Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Where have I BEN?! (See what I did there?)

Howdy friends, it’s been over 3 weeks since I’ve posted to the forum. First, I want to say I’m sorry about that and I think about you every day. Second, I want to be honest and say I’ve gotten a bit overwhelmed. When I don’t have access to the forum for a couple weeks (like when I was in Cuba), the posts and threads pile up. It takes a chunk of time and energy to thoroughly go through everything, and I’m just now catching up with most of my duties.

It’s good to be busy, I guess, but it’s also not good at all. I’ve come to some self-realization lately. In my first 40 years (40th BD coming up in July), I’ve been able, for the most part, to handle everything in the moment (or at least look like I do!). Even with big projects, I’ve been able to get things done when they needed to be done, and keep everything suspended in its place in my mind. I just thought I was really busy and had a lot of irons in the fire, which equated to success, and it even unintentionally became the common topic of conversation with my friends and family. “Ben, how are you?” “Oh brother, slammed! I did this and this and this today, and tomorrow I have THIS!”

Last week a dear friend of mine told me they wanted to talk to me, but knew I was too busy so they didn’t call. That broke my heart. What quality of a friend or brother can I be if folks determine (probably because of what I tell them!) that I’m too busy for them? I decided I was done with being busy. So, what does that mean?

After a long couple weeks of taking an assessment of my life, I realized I don’t have more of a workload than many producers and biz owners. I do have a lot of work, but not more than many who somehow have time for the important things like friends and family.

It’s taken some humbling and repenting, but I’ve come to realize and accept that I can’t handle everything in the moment. I can get it done, but I don’t have the brainpower to pull everything off at the last minute, which is most often what fuels my “busy-ness.” I must plan more, I must delegate more, I must prepare more, and I must take back my schedule. I won’t go into all the details of what that entails, but I’m excited! I bought Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner and it’s going great so far.

A few practical changes: I’m limiting my email and social media checks to just a few times a day rather than whenever I WANT or when I see a notification come through. Also, I have developed a concrete morning and evening ritual that prepares me for productivity and rest. And, during that morning ritual, I take time to schedule my whole day in 30-minute increments. Whatever doesn’t get done gets prioritized and moved to another time or day.

There are some changes that my students and friends (y’all!!) may notice. One, I can’t respond in great detail to every email I receive. I will always respond, but I’ll have to ask you to come to the forum more often rather than spend 15-20 minutes per email. I just simply do not have the time. Two, I’m going to produce a single lesson per instrument every month, rather than one a week. So starting in June, week 1 will be banjo, week 2 guitar, and week 3 mando. On the 4th week, Jake will be producing some fun material that deals with instrument care, purchasing, upgrading, luthiery, or hillbilly beatboxing. That extra week for me means I get near 30 hours back each month. I can use these hours to plan for the future of the site/biz, work on camps, maybe take a day off (WHAT?!?!), or maybe even practice my banjo, mando, guitar, etc.!

I’m curious, what do you think of that new schedule? It will still be content delivery 4 times a month, but will look a little different. I would appreciate your feedback.

Anyway, I have been blessed with a beautiful family of a wife and two little girls and they have been missing out on daddy in a lot of ways. I had and have to make some changes, and what’s exciting is that I believe my quality of life and the quality of Banjo Ben, INC. will both improve.

I love y’all, and thanks for cutting me some slack when I’m away from the forum for a while.

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Welcome back Ben. I was wondering why we hadn’t heard from you.

I think it’s fantastic, that you’re working on time management. I’ve always been quite lousy at it, but over the last six months or so, I’ve developed a nightly “ritual” if you will, that helps greatly with my spiritual needs and also helps me to sleep a little better.

Managing time well is an indispensable skill, and I commend you for having a plan for it.

I believe we’ll all be fine with the new lesson plan. We have a lifetime’s worth of material presently, so it’s all good.

As a final thought, remember the sabbath was created for rest. Enjoy God, Enjoy the family and just bag everything for one day a week.

Glad to hear from you.

Jack

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Thanks! Well, I’m a pastor at a church, so Sunday is my most stressful and difficult day physically and emotionally, but also the best. I’m working on finding an off day!

Welcome home @BanjoBen and thanks for the update. My first reaction is to say - IT’S ABOUT TIME. Buddy, we can do math and several of us have talked amongst ourselves and to you personally about your schedule and I’ve/we’ve been concerned that you are not getting enough rest and/or time with your family. So, I for one, and I’m sure others will agree, know that you’re no good to anyone if you burn out and I’m happy you’re dialing it back a bit, and you may have to even more and that’s OK. We have plenty of content to keep us busy for years for cryin’ out loud. These are good moves you’re making.

God and family come before business. We understand, we’re here for you, we got your back man. I’m just gonna throw this out there… You’ve mentioned the possibility of two camps this Fall, I don’t know how you can do that; that’s just pie in the sky even with you’re new schedule, it’s too ambitious. As much as I want to attend one, you gotta drop at least one of them, just sayin’.

Tell your wife and the girls we appreciate them too and what they do and put up with. God bles you and we love you too :slight_smile:

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Welcome to elderly adulting…hehe… organized scheduling & routine can be good things and great stress relief!

Just writing things down can give you a real awakening as to time vs activity. don’t forget to schedule “inactivity” periods…even the strongest batteries need recharged regularly.

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Hi @BanjoBen Ben! We’ve certainly missed you here. I like how you’re thinking about your family and friends in your personal life. They definitely are a priority as mush as everything else is.
I’m in favor with whatever changes you see are necessary. I know this has all been a learning experience for you, and let me tell you, you’re doing one hell of a job!
I’m excited about these changes , I really am, and I’m definitely looking forward to the lessons from Jake about the Hillbilly Beatboxing . That’s something I’ve always wanted to learn hahah!

Thanks so much for all that you do for us Ben ( :

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Ben,

Welcome back, and it’s great to hear of your new plans. Personally, the proposed new lesson posting schedule sounds great.

The comments above are from your friends, and we all want to see you continue to succeed in your business…but not at the expense of the more important areas of your life. Delegation is a difficult but liberating experience, and your natural leadership skills will no doubt serve you well in this pursuit. Think of it as a way to multiply your efforts and your impact on others.

We’re excited to see where all of this will lead!

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Great to see you back on the board, Ben, and even better to hear that you’re trying to lighten your load. Like Maggie said, there are those of us who worry about you.

I doubt there’s anyone who’s able to keep up with you when it comes to learning lessons. Heck, I can’t even keep up with just the banjo lessons, much less the other 2 instruments.

Your site is so full of material, you could cut your lesson frequency in half and still be ahead of most other sites for years to come.

We love you buddy. Glad to hear about the positive changes you’re making. I’m excited for you!

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You are blessed with a wonderful family and friends. I am with you !

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I am happy to hear that you are moving in this direction (less planned work). I’d suggest maybe taking it a step further. You already have a HUGE catalog. An endless book sounds like a great idea in week one, but 10 years into it, and it will likely have gotten to be misery. I (and many others here) would rather have a happy, healthy Ben bringing content at WHATEVER interval as opposed to getting X amount from a tired, frazzled Ben. I suggest you plan for more time of at the “big” holidays. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, how many members are hanging around their PC waiting for a new solo to play? Admittedly, there may be a few, but I suspect there are far many more who would be happy to know that you were getting more quality time with the family. Likewise, when you do a camp, guess what? That time spent there doesn’t get automatically generated. Time spent for the camp is a benefit for this community! Make someone the video reporter and have them put together a video. I bet someone would be happy to do it for free (once anyway :slight_smile: ).

My point is this. If you are realizing that you need to budget your time better and in order to make it work, you have to cut back the schedule, maybe going to 3 monthly isn’t enough. Maybe plan to do 2 a month and if you feel frisky, do a bonus one. It reminds me of a punchline to a joke… we have already established what you are, we are now just haggling about price. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the joke, but I do recall it is quite funny. Anyway, only if you cut back to less than what you think you need, ONLY then will you find time to do the things you really want to do here. At the end of the day, that’s what I want for you… when you come into the office, I want you to be jazzed about making a break, planning, recording and editing a video, responding to a request for help… whatever it is, I want you to be pumped. I suspect I am not alone. You know what, I have a concrete proposal. Instead of thinking monthly, think yearly. I suspect you want to have something to promise future members, so what about 10 videos a year for each instrument? That is a nice round number. That way, if you are gone to Israel for 2 weeks (and taking care of details for that in the weeks leading up to it), you don’t have to worry about the site while you are gone. Then next month, hit the ground running and put out out 3 or 4 videos.

BTW, I love the idea of Jake doing content! Jake is a great talent.

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I’ve been there @BanjoBen and I tried to throw you a life preserver when I spotted the signs but I guess you were on a high and didn’t see it coming. We all need a bit of ME time. Time away from work, the family and the hustle and bustle of our busy environment in order to recharge our batteries . Glad you’ve had a little time to look at the bigger picture and made a plan for going forward.

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I’ll add my support to you taking a few steps back, and I agree with the others, there’s already so much material that I would be quite old by the time I finished even if you never added anything else. And I’m looking forward to seeing what Jake comes up with. Here’s a harebrained idea, and don’t feel any pressure, but it could be a good opportunity for him to teach some clawhammer banjo, and that would kill two birds with one stone, letting you rest some and adding a much requested topic. Anyway, that’s just an idea, I also want to hear some hillbilly beatboxing too :joy::joy:

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Just a thought, Could maybe Katy Lou and Penny Lee fill in with the odd lesson when they are not on the road.

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That’s a good idea and possible, but usually ends up being more work from me when someone else tries to teach. It has to be organized and presented in a certain way (yes, up to my standards) and I also do all the video/audio editing and tab work. In the end, it’s more difficult for me to edit and arrange someone else’s content than my own, especially if I want uniformity of presentation on the site.

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High Standards indeed or just a nit picker.

I meant to say in my earlier post. If I run out of lessons I can always visit one of the other sites where my life membership is still valid. They may not teach as well as you do Ben but a brief visit makes me realise just what a great teacher you are. Your lessons are of such high quality instruction, interesting and full of humour which is the reason I stuck with you and not with them.

Could it be worth training someone else (Jake maybe?) To be able to conform with your amazing standard of quality? Like, in the long run would it make life easier if you didn’t have to worry about the fourth week lesson, and when you wanted time off they could fill in? I can see why that wouldn’t work though… :thinking: well, it’s a thought anyway, but I should probably be practicing instead of thinking, it’s more productive :joy::roll_eyes::grin:

@BanjoBen, I would just like to say that (im hoping most of us all agree), that we “love” you like a brother, a friend, a mentor and a teacher and a family man… I know you put 200% into your life and business and such, but if you never make time for yourself and family and friends, then this is all for naught. I know that God has and will guide you. All things will work out for the better when you just let go sometimes. “We” will all be here for you through “thick and thin”, there is nobody else (well maybe a couple…:laughing:) that i would want to learn and grow from than you. YOU need to do what you need to do to maintain balance and we all will begin the “New Chapter” with you.

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