Are You Allergic to Structure?

Written by Dallas Travers, CEC

The life an actor can be quite unpredictable. You might have your whole day structured perfectly and then a last minute audition throws your planning out the window. Most actors can agree that flexibility is crucial when it comes to your day job, your rehearsal schedule, and even your down time with family and friends, but flexibility can also create a major drawback to your acting business.

Many actors are allergic to structure. With a desire to stay open to unforeseen auditions and bookings, too many actors live week to week with no plan in place. Instead, you spend your days simply reacting to what happens around you rather than proactively creating the career you desire. Without a structured plan, it’s too difficult to measure how far you’ve come, to know precisely where you stand, and to visualize what’s possible for your future.

The secret to juggling your day job and your personal commitments with your acting opportunities is structure. And though it may sound like an impossible notion, structure will truly set you free.

Imagine two people with no improvisation training attempting to improvise together. Sure, they may create some funny moments, but the best improvisation happens when all players operate with the same rulebook. You must know some basic guidelines before you can create incredible improvisation.   The same is true with your time. If you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, you probably lack the structure you need to make the most of your time.

So let me share three tips to help you create structure in your life while leaving plenty of room for creativity, flexibility, and of course, auditions and bookings.

1. Start a Slush Fund

Reserve ninety minutes of open space on your calendar each day. This will allow you to catch up on tasks when you run behind schedule and move appointments easily when auditions arise. With the extra time built in already, unexpected changes won’t stress you out.

If you have a day job, you can bookend that commitment with extra slush-fund time. This way, if an audition arises, you can take an extended lunch break from work and still have time to catch up on work before you head home for the day.

2. Assign a Theme for Each Day

You’ll save a ton of time and energy when you group similar tasks together. So, assign a theme for each day of the week.

For example, every Thursday could be an errand day. Begin the day at the laundry mat, then pop over to the grocery store and finish up at the post office. As errands arise during the week, there’s no need to drop everything else because now you’ve got all day Thursday to run around town getting things done.

Let’s say you have acting class on Tuesday nights. Tuesday’ theme could be s creativity where you work on writing your screenplay, do some reading, and arrive at acting class already artistically plugged in.

3. Get External Accountability

Checking in with a buddy about your daily actions, your weekly accomplishments, your monthly roadblocks, and your yearly goals will keep you on track and help you generate bigger results quickly.

Find a like-minded actor from a film you shot or a class you attended to form a powerful accountability partnership. Then, commit to a phone call at least once per week where you share your weekly goals and celebrate one another’s progress.

If you can’t find the right accountability partner, check out www.astrid.com. This site features productivity tools and community support to help you knock out your to-do list.

Structure is not the enemy. In fact, structure provides the confidence you need to make quick decisions, the energy to finish your to-do list, and the time to be creative. So –just like improvisation– with a little structure, you can finally play.

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