How to really get things done.

by Kenji Maeda on January 19, 2009

checklistOne of the difficult things that comes up for almost all actors at one point or another is the act of balancing the cost of living with the cost of acting. Some are lucky to have a job that is flexible enough to go to auditions and have a fairly open schedule if cast in a project. Another difficulty is trying to stay motivated when it feels like we’re not progressing as fast as we wish we were.

So how do we realistically work with the challenges we are faced with? To start, it can be as easy as writing down your goals. Write a list of the goals you wish to accomplish in your career / life and strategically place them in the order you think would be the most effective. Physically writing a list is much more effective than just saying it in your head because you have that visual reminder above your desk or on your door or wherever you will likely see it every day. Place it someplace uncluttered (like the wall or your journal) where other papers and books won’t hide it and make you forget.

What should the list look like?
Be realistic and specific! Writing “Star in a 50 million dollar movie” as your only goal is ambitious and could be added to the list, but it shouldn’t be the only thing there. It’s a great long-term goal, but what are the many small steps you need to take in order for you to get there?

Here are some examples…

  • Get new headshots – too broad, instead use something like
    • Review my top 5 photographer portfolios
    • Choose 3 to call to confirm pricing, get a feel for who they are, and their process.
  • Join a new acting class
    • Research some schools I want to go to
    • Narrow down my list and request to audit those classes
  • Read a script every week (list specific ones)
  • Go to *insert some kind of event* and introduce myself to 5 people
  • Go to at least 2 local events a month (list them!)
  • Submit myself to at least 4 auditions (theatre, student, indie, etc…) this month.

By breaking down a bigger task to more manageable steps you will soon find that you are actually accomplishing more than you might think.  You could have a list of 45 tasks which consist of 100 steps, and if you can get at least one (preferably more) done every day then it’s one less thing to worry about when you wake up. Of course the list will continue to grow and shrink but you will have that feeling of accomplishment every time you grab that pen to cross one of those off.

What tips do you have to really get things done?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda Watters January 23, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Staying organized in a key factor in getting things done. You can live like a slob in all areas of your life except your acting business. How many jobs have been lost because actors *forgot* they had an audition due to disorganization? Or, they couldn’t submit a resume because they didn’t have all the information handy to compile it? (I once lost 54 days of stand-in work due to my disorganization and got 3 weeks work due to someone else’s forgetfullness!)

Here are a few basic tips:

– Get a desk
– Get a filing cabinet
– Put your acting business materials and supplies in your filing cabinet.
– Keep suppiles like blank paper and pens (that work) on your desk.
– Keep your phone within arms’s reach of your desk
– Keep your desk tidy and organized.
– Keep a large enough calender posted on the wall above your desk to refer to. Write your appointments and auditions on your calender. Look at your calendar every day.

I know this sounds very basic but many people don’t actually have a real desk to work at! Go get one.
If you can find it, you can do it!

I use both a filing cabinet and binders. I track my submissions & bookings in my “Auditions” binder and maintain other binders titled “Research & Reference”, “Voicework” and “Development”.

I’ve also tricked out my home office with both a Whiteboard,Large corkboard, IKEA organizers and,of course, filing cabinets. Gee, I could totally give a workshop on “How to Set up a Home Office” :)

Okay, that my two bits.
Goodluck in all your careers!

Kenji Maeda January 25, 2009 at 10:51 pm

@ Linda

Those are great points you made, Linda. You’re right because having an actual space to do things that are business related can really make a difference in being organized but also simply for the head space. It can allow for more focus.

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