Something I get asked about a lot is how I manage to fit everything into my schedule. Well… the simple answer is that often, I don’t! Managing your time and fitting everything in means prioritising and often compromising. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed, especially if you’re reading this as a fellow performer. Auditions, shows, keeping fit, meal prepping/eating healthily, socialising, earning money, talking to family, admin, looking after children if you’re a parent (!)… need I go on? It can be a tricky life to navigate but with a few simple tweaks you can learn to manage things a lot more efficiently.
Finding the things that make you feel good and keep you collected is the first step. I’ve spent a long time working out the things that keep me ticking along nicely and the first things I turn to when I begin to feel overwhelmed are the things that I can CONTROL. It’s easy to become anxious about things that are out of our control- things that haven’t happened yet, waiting to hear about a job, extra workload etc. At School of Rock we’re currently being pulled in for a lot of extra rehearsals due to cast change and it’s very easy to become stressed about the lack of time I have. Letting go of the things you aren’t in control of is easier said than done I know… but if you can try, you’ll find yourself rewarded.
So when you’re pushed for time what are the things that can be controlled? For me, I can control my diet. Even with a tight schedule I really try to find the time and prioritise cooking some healthy meals for the day/days ahead. I’ve taken the time to find quick and healthy recipes that are both yummy and satisfying. If you need some inspiration then I can’t recommend Gousto or other similar recipe boxes more. When I first turned veggie I struggled to find inspiring dishes and a subscription to Gousto really helped me out. Not only do they offer a great range of options they also measure everything out for you perfectly which brings prep time down significantly. Definitely don’t pay full price though, you can get 50% off using a referral code (ask me if you want mine!) and you come away with a great selection of recipes for future use once your subscription is over. Also, become friends with your freezer. Freeze those extra servings you’ve made for another day. I keep frozen fruit, spinach and kale in the freezer too so I can whizz a smoothie up quickly when I want to. If time is really pressed, which it often is with my current schedule, I am particularly lucky working in central London where there are a lot of healthy food choices around too.
As many of you probably know or can tell, I’m a bit of an exercise nut. So what happens when I can’t fit the gym into my schedule or get on my yoga mat every day? Well in no uncertain terms I make SURE I can get on my mat somehow. Not necessarily rolling it out literally, but finding the odd few minutes to breathe or stretch… it doesn’t always have to be a full session. Even 5-10 minutes can calm my mind and give me that little boost I need. Last week we had a few 10am starts which meant a full day of rehearsals then a show in the evening. Obviously exhausting but also tough on the time management front. As in most technical rehearsals there was a lot of sitting about so instead of scrolling on my phone or eating obscene amounts (tempting!) I found space to either get some admin done on my laptop, do some stretching, some breathing and even one day managed to get my resistance bands out and do some leg workouts! If you’re like me it can be difficult mentally when you’re used to having a certain routine but I try to remind myself that it’s temporary and it’s also good for us to be out of our comfort zones sometimes.
If you’re NOT like me and you find it easy to procrastinate then this takes me onto my next little tip… writing things down. Making lists. When your mind or schedule is so full it’s fit to burst then making a list or emptying your thoughts onto paper is one of the greatest ways of gaining some perspective. Get yourself a list book or a funky notebook (that you’ll actually WANT to write in!), some nice pens or pencils and get those thoughts out. I’m a bit of a list fan if I’m honest. I have a list book that I keep on my coffee table at home so that when I think of something that needs my attention I write it straight down- it’s kind of like a muggle’s pensieve for getting thoughts out of my mind to be dealt with later. If you’re a Harry Potter fan you’ll understand that reference, if you aren’t then sorry, moving on… Your notes on your phone are also perfect for this if you’re out and about. When you write down all the tasks that you need to complete you can clearly see which are more urgent than others, so when you’re pressed for time you’ll be able to prioritise. By physically being able to see what you have to do, you usually realise that it’s not as much as you thought so after you’ve completed everything you can reward yourself with some chill time or a nice cuppa. Win win!
Now…. let’s talk sleep. For me, sleep is an absolute must to keep me functioning at my best. We all know how important sleep is but it’s very easy when you’re working so much or under stress to slip into bad habits. I’m one of those lucky humans who can get in after work and go straight to bed but I know for a lot of people that there is some “winding down” time needed. Especially if you have adrenalin from performing or are quite active in your mind when you get home. If I’m experiencing either of these things then my winding down routine usually involves an episode of Family Guy or such like, a relaxing bath and then either 10 minutes of meditation or reading some of my book before I sleep. It’s quite obvious but screens before sleeping aren’t ideal due to the blue light they emit so trying to keep off your phone at least 30 minutes before bed is the goal if you can. Other than actually managing to drop off to sleep, these small things can help improve the quality of your sleep too which will really help you wake up feeling rested. I recently changed to sleeping on my back too which has significantly improved my sleep quality. It’s definitely worth doing some research into if you struggle with sleeping through the night. Takes a bit of perseverance but it’s worth it!
These are just a few things I know are in my control and that help me manage my time effectively. As I said, I don’t always manage as wonderfully as the above may indicate but that’s ok and knowing that it’s ok to get bogged down sometimes is half the battle. Finding ways that chill you out and sometimes being a bit strict with yourself is definitely the way forward too. Finding the balance between relaxing and indulging (because we can and must allow ourselves that downtime) and being proactive/working can be tough, but by getting to know your mind and body better you’ll start to understand when you should or need to give yourself a break. This is why I love yoga so much. Yoga has given me the tools both physically and mentally to understand myself so much better. I know when my body is craving rest or craving energising, I understand the signals it gives me to tell me I’m pushing the boundaries and likewise with my mind.
If you’re thinking about trying yoga then check out my YouTube channel which has a beginner yoga flow (video below) or if you’re a performer have a read of my first article on this page “How Yoga Can Improve Your Life As An Actor”. This will give you a few tips on where to start as well as giving you yet more reasons to try yoga!
Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts on any of my blogs or online content. If you have any other ways of managing your time that you find useful then I would love to hear about them!
Love, light and all the extra time you need,
Facebook: Musical Theatre Yogi- Performer, Yoga Teacher & Personal Trainer