Let’s face it: most of us procrastinate. We’ve got a million great ideas to improve our career potential, maybe we’ve even written them down on a to-do list; yet we convince ourselves that we’ll get to the list tomorrow, next week, or (yikes!) next year. And time keeps ticking away. But feeling bad about it only reduces our energy levels, which creates a vicious cycle. How can we break the cycle? Here are a few tips.

First off, just know you’re going to have to do things that make you uncomfortable. If something has to be done, whether it be a phone call you’re dreading, a trip across town, reworking your website, or replacing a scene partner, do it sooner rather than later. That way you won’t spend your day being haunted by those tasks that make you uneasy. And you’ll be energized by the sense that you’re getting important things done right away. This builds momentum early in the day.

That being said, know your own unique energy patterns and work with them. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, consciously schedule work that requires serious focus to coincide with your peak energy levels. If you have to learn your sides by tomorrow, don’t put it off till bedtime when you’re ready to nod off.

Of course, you’ll have a better quality of energy if you take good care of yourself. By following all those healthy habits your mom ingrained in you from eating your vegetables, to getting daily exercise, to sleeping eight hours a night, you’ll reap the benefits for your acting career. First, you’ll look and feel more vibrant. That’s kind of critical! And secondly, you’ll have more get up and go to focus on your career—and you won’t waste as much time tending to tasks when you’re feeling sluggish or less confident.

Set your priorities and stick to them. This means saying no to people and activities that take attention from your ostensible goals. If you’re going to get headshots tomorrow, you might want to say “no” to your friend’s slammin’ party. Sylvester Stallone talks about writing the screenplay for Rocky; he felt lonely while his friends partied the night away. It’s safe to say, he doesn’t regret his decision to hunker down and get it done. Granted, this is not always easy. There are times, for example, when family and friends really need your help. Or you may fall ill, and time well spent is time recovering. But, in your life, almost exclusively you need to spend your time doing things that will matter in the long run. Try this for just a month and see what good stuff happens. Also, as for the tasks that may mitigate your career goals, it helps to set a time limit. Be clear with yourself, “Yes, I can veg out with reality TV—for 30 minutes.”

And please do not make the mistake of minimizing activities that waste 5-15 minutes at a clip. Just as buying a daily three-dollar cup of coffee will cost you almost $1,100 by year’s end, those wasted minutes will really add up. Consider the strides you might have made had you used those many minutes networking rather than mindlessly surfing the internet. I mean, how interesting is Kim Kardashian’s hair style anyway?! To do this effectively, first you’ll need to pay close attention throughout your day to discover how much time you’re actually wasting, and on what. Once you can pinpoint your inefficiencies, you’ll be empowered to spend your days the way you really want to. And as far as tasks that you must do but find yourself spending way too much time on? Consider using a timer to complete these tasks quickly and with fewer distractions. The louder the buzzer, the better.

And, last of all, understand that we go through times when we’re less productive than usual. But don’t let that stop you from strategizing how you can do more, achieve more, enjoy your life more, and succeed beyond your wildest expectations!

 

 

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