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Making the Most of the Hours in the Day

Amanda Charney shares time-management tips from both fellow theater students and a USC Health Educator. logo

Where does the time go?

When I started this semester, I thought that not being in a show would mean copious amounts of free time, but here I am with a packed 18 unit schedule and 18 hour days, even when I don't have rehearsal four hours a night. How did I get by when my life was spent mostly in a theater?! Sometimes, there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to check off everything on my "to do" list.

Let's talk about time. (It's wibbly wobbly. It's timey wimey.) There somehow never seems to be enough of it, especially for a theater major! So what do you do when you have classes, midterms, papers, rehearsal, and no time to eat, let alone study?

Here's what some theater students have to say on the subject:

"Never going into [a rehearsal process] thinking everything will be planned out," advises Katie Porter, sophomore BA. "You will have some late nights scrambling to do homework you haven't had the time to do. You have to have the sense to say 'no' to things you don't have time for. But try to stay on top of things best you can, and you'll be fine."

Theater student Dani Haberman actually prefers the structured schedule that comes with having rehearsals every week. "I find that I manage my time better when I am involved in a production. I know that I will be in rehearsal from this time to this time, and I have to fit everything else in between. It makes me more motivated because I know my time is limited."

And then, of course, there are those of us who have nifty last resorts that keep us going. "I've taught myself how to sleep sitting up so that I can rest backstage before I have to go on," says Liz Folie. "I also slightly abuse 5-hour energy."

We've all learned little tricks to keep us plugging away through the tightest of times, but for an outside opinion, universities often provide people trained to ease your way. Brittany New, a Health Educator at USC, has some tried and true tips for making the most of the limited time you have. "Better managing one's time can snowball into many other positive health behavior changes. Here are some time management tips that can be implemented immediately:

1) Make a to-do list everyday--Include realistic goals (i.e. "Write draft one of paper) and prioritize the items that need to be done first.

2) Delegate tasks that others can help you with--It's okay to ask for help!

3) Schedule everything into your daily routine--include class, study time, co-curricular activities, free/social time, exercise, bedtime, etc.

4) Schedule times that you will check email and Facebook--Checking these often or right before a task can get you off track.

In terms of stress management, students should find what works for them in terms of reducing stress. It is great to have stress-managing activities scheduled into one's routine, and also a thing that can be performed as needed."

It might be tough to adjust to a regime like this (as a Facebook and StumbleUpon addict, I would know). When you get home from rehearsal late at night, the last thing you want to do is haul out the books and study. Still, there are so many ways to keep motivated! Something I do is use iCal to plan out exactly when I'll take that break to watch How I Met Your Mother or microwave some popcorn as a reward. When I'm supposed to be working, I have an application I downloaded called "Self Control" that blocks Facebook for me! Willpower is now downloadable!

I know it may seem like this article is less about theater and more about being a good student, but that's what we are when it comes down to it: students. Even though our path through college is different from people who just have to make good grades, managing our time and stress is even more vital to us as performers because of our absurd schedules.

As we launch into midterms and papers - and for some of us, production week already - keep your chin up, get sleep, and stay sane! It'll be spring break before you know it!


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