Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Priority Scheduling

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As singers, we can be some of the busiest people on the planet. When pursuing an opera career most of us are not blessed with great wealth, so we have at least three or four jobs on top of our job as an opera singer, and prioritizing can be difficult.

Here are a few ideas to help you with managing your time as an opera singer:

Use a calendar. Most people can use their fancy computers or phones to keep their calendars updated, but even if you are technically challenged it’s okay, because you can still buy any type of day planner that you can think of. The important thing is to find a calendar that works for you, and use it!

Color Code your calendar. Use different colors for each job, and make sure everything is up to date to your best ability. Even if one of your jobs is consistent, make sure it is always listed on your calendar, because it will help you plan out your day.

If at all possible, set up your schedule with your best paying jobs. If you can, make it so that you still have two days off a week, so you still have “your weekend.” “Your weekend” can be used to travel to New York for lessons, or to catch up on other opera singing pursuits, or for actual time off to rest and spend time with family.

Okay, those are the basics. Here are the tricky ones:

Make a To-Do-List. The first to-do list you make should include everything that needs to get done from this moment until the end of time (or as far into the future as you can think). Make the list in categories. Write each job you have across the top of the page (you may need a lot of pages), and then list the things you need to get done under each category. Always include singing as a category. After coming up with your list, mark items by priority. Do any of these items have a deadline? If so, put them on your calendar. List the actual deadline, and then write down what day you will get it done on your calendar, based on when you have time to do it. Waiting until the last minute is not always the best option, but if you don’t make a list and prioritize, procrastination will happen.

Make a Daily To-Do List. This should be done nightly. Your first to-do list might be extremely overwhelming, which is why we make daily to-do lists. Make the list at the end of the night, before you go to bed, so when you wake up in the morning you have a plan of action.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew in a day. This is why the calendar is really helpful.  Look at how many hours you have during the day to actually get things done. Write down hourly what you will do.  
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EX: 9am – wake up
9:30am – exercise
10am – shower
11am – eat brunch
11:30 - E-mails
1:00 – Research and apply for auditions
2:00 – Practice
3:00 – E-mails
3:30 – Leave for work
4:00 – Teach
6:30 – Church Gig
8:00 – Dinner
8:30 – Emails – computer work – study music
9:30 – Spend time with friends/family
11:30 - Bed

When people write out a schedule, they are more likely to accomplish it.  The more specific you can be the better. Use your long to-do list to fill in your daily to-do list, and prioritize what needs to get done first.

Prioritize your memorization. Make a list of all the shows and concerts you are studying for. Decide how much time you will need for each, then set dates and deadlines for when you will have each show memorized. Work strategically to reach your goals. Practice what is coming up, not just what you feel like working on in the moment.

Stick to your plan, and see how wonderful it feels to be productive! It will give you the energy to get everything done.