How To Make Time For Your Acting Career

In my last post on productivity I gave you the hard truths about Why You Can’t Find Time For Your Acting Career.

Today I’m presenting you with the antidote, four key principles to win back your time and put it to use for your acting career.

  1. Get A Better Temp Job
  2. Identify And Eliminate Time Sucking Habits
  3. Define What You Want To Achieve
  4. Use A Productivity System
    1. Pomodoro Technique – Basic
    2. The 12 Week Year – Intermediate
    3. Getting Things Done  – Elite

Get A Better Temp Job

This one is without a doubt the most impactful thing you can do for your career as an actor.

It’s so easy isn’t it. So easy to just keep on doing what you’re doing because you’re already doing it.

The path of least resistance will always direct you to the same place, keep you on the same track.

Sticking with your temp job is easy because you don’t have to do anything, think about anything or risk anything.

You just wake up, turn up, do your work, go home.

But a bad temp job is the number 1 reason why actors feel they have no time, or that the time they do have is spent sleeping or recovering from the weariness of the job.

If you’re forced to work six days a week at the minute to be able to afford to live, then you need to start looking for a job that pays you better.

If you get home at 3am every night and spend most of the next day asleep then you need to find a job with sociable hours that doesn’t drain you of all your energy.

If you can never plan ahead because you might get shifts and you have to take what you’re given in case that’s all you get then you need to find a job that doesn’t pretend to be flexible and instead gives you some security.

Identify And Eliminate Time Sucking Habits

How much time do you spend on your phone each week? Go on, check your screen time right now for last week.

Last week I wasted 11 hours on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram on my phone alone.

That’s an average of over an hour a day and I think I’m pretty damn good at managing that considering I run several online businesses and manage several communities with nearly 100,000 total members.

What’s your excuse?

What other habits could you address? How much Netflix are you watching each week instead of reading an acting book or a play or something vaguely career related?

How long are you staying in bed each day when you know you have nothing in particular to get up for? I haven’t had a temp job in about 7 years, but I’m still at my desk in my home office by 9am every morning.

Identify the one big habit that is sucking up the largest chunk of your time at the moment and spend the next month attempting to eliminate that habit just five days out of seven and you will be amazed at how much more you get done.

Define What You Want To Achieve

“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Alice: I don’t much care where.

The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

If you don’t know, specifically, where you are trying to get to how can you possibly expect yourself to know what to do to get you there.

Without a clear direction for what you want to achieve any time that you do spend on your career is unfocused, spread too thin, unproductive.

If you manage to squeeze out 20% extra time today to spend on your career but you try to do five different things, that’s only 5% of your energy devoted to anything!

You’ll never achieve anything impactful that way.

You need to sit yourself down and identify the fifty things you could do for your career.

Then narrow that down to the ten or so things you should do that are most important.

Then, finally, identify the one thing that, if achieved, makes everything else easier or less significant.

The One Thing that will have the greatest impact on your career, and what succeeding would look like.

Then focus all your attention on actioning just that one thing until you reach the success you have identified for yourself.  

Use A Productivity System

Now that you’ve started to improve your work life balance, you’ve started to address bad habits that eat up your time and you’ve identified the single most important thing you should be doing with the time you’ve gained you need a process for executing your to-do’s effectively.

You need a Productivity System.

A productivity system is a process, simple or complex, that helps you get more done in the time you have to do it.

If you have an hour a day to spend on your career but you waste 20 minutes procrastinating and 20 minutes planning and researching then you’ve only really got 20 minutes left of actual doing time.

A productivity system doesn’t have to be daunting.

If you saw my productivity system your mind might explode, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

(I have a spreadsheet entitled “Fun Activities” lol!)

Here are a couple of systems for you to explore, from simple to complex:

Pomodoro Technique – Basic

The pomodoro technique is a really simple time management system that helps you stay productive throughout your day and not get distracted.

It balances short 25 minute periods of work on specific small tasks, with deliberate 5 minute breaks in between for two hours at a time.

Read more about the pomodoro technique here.

The 12 Week Year – Intermediate

The 12 Week Year is a system of planning and strategic scheduling that breaks a whole year down into four, 12 week projects.

Instead of trying to plan your whole year at once and set goals for december that is so far away you only plan to achieve a subset of things within the next 12 weeks, reviewing your progress each week and month as you go.

This is an intermediate level system as it takes a bit of planning and habit to form and adopt.

Getting Things Done  – Elite

If you love lists then Getting Things Done is dope!

My fiancee once described it as “making lists about the lists for the lists of things you have to do.”

I credit Getting Things Done (GTD) with the success of quite a few areas of my life including having zero emails in my inbox at the end of every week.

Read that again, I didn’t say zero unread emails… I said zero emails. None. Not a single email sits in my inbox for more than a week!

GTD is a robust productivity system with a few key, core principles that you can take one by one and implement as best you can; like the “3 Minute Rule” for short tasks, or the “Action Pending” list for never forgetting anything ever, or it can be adopted as a whole super-system for managing literally every aspect of your life.

Based on layers of increasing catagorisation and priority GTD helps you capture every possible action you might need to do for every possible project on your radar, prioritise each of those actions and systematically work through each of those tasks with periodic reviews of your progress.

I reckon I only do about 40% of what is recommended in GTD consistently and I know only one other person in my world who is as productive as me.

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February, 2023

Jean Valjean