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Posts Tagged ‘scheduling’

Finding my limits – How busy is too busy?

October 16, 2010 2 comments

Ah yes, the ever interesting question…

Am I too busy?

One of the key areas I’m focusing on this school year, is that of finding my limits, of seeing just how much I can cram into my life, of seeing just how that affects me. When I’m productive, I’m happy. But how much can I really get done?

Most days at school, I arrive ~9am, and leave ~9pm, give or take a few hours. This includes three real classes, one class I’m sitting in on (but not paying for or receiving credit for), two on-campus jobs (at the SIM lab and as a Peer Helping Student Coordinator), being the Fine Arts Student Senator on UVic’s Senate (including a temporary turn on the committee for appeals, as they needed me), and acting in four different theatre shows (A SATCo – Three Angry Pigs, an MFA Directing project – This Property is Condemned, a directing scene – from Picnic, and playing Quintus and Aemilius in VSS’s Titus Andronicus). I also did a shift as an SAT exam proctor on the weekend for a novel experience, and hung lights for the SATCos earlier today, for a refresher. Oh, and I’m performing in Theatresports next Sunday. And those are just the bigger items on my agenda.

Here’s a sample week on my calendar:

When I see that page, I don’t feel overwhelmed, I feel organized. In control. And with all that on my plate, for the most part, I’ve found that if I can schedule it, I can make it happen. If it’s something I legitimately want to do, and I can assign it a timeslot in my schedule, then I’ll be there. Except…


Except?

Well, the exceptions come as a result of one little side-effect of this schedule: I haven’t been getting enough sleep for the past month

and a half. Consistent  seven hour nights. And when I don’t get enough sleep, it’s not that I make the wrong decisions, persay, but rather, that I make the right decision, then ignore what I’ve already chosen until it’s too late to do what I wanted to. My brain still works, but isn’t always successful at kicking me into action.

Tonight, for example, I was looking forward to going to a friend’s birthday party, but also wanted some alone time. The decision was clear – to spend a bit of time at home, then show up to the gathering a little late. Except the ‘bit of time’ grew (without becoming more rewarding), because it’s easier to stay at home than to grab a bus. And because I’m somewhat sleep deprived, laziness won out over the decision I had already made. Sorry Jesse.

Which is really rather funny, because this means I am legitimately complaining about my own laziness, in the midst of that formidable schedule. đŸ™‚

 

But wouldn’t doing so many things make it hard to focus?

Surprisingly, no! Quite the opposite, in fact!

If I weren’t organized, then yes, I would be juggling too much in my head at once. But I have systems: I write a little agenda every night for the next day, and manage that incredibly useful calendar seen above.

I couldn’t possibly keep all my scheduled opportunities in my head at once, so I trust my systems, which allows me to really focus on each individual task, each item, one by one. Effective single-tasking, not frantic multitasking. I don’t feel stretched at all.

 

This Property Is Condemned

Image via Wikipedia

So, Andrew, what have you learned?

What I’m taking from this experience is that, if I get enough sleep (and possibly eat well enough, and have exercise in my life – though those often fall by the wayside as a result of a lack of sleep), my schedule can be filled from sun-up to sun-down, so long as it’s full of activities I find rewarding. My own personal breaking point, my limit, is not in how much ‘free time’ I have each week, but in whether or not I am taking good enough care of myself, physically, to abide by the intelligent decisions and choices I have made.

I’ve also been developing my awareness of when I feel less fulfilled, when I lose a couple of hours on the internet or in a game (when 20 minutes would have done), when a class just isn’t worth my time, or when I back down from a possibility of spending time with excellent people.

 

Ah, but Andrew, sometime you will just need to bite the bullet and spend a good deal of time on something that ain’t fulfilling.

Do I? Do I really? I mean, maybe you’re right. Graduation’s coming up, and who knows if I’ll swing my way into an awesome and fulfilling job… maybe I’ll be stuck editing company memos somewhere so I can pay rent and student loans… but what if, the magic what if, I don’t? What if I can charm my way into an ever happier, ever more fulfilling life? Ain’t that a possibility too?

For now, I do so love my patchwork quilt of a schedule, and until such a future is forced upon me, I’m going to take my time and enjoy it.

So long as I can get myself enough sleep, that is. đŸ™‚

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The dangers of a working summer for an actor.

May 2, 2010 4 comments

Perseid Night at The Centre of the Universe

Perseid Night - by Erika Joubert

The Problem

I am walking down a dangerous path — that of the full-time, not-so-acting-related summer job.

From Tuesday through September, I shall be back at the Centre of the Universe giving tours of what was the world’s largest optical telescope (93 years ago), running planetarium shows, holding summer camps, and teaching school groups. I genuinely enjoy working there; the staff are great people, the job doesn’t impose undue amounts of stress, and I get paid to learn more about the universe. But it isn’t acting. It pays for my tuition for the year, and forces me to exercise by requiring an hour-long bike ride to and from work (including a few kilometres up a mountain). But it isn’t acting, and, being an observatory, I need to, well, work in the nighttime. Go figure.

And night shifts mean no acting. No Shakespeare in the Park, no Fringe Festival, limited time with The Impromaniacs… and a tiring, long-commute, full-time job to boot.

A Little History

Over four prior co-op work terms, I haven’t a good track record at keeping up my passions. As a Granville Island Ambassador, Telus World of Science Science Facilitator, TRIUMF Tour Guide, and CU Astronomy Interpreter,  I wrote perhaps three short stories and half a play in total, and acted in a limited fashion with the Impromaniacs last summer, unnecessarily understudied for a Fringe Show, and competed in a monologue competition. That’s about all.

This used to worry me, that I could effectively live a life without writing or acting, a real-world life with a rent-paying, 9-5 (mostly) job and all that comes with it. But the truth is? My summers are rarely ever nearly as satisfying as what I do for the rest of my year at UVic, learning through workshops, plays, acting classes, movement pieces, voice techniques… my summers feel like something away from myself, outside of the stream of my life. Like I go on hiatus until September.

The Questions

But how can I keep up a hard dedication to my crafts when I’m waking up at 7am and getting home at 6pm, tired to my bones and soaking wet from the rain and muddy streets? How can I focus on movement and voice warm-ups, on honing my body through training programs and work-outs, when I’m losing sleep week by week and already biking for a couple of hours every day as part of my commute? When, rather than being encircled by a fleet of eagerly encouraging classmates, I’m surrounded instead by my collection of video games and television shows; when I’m all ‘socialed out’ by the time I get home, and don’t feel a desire to go out and interact with my lovely theatre community?

I’m not saying this to go all boo hoo hoo, poor artist me… I’m genuinely asking. Because my past summers have been all about doing professional work and living a home-life hermitry. About being the average working stiff who earns his keep, then ‘relaxes’ his brief evenings away. Granted, that keep includes a year’s tuition and rent and such to help hold me through the school year (when I also work 15-20 hours a week), but still.

I’ve been trying to solve this problem for years now.

My mind shouts to me to reach out to my community, to use my community’s positive pressures, like Graeme and his excellently thought-out work-out routine, like Impromaniacs shows, and like weekly writing groups. To corner myself into ensuring that I enter my final year at UVic armed with more than paid tuition, four unrelated months, and mostly-unrelated skills.

My sanity questions whether I can handle imposing more obligations on my schedule for a four-month-long stretch.

My dreams demand that I do better.

The Plea

I don’t have a tidy answer; no little epigram of wisdom to carry me through. So I’m asking: Any advice? What do you do to stay connected to your crafts in a full-time-job world?

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