Tag Archive for health

Stuffing Your Voice

holiday-eatingHoliday eating and drinking is pretty universal. Most of us stuff ourselves in the presence of friends and family and indulge on New Year’s Eve. Now, this is not a bad thing, but when you’re sitting down to the table, think of your voice! Of course you do this often anyway, but we all get last minute jobs, even over the holidays, and if you rein it in a little, you can perhaps improve the quality of your auditions, reads, and anything else voice related during that time.

When thinking about health and holidays, I decided to seek some wisdom from Dr. Ann S. Utterback, the well known voice doctor. She writes an informative blog on how to keep your voice healthy, and I’ve found her to be both a very nice person and a highly important perspective for delivering your best vocal product. She says, in regards to holiday eating:

“We all know sugar cookies and eggnog put on pounds, but there is another culprit during the holidays, and that’s salt.  Salt causes the body to retain fluid.  Couple that with the weight gain most of us will have in the coming month, and you’ve got that stuffed feeling that saps your energy and makes it harder to breathe with the diaphragm.  So as much as you love those salty party snacks and Bloody Marys, remember to keep tabs on your salt intake.”
So when you’re sitting down at the table, pause for a moment of thought while you fill your plate. Your voice health is important year round, and a little restraint may help you keep your quality higher even during the busy holiday season.

3 Things I Learned Staying Up All Night

up all nightRecently, due to some competing deadlines, I stayed awake all night to finish some work. After I caught up on sleep, some observations about the experience occurred to me and I wanted to share them with you. We’ve all been there right? Not enough hours in the day and too much to do, and suddenly you find yourself having to stretch the extra mile to make sure everything gets done on time. Meeting deadlines is really important to me, and I know it’s important to my clients too. So without further ado–here’s what I learned in my marathon of work!

1. You are more capable than you think you are.

I’m 32. yes, I’m not ancient, but I was pretty certain I couldn’t make it though the night any more, or at least not easily. With the aid of plenty of coffee and judicious naps, I was able to make it with little trouble. I did not feel wonderful, but I was able to be sharp and accomplished with no problems.

2. Working longer doesn’t always mean working better.

Despite working for about 24 out of 36 hours, (I had to go to the dentist and get a root canal finished as well. Not the best day!) I was not vastly more accomplished than I would have been otherwise. I probably could have been nearly as effective with a better working method and a good night’s sleep.

3. Just enough isn’t good enough.

I will freely admit that it was my fault for ending up in the situation where I had to stay up so long. For a number of days, I had gotten ‘just enough’ work done. My focus was divided, and my overall work completion suffered for it. I could give you all kind of reasons as to why this was the case, but the point is that a greater sense of prioritization would have helped me to whittle out the chaff and move from point to point more quickly.

Any freelancer knows that in order to do our jobs well, we have to outdo any ball balancing seal any day of the week. And our focus needs to be both laser-like and intense, yet capable of running from one task to the next with no loss of control. Everyone does better or worse on this on a daily basis, but it’s important to not get stuck in a single way of doing things. It’s vital to keep in mind how capable you really are, and lastly, don’t forget that the ‘I’ll do it later’ you say today is likely to create numerous problems tomorrow.

Asking For Help

6a00d8341c500653ef0162fc629c06970dSome of us suffer from the reluctance to do this more than others. I think the mindset that produces it is common to people who end up entrepreneurs. We want to get everything done ourselves for a variety of reasons, perhaps because we want to make sure all the details are just so, perhaps because we don’t want to take the time to explain all the aspects of something we want done, perhaps because we think there’s no one to ask. Or maybe someone just doesn’t think of it because they’re so caught up in the day to day reality of making a living in our wonderful and yet often uncertain business. (Will I have more work tomorrow? Will my clients re-cast something I just did because they didn’t like it? Should I spent more time marketing?)

But it’s important to do this when it’s needed. Only you can say when that is, but don’t hesitate if you’re overwhelmed, if you’re feeling pulled in all directions. Whether it’s someone in your family, or a college kid you hire, or whatever, don’t hesitate to take those steps and have someone to turn to when things get crazy. On more than one occasion I have filled my plate a little too full, (because I hate turning people away) and have had to request help from other editors or from my family to make sure that I can meet my deadlines. It’s humbling, in a way, but I’ve felt better afterwards, and it’s let me attend to my other work with a freer mindset and less stress.

Make 2014 the year you ask for help when you need it! You’ll never know until you try how much impact and benefit this can have for you.


The Importance of Holidays

Happy-HolidaysIn past years, I never took a break from my work. I worked seven days a week, whenever there was something to do, and to whatever hour it took me to finish my work. And frankly, I never had time for myself and wasn’t particularly happy.

More recently I decided to regulate my working hours. I get up at the same time every day, work until 5pm, and have the evening hours to myself. This doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t work outside of that time, but I make an effort to get everything done within my typical working day. The ability to have a few hours free every day is great incentive to get more work done. I also take weekends off and use the time to catch up on chores and pursue my personal and artistic projects. (I paint, for example.)

The fact that I do these things causes astonishment, and in some cases derision from people that I talk to. I fully recognize that my schedule would not work for many people who have full time jobs, families and children to care for. I would never intimate that what works for me is required for someone else–however, the importance of taking a break, of having some time away from the microphone and the DAW is absolutely vital. Giving your mind, fingers, and vocal cords a break (even if it’s a ten minute walk around the block) will give you a chance to refresh on all levels and make your next piece or section of work better, and you’ll feel better about it, which is worth those few moments, don’t you think?

What are your resolutions?

a_fresh_startHappy New Year! It’s been a while since I’ve written. I used the end of last year as an opportunity to re-evaluate a lot of things about my business and my writing for this blog. I had kind of gotten burned out, and I wanted to take a chance to step away and refresh my perspective and come up with some new content.

My business has gone through a lot of changes–I started in 2011, but really only gave things my full attention a year later in late 2012. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds since then as far as clients, reputation, and the different types of work that I’ve been involved with, but it’s been a challenge to write my own ticket, to create a job and a business that’s not quite unique, but is certainly unusual. When I first started things, I always introduced myself as “Bob Souer’s Daughter,” so people would have a context for me in the voice over community, but more and more often now I find people who have heard of me, and never heard of my Dad! (This was very startling the first time it happened.)

So for a New Year, I find myself re-evaluating and taking a hard look at myself and my methods. I don’t want to get too comfortable and I don’t want to miss out on things that could improve what I do both in efficiency and effectiveness.

What are your resolutions? How are you going to make this year better than ever for yourself and your business? Next week I’ll be talking more about mine, and issuing a challenge for you! Think about it.

Health and Wellness Talk from Faffcon


This week’s post includes my notes from my health and wellness talk at the recent Faffcon Voiceover Unconference. I wanted to share my journey with people, and hopefully inspire and motivate them to be the person they’ve always wanted to be. If I can lose the weight I have and keep it off, anyone can!

1. I started this journey out at 280 pounds. I’m 5’7″, and I should be around 140 pounds, so I was literally twice the woman I should have been. I’ve always known the general principles of eating well, but I loved food with the wrong kind of love.

2. Started out on the Nutrisystem diet, lost weight quickly and immediately started feeling better. I’d always had a resistance to ‘special food’ diets because they tend to be kind of expensive, and what do you do when you finish the special food and have to go back to the regular thing?

3. My brother Eric started on the diet at the same time as I did, and I cannot overstate how valuable this is. Having someone around to help keep you accountable, to not let you make excuses, and to do the same things you’re doing is a very strong part of motivation. It’s possible to do these things on your own, but it’s much more of a challenge to keep on track.

4. Education is also helpful. Learn about what’s in your food. What goes into making it? This will be more help than you think. Learn that the awesome ice cream you eat is 240 calories an ounce. That the pizza rolls serving size is only 4 when you normally eat 10 or 12. Read nutrition labels and see how many chemicals and other kinds of things are in your food. Simple is good!

5. Soda is really, really bad for you, and one of the biggest and best weight loss decisions I made was to give it up and drink water and tea. It’s chock full of sugar and acid that is terrible for your teeth, not to mention being something with no nutritional value whatsoever! Plus big doses of caffeine combined with the sugar means that you have spikes and crashes, making it harder to work.

6. Starting a diet is easy, staying on it is difficult, but not impossible, but where a lot of people run into problems is when they fall off the wagon. You’ve got to realize that when you fall off the wagon, that’s not the problem. Yes, you should acknowledge the area that caused you a problem and work to fix that, but the important thing is to get back on the wagon. It doesn’t matter if it’s been a day, a week, or a month since you last were on your plan, get back on. Don’t let you prevent you from looking how you want to look, feeling better, and doing what you want to do.

7. Like I said, you are your biggest enemy. Your excuses, rationalizations, and every other strategy you make up to keep yourself from being what you could be, how you want to look like, anything you want. Get out of your own damn way!

8. Move your butt. No seriously, move your butt. It doesn’t have to be huffing and puffing every day, but the amount that most of us sit every day is as bad for you as smoking. Sit for an hour, and then get up and walk for a few minutes, take a moment to do a couple of chores, and you’ll be amazed at how good you feel. Take your husband, kids, dog, or your own bad self and go for a walk! Just MOVE, and you’ll make a difference. Combine it with a few of these other things, and you will truly astonish yourself.

9. Don’t give up. Just don’t. It doesn’t matter if you screw up, don’t ever stop believing in your ability to change every habit that you don’t like. Don’t say you can’t do something, turn it around and figure out how you can. Everyone is capable of far, far more than they think they are. You just have to go out and get it!

10 Things You Could be Doing Instead of Editing

310115_181777665230709_1636826060_nEveryone’s lives are busy these days, we all have more tasks to accomplish than there are hours in the day. Something important to consider is what is unessential on your to-do list. What could you not be doing to give yourself more flexibility for the ten thousand other things? So today I wrote about the task that nearly every talent has to do, and most of them don’t need to!

1. Having time for yourself: Whether this is watching some TV, or reading a book, or going out to a movie, it’s vitally important that every person, and particularly entrepreneurs to get some time to recharge your personal batteries, and rest your mind. You will find that your work goes better and more efficiently if you aren’t working all the time.

2. Spend time with your loved ones: Of course not everyone has someone living with them  or close by, but there are phonecalls, Skype, and even that ancient art of writing letters or cards. (I find that writing cards or letters to my older relatives is especially rewarding since I know they enjoy them so much.)

3. Voicing the next thing: Most of us have more than one project on the table at the same time, and sending work off to an editor allows you to move from one script to the next without having to stop and clean up your work.

4. Marketing: Finding ways to connect with new customers and to work on building your online presence is in some ways, another full time job. Marketing is changing, and figuring out how to reach people in this new world is something most of us could spend more time, or more effective time (but that’s another post.) doing.

5. Taking care of your equipment: And I’m not talking about your microphone! Your overall body health ties in with your vocal health, which makes you not only sound better, but have less of things like mouth noise. There are a million different things you can do to improve both in staying active and eating better.

6.  Innovating-Routine: Is there a routine that you could improve? A to-do list you should check some things off of? Find new ways to tackle your tasks and to overcome your obstacles. We all have things that we could do better or more effectively, and it’s easy to lose track of the need to change when you have project after project to work on.

7. Innovating-Business Plan: It never hurts to take a second look at how you are running the machine that keeps you fed, clothed, and housed. You may see a loose end that could be changed or another detail that could improve your reach and/or client base.

8. Goal Setting: Where do you want to be in a year? Five years? What is the big picture for your life? Do you want to get healthier? Buy a house? Move somewhere? What do you really want out of life? Life is short. Plan so you can use it well.

9. Plan a getaway: Anyone who is ‘plugged in’ these days, and freelancers in particular find it ferociously difficult to get away from the computer, the email, and the constant stream of work. (Or at least that’s the goal, right?) It’s important to take a step away from your usual location and a day or two to dust off the cobwebs and give yourself a real chance to refresh. This is separate from #1, as it entails going somewhere, even just overnight. I refer to this as ‘hitting the reset button in my brain’, and the busier I get, the more necessary to my continued productivity it is.

10.  Say thank you: We all have problems, frustrations, or difficulties that challenge us every day. But we’re doing something that not everyone gets to, working in an industry where your colleagues are friendly and generous, the work is many things but generally not boring, and there is something different every day. Thank your spouse, your friends, thank your clients, thank God or the Flying Spagetti Monster. Show the people around you that you’re grateful for their presence in your life, and you will reap far more benefits than you sow.

Project Managment Presents Lessons

Recently I finished a stint of project management work for TVandRadiovoices.com. I met Dustin Ebaugh at Faffcon 4 out in California, and was later introduced to his wife, Kirissa. The two of them hired me to help run their company while they were on vacation. This was a tremendous learning experience for me as a virtual assistant, and a lot of hard work!

There were several important things that came home to me while doing this work:

1. It’s always useful to understand better the business of people you work with. After having worked with Dustin and Kirissa, I have a much better understanding of the process of how audio goes from the client to the VO talent and back again. This can only help me in the long run, because the more I understand about the business, the better I can tailor my business to my own clients. It can also help you have sympathy or empathy for your own clients–yes their script was delayed, but maybe it was because your contact has 10 people on his/her back demanding 12 different things-yesterday!

2. It’s very easy for an entrepreneur to run their own business without having a complete understanding of what they’re doing. Most of us have worked for a good sized business at one point or another in our lives. One of the major differences between those companies and ours is that they have to work out all their rules and policies, and generally write them down. We don’t do this, and although you may never hand your business to someone else like Dustin and Kirissa did to me, it’s a good idea to explore exactly what you do, and why you do it. Think about it, maybe you got in a habit when you first started out that is less efficient or effective in say, marketing, or your workflow. Conducting some self examination can only benefit you, who knows what you may discover?

3. One of the hardest things–and one of the most important–to cultivate as an entrepreneur is a sense of global awareness. Most of us fulfill every traditional business position from CEO to Chief Bottle Washer. It’s very easy to focus on a single task at a time and get tunnel vision, or worse, partially complete a half dozen tasks and feel spread horribly thin across all that area. Our work demands a tremendous amount from us, and in response we have to step up our efforts in every area. We must find not only a good way to work, but the best way to move across all these areas to reach our respective goals, whatever they may be.

4. You need to take time off. Now, this might sound silly, but I truly believe in this one. If you want to be able to continue the high level of work and professionalism we all demand for ourselves, you must give your own batteries a chance to recharge. I know, everyone travels with a mic and an iPad in their suitcase, but the farther off the grid you can get the better! Stepping away from work gives you a chance to clear your head, to spend time with those you care for, and this can only have many benefits for your health, your business, and your personal peace of mind. When you really clear your head, those vexing problems may present their own solutions since you finally have time to think freely!

I hope that these lessons that I learned can help you, and perhaps think of a new direction to take your work. I know that with every job I do, I learn something new, and I look forward to my next work experience, and the lessons therein.

Next week the ever popular Faffcon is my topic!

Wash your mouth out!

A small bit of background. I used to do a lot of theatre, and worked with many actors and singers. This exposed me to a fair amount of information on voice care. From this front, I present a couple of important points.

You guys are some of the hardest working people I know. Every one of you maintains amazingly busy schedules, often juggling families, sometimes other careers, and lending your voices to countless products and services. However, taking a little extra care of your voice can save you time, (editing), frustration, (editing), and make your audio sound better overall. (less editing!)

First and foremost: Hydration. This is so important, I’ll say it again. Hydration. Drying out the tissues in your mouth and throat is the recipe for mouth noise and other less pleasant sounds. Two of your best friends while on this quest will be lemons and apples. Both of these will hydrate along with tightening up the tissues in your mouth and throat.

I know this next thing I’m going to say will bring wailing and weeping from the masses. It is truly a grave sacrifice I ask of you, but I know that it can truly help you. Avoid caffeine! It dries you out, and the more you drink the more it will dry you out. Another thing to avoid is a lot of dairy. As awesome as dairy products are, it will promote mucus in your throat, which makes another set of unpleasant noises.

The more you keep your mouth and throat clean and in tip top shape, the better you will sound. This can only help you in the long run.

The wonderful world of Faffing is the topic of next week’s post!


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