I want to talk today about something that’s really getting in the way of my students who are trying to increase their Focus in their acting career.
An actor will sit down to put their mind on a specific goal, and immediately their attention is pulled to something other than their work. They might check social media and then get caught up in social (or political) drama. Or they get so wrapped up in the researching of a task that the task itself never gets done. In the end, no work is completed and the actor is left feeling like they’re just spinning their wheels with no traction to show for it.
I can imagine most of you are nodding your heads in recognition.
If you’re committed to treating your career like a true business, these little distractions are a dangerous form of self sabotage. I call these distractions NOISE.
Noise creates a chatter in your head that make it practically impossible to focus on this tasks at hand. Noise forces you to abandon what you’re committed to in service of something else less important.
Now, noise can happen for a lot of reasons, and oftentimes we feel like we have no control. But there are a couple of things you can do to eliminate the noise - even for a brief time - that will make your work much more successful.
1) Create a workspace where distractions are minimal.
This might mean clearing a place in your apartment where work is most easily done. Or it might mean taking yourself on a coffee date and working remotely. (I love Le Pain Quotidien - they have wifi and big tables!)
2) Turn off your phone.
Believe me, you can handle being inaccessible for an hour or two.
3) Pay attention to what kind of work-flow works best for you.
Most people work best for about 55 minutes, with a 5 minute break at the end of the hour. But some people prefer to work longer stretches with a longer break in between. Test out a few different types of work flows and see what’s best for you.
4) Digital or Analog?
Not everyone likes to work in the same medium - some love pen to paper and others love their digital devices. Figure out which of the two - or what combination of the two - works best for you. (This is especially useful when creating “to-do” lists! Try Todoist for digital track management, and the Passion Planner for a paper planner.)
5) Create a mini goal for your work session.
What would you like to get done in your first hour? Focus on doing NOTHING ELSE until that hour is complete. You may notice your mind wander, and that’s ok. Just don’t give into the wandering, and put your focus back where it belongs.
I’m really curious to find out what “noise” means to you and how it’s been getting in the way of having what you want. Leave a comment down below and let me know which of the above tips worked best for you to clear the noise!
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Erin Cronican’s career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. She is the Founder/Coach of The Actors’ Enterprise, co-founder and Managing Director of The Seeing Place Theater, and writes an “Experts” column for Backstage. To learn more, check out www.TheActorsEnterprise.org and find her on Twitter @ErinCronican.