Since dedicating his life to getting the good word down, DJBooth senior writer Yoh Phillips has become one of the most respected writers in modern music journalism.
He continues to insert thought-provoking essays, poetic blurbs, and in-depth articles in hopes of following Kendrick’s footsteps to a Pulitzer Prize Award one day.
Balance the Grind spoke to Yoh about his music writing process, managing mental health, managing work-life balance, lessons from Lil Wayne and plenty more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
First and foremost, I appreciate the interview and your website. I’m a storyteller, and words are my weapon of choice. My current role is that of a music journalist. There’s a wonderful website called DJBooth where most of my writing over the last 4 years can be found.
2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Early on, when I would stay up all night writing, there was no consistent schedule. For a long time, I couldn’t find a work groove. Now, I try and begin my days around 7 AM.
Start early is a goal every day. If I don’t have a story pitched or in the process of finishing one, I start going through my list of potential pitches. If I don’t speak with her over the phone, I’ll message Donna, my managing editor, and see if the idea has legs. If ideas can’t walk, they won’t travel far.
But yeah, my days consist of the grueling process of getting a story from your mind to being published. That’s my Monday through Friday. It’s a lot of things in-between, mostly listening to music and being on my phone, but that stuff is boring. I’m a slow writer, really slow. My pace keeps me in front of the Google Doc.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Remote working? Eh, that’s not my thing. Luckily, I work from home. I’m comfortable with my thoughts here. For me, I can’t speak for all writers, but I prefer my silence or sounds I can manage.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
Man, manage your mental health. It’s important to recognize the workload your mind, soul, and spirit can carry. I know everyone has grand ambitions and is doing all they can to achieve their dreams, but consistency is what leads to longevity, and you need to be your best to be effective.
Everyone is different. For me, it took being overwhelmed to realize what that word means. Now, I have a better idea of what I can take on. I try to be rational about the time and energy that my task requires of me.
It’s hard not to burn out every once and a while, but the goal is to maintain and care for the fire. All creatives have is our flame.
5) What does work life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Balance? I don’t know about balance. Work has a way of becoming life. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but I know the sentiment is a layered one.
Life happens to lead me back to work. I take time to smell the roses, but eventually, I’m going to write about their scent.
My goal is to write as long as I can without missing anything important. In my perfect world, working the way I do, I’ll be present at my niece’s birthdays, I’ll be at all my best friend’s weddings, and will catch as many family vacations that I can, but anything life offers that I can miss, I’ll be somewhere waiting to catch lightning.
6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
This is more so over the last few weeks:
Calculating sleep into personal deadlines. Waking up early enough to second-guess. Spending as if the money will be late. Staying off Twitter. Creating a process that I can trust. Reading, reading, reading.
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
Experience has been my greatest teacher. Lil Wayne wasn’t kidding when he said, “Repetition is the father of learning.”Create a process that you can trust, live in that process, and improve upon any and all shortcomings that you can.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I keep notes of my task for each day and take deep breaths as I try and complete them all.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other. Try to remember that life is long and that you have time to be the best you that you can be. The finish line is the same for everyone, let’s makes some great memories before we cross it.
If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!