these things have happened, and all of these problems needed to be fixed in less than 24 hours.

When you load yourself to the brim, you can’t always fix these problems, and in some cases can’t address them at all; not to mention the unbelievable amount of stress you cause yourself when this stuff happens.

We work in an industry that demands at least 100% of our effort (if you’re doing it right). If you don’t allow yourself somewhat of a safety net time, you’ll usually end up looking like an idiot. Because, no matter what happens, it is your problem to fix. If you deny yourself the time to fix problems, or prepare for them, it’s like you’re waving a steak in front of a tiger, and expecting it to just sit there and wait until you’re ready for it.

Making yourself a checklist of everything you need to check before a show or event starts, will work  wonders. Even after you’ve gone through the same routine hundreds and hundreds of times, it’s still possible to forget something. And that extra 5 minutes of checking everything will be worth it.

2 comments:

  1. Along the lines of all this stress I've asked Jon to post a list of TOIDS as RIT calls them and I picked up on while I was working tech crew years back. TOIDS are evil things...the adapters you figure you'll never need but someone comes up with a reason for. Jon keeps mentioning something about a midi to 3-phase adapter, sounds like an explosive amount of fun. Any body have an old keyboard we could try that with? A lot of this business is all about preparedness. You need knowledge, experience, tricks, and luck in this. A few clever friends and a bit of insanity don't hurt either. Back when I started about 20 years ago I remember finishing building monitors the morning of a show, wiring cords as sound check is starting. Got to be rather nerve racking but it taught me how to do a lot with a little. Now I'm at the point where I keep telling myself I'm done with soldering projects unless things break but then I find some other strange thing that someone just might need and get it built before the next show so everything continues to go smoothly. You really need to make sure system engineering chops are up to snuff to be an effective mixologist, one of those guys Jon describes in a previous post that is constantly tweaking things for the better. All this preparedness goes a long way when you can come up with a solution for the down right bizarre.

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  2. I agree. I've never shown up to a gig early and thought..."I should have come later, I have nothing to do now..."

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