Over the last 6 years, I’ve coached literally hundreds of actors on what it takes to set strategic goals, both inside and outside of their acting careers. If you missed my recent article for Casting Networks on that very process, check it out by clicking here. However, setting your goals is only one half of the equation here. To accomplish your goals, you’re going to need to find time to attack them—something many actors tell me they struggle with.
Do you often find yourself feeling very busy, but not very productive? We’ve all been there, and it’s no fun at all. You spend your entire day fighting mini-fires, doing menial tasks, and never actually get stuck into the things that you really desire from life. Well, in this article, I’d like to share 10 super-simple steps that you can take to literally 10x your productivity. Utilise these and you’ll not only wake up productive, but you’ll push your productivity to all new levels and beyond.
1. It All Begins the Night Before
My most productive days, all start the night before—a positive outlook, a dash of planning and a great night’s rest are critical for success in the morning.
- Grab your journal and list 3 wins
- A positive focus, whilst actively practicing gratitude, has been scientifically proven to boost your mood and overall confidence. For that reason, you should spend 15 minutes each evening, listing 3 things that went well for you that day. These don’t have to be million dollar moments – a meal with friends, a phone call from your agent, or making someone smile via a random act of kindness, are all really positive wins, which you should be grateful for. Grateful people also sleep better – (seriously – a 2011 study published in ‘Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being’, proved just that!
- Create a ‘Punch List’
- Your ‘Punch List’ is a list of your 3 MUST-DO activities for the next day. What do you need from the next day? Perhaps your goal is to get 3 emails off to casting directors, book in a headshot session, then go and watch that brand new cinema release, which you know is going to inspire that short film idea in your head right now. It’s hard to hit your goals, when you don’t know where the goal posts are. Be SPECIFIC and prioritise. The biggest task should come first – if appropriate. I use a great app called Workflowy for my ‘Punch List.’ Research suggests that simply writing out your ‘Punch List’, gives you 42% more chance of accomplishing your goals.
- Set out your clothes for the next day
- I know this sounds so basic, but it makes a HUGE difference in my life. One thing that really slows us down is decision making. Whether it’s your gym kit, or your choice of clothes for an audition—lay everything out the night before. You’ll step into the day with extra momentum if you do
- Now SLEEP
- I’ve done a ton of research on sleep, and it’s insanely important for high-performers. If you’re getting into bed, and spending 2 hours on your iPad, watching Netflix, you’re killing your productivity. On a scientific level, the blue light from your phone or tablet’s screen, shuts off melatonin production – a key hormone, which regulates sleep. If you suffer from insomnia, and sit up on Facebook – waiting to feel tired – you’ve probably just discovered why you never feel tired. Kill the lights, and get to sleep. You MUST get a minimum of 6 hours sleep to perform well the next day
2. Wake Up Productive
If you followed the steps above, you’re going to wake up productive – and you’ll be ready to maximise on some of the most important hours of the day.
- Enrich your mind
- The quality of your output, is wholly depended on your input. If you aren’t filling your well, you’ll have nothing to give back to the world. I spend the first hour of my day listening to inspiring audiobooks, podcasts and interviews – from some of the greatest thought-leaders, acting industry folk and high-performance mentors on the planet. I find a great time to get this in, is during my walk to the gym, throughout my workout, and on my walk back home
- Strenuous exercise BEFORE 8AM
- Just like sleep, the science behind exercise – and the link to high-performance, is undeniable. In the early morning hours, crucial hormones (i.e., testosterone) that help build muscle mass are elevated in the body. By exercising in the morning, you’re taking advantage of these naturally circulating hormones as they’re peaking, rather than later in the day when they’re lower. Getting your workout in before 8AM, also frees up your entire day – giving you plenty of time to attack your ‘Punch List’
- Eat a ‘Bulletproof’ breakfast
- I spend a lot of time coaching my ‘Bulletproof Actor’ students on high-performance nutrition – it’s integral for productivity. Again, you are only going to get out of your body, what you put into it. You can grab a free eBook on ‘Bulletproof’ breakfasts from my resident precision nutrition guru, Luis Diaz, by clicking here.
3. Be Free to Focus
After maximising the morning hours, it’s time to start attacking your ‘Punch List’ and your MUST- DO activities. Unfortunately, there are a million and one distractions in the modern world. Implement the following and you’ll avoid the worst of these.
- Stop answering the phone
- Unless a call is planned, or one comes through from your agent, stay well clear from answering your phone throughout the day. The quickest way to get swept up in someone else’s agenda is to accept their call. Before you know it, your ‘Punch List’ will be pushed to one side, and you’ll begin putting out fires for somebody else. You can catch up on messages at a time to suit YOU!
- Turn off your notifications
- Yes, I know social media is important to you as an actor – it absolutely has its place inside your career – BUT, if you are constantly being bombarded with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram notifications, you WILL get distracted. If you don’t get your emails out in time, because you got preoccupied by what Kim Kardashian was having for her dinner – then you deserve to lose. I have an iPhone, and I find the best way to deal with notifications is to simply use ‘Do Not Disturb’. I’m sure Android devices have something similar.
- Start saying ‘No’
- So many actors are petrified of saying ‘no’, because they suffer from major FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). The most successful people I know say ‘no’ to practically everything in life – as they know that every time they do say ‘yes’, they inadvertently have to say ‘no’ to something else. Never say ‘yes’ to something immediately. Even if it sounds like a great opportunity, take some time out. Is the activity really going to contribute to your current goals and mission? Never say ‘yes’ to someone else, when in reality you are saying ‘no’ to yourself.
An actors’ life is unpredictable at the best of times, so it’s crucial that you operate at your peak. When we’re at our most productive, the surprises that would usually derail us, merely set us back a day or two. By starting the night before, maximising our morning hours, and staying focused throughout the day, it’s more than possible to bring home the wins day after day.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above, so do tweet me and let me know which is your favourite productivity hack. You can tweet @rossagrant, as well as @ActOnThisTV and I’ll make sure I reply to everyone who does!
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