Tips For The Unrelenting Creative: How To Set Boundaries At Work

white and pink laptop on the table

Hi everyone,

Happy Tuesday! I’m writing to you from my brother’s childhood bedroom in Norfolk, Virginia where I will be working for the week. My father passed away two years ago at the beginning of the pandemic and we’re finally going to celebrate his life with a memorial concert this Saturday. Saying goodbye is always difficult, especially when we’ve had to wait such a long time, but I am thankful that this moment has finally come and so many will safely gather this week to celebrate my father’s life. I miss him.

Thanks for taking a little time out of your day to read this newsletter, I truly appreciate you!


  • How To (Re)Think About Retirement: I invest about 15% of my salary for retirement. The money I invest now will help me be comfortable later in life when I’m not working. Some argue that instead of saving for retirement, I should be spending some of that money now when I am young.

    Tip: If you are not already saving for retirement, start now. While the target should be 15% of your pay, ANY amount you invest is a win. After that, your goal is to decide how you will spend your invested money between now and when you pass away. Check out this this article by Khe Hy that lays out a great argument for having $0 in your bank account when you reach the end of your life.

    Related: Understanding The Rule of 72
  • How To Set Boundaries At Work: I have been accused of being a workaholic from time to time. It is difficult for me to set boundaries for myself, especially at a time when a lot of work is conducted from my home office and it’s hard to draw the line between my work day and my time with family.

    Tip: Set an annual rules of engagement document with your team so everyone is on the same page when it comes to work boundaries. For example, I don’t believe that emergencies should be handled via email. If something comes up that requires my urgent attention, I ask that my team texts me for a quick response. Rachel Feintzeig has some great suggestions for redrawing work boundaries in this Wall Street Journal Article

    Related: Seven Tips To Keep Your Calendar Sacred
  • How Older Popular Music Continues To Dominate The Airwaves: The headlines in popular music for the past couple of years have largely been about well known artists (IE. Bob Dylan, Paul Simon) selling their entire catalogue of music for hundreds of millions of dollars. Music that is thirty and forty years old continues to dominate the streaming and radio waves, even as releasing new music has never been easier. 

    Tip: As this article in The Atlantic points out, the music industry (including classical music) continues to celebrate sure bets, which translates into promoting new music that sounds like other well-known hits instead of leaning into new sounds from emerging artists. While I don’t have the perfect answer for this conundrum, I do think that musicians should continue to be bold, make music that is meaningful to them, and work to give their fans opportunities to financially support their careers outside the sale of a record. Listeners should celebrate new music, share their favorite music with their community, and identify new ways of supporting their favorite emerging artists.

    Related: 8 Steps To Achieve Your Three Year Strategic Plan

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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