The Actors Voice
by Bonnie Gillespie
week of August 31, 2015
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/002023.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.
I know. It’s a hilarious title for a column written by someone who is quite possibly the queen of taking on a whole bunch o’ things at once and getting it all done well. How dare I suggest that something I *clearly* do daily is something NOT to do?!?
Welp, exactly. If anyone knows how exhausting and futile and potentially harmful multitasking can be, it’s this chica. So, let’s talk through how multitasking *can* work to our advantage and at what point switching off all the STUFF actually helps our creativity make a leap to the next tier.
There’s something I call “embracing inefficiency.” Heck, I wrote about it nearly a decade ago at my ye olde blog, should you want to read a very long treatise on the glory that is killing off multitasking while streamlining email. (OMG, I love the parallels, as I’ve committed to be pretty much OFF email by 2016, and that I was working on that in 2006 is not lost on me.)
Embracing inefficiency is not meant for those who are slackers, non-list-makers, no-show-ers, or those folks who really DO need to treat their business more like (oh, I don’t know) a BUSINESS. This is meant for the high-achievers, the Type-A taskmasters, the “90% is a failing grade and how dare you suggest I get okay with 10% imperfection” types such as, again, this chica.
It’s not a bad idea to launch at 85% when you’re the type who believes perfection is achievable. But when you’re pushing several agendas forward simultaneously — which multitaskers do — here’s what you’re ALSO doing to your brilliant, creative, craft-based brain: You’re training it to cover a lot of territory at once, always. You’re teaching yourself to not be present. You’re conditioning your sensitive, creative soul to do anything but RELAX, ever.
And, um, I don’t know what you know about the creative process, but it needs rest as much as it needs exertion. When you push yourself to pay attention to — and master — so very many things at once, you make it impossible to sleep, to meditate, to even take a beat within a scene when that scene is begging for the moment of SPACE.
If this is you, here are some ideas for working space back into your life — and therefore breathing life back into your craft itself — that I want you to try out. Turn off notifications. You’re not a surgeon whose phone is going off because you’re needed for a life-saving operation. Yes, your agent should always be able to get in touch with you and you should have regular check-ins when you’ve gone off the grid even for an hour to be sure you’re not missing a rush call or an Actors Access submission opportunity. Of course. But I want you to look at how many times you let Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or Snapchat or Periscope or Blab or Game of War bark at you in a day. And then tell me how many of those times were you receiving an *actual* casting opportunity; a right-then, OMG, drop everything, must go audition alert.
Next, no screens in the bedroom. Seriously. Not a television set, not a computer monitor, not a laptop, not a tablet, not an eBook reader, not a smart phone, not even a digital clock. If you must have an alarm clock, make it an old-fashioned clock with hands and a bell you can set to ring, because there’s something about that moment when we stir in the night, check the clock, and then go into obsessive mode about “how little sleep” we’re gonna get if we were to finally fall back asleep now. How ’bout now? No, now. Augh! It’s the worst.
Finally, timed brilliance. John August calls them writing sprints. It’s incredibly simple and really effective. It’s, “I’m gonna work on my website for 40 solid minutes, no distractions, no exceptions,” and the phone goes into airplane mode, the email account is disabled, and the only things in your world relate to finally getting that dang bio reworked and trading out that still from the set for the newer, cooler one.
Whether it’s work on your actor tools, work on your craft, work on updating your survival job resumé so you can get a better gig to support your creative career, cleaning your house, or catching up with a friend over cocktails, it’s the CLOCKING IN for it that’s important. If I have a superpower, it’s compartmentalization. Well, truthfully, I have at least two and one of them is bringing together the best people on the planet, making sure they know one another, then standing back while they make magic and I look brilliant. But that compartmentalization thing is pretty dang handy, too.
I’m 100% with you when I’m with you. I’m not checking texts, I’m not keeping my eye on what else might be happening to see if there’s something more important for my attention, and I’m not actually multitasking. Even though I’m good at that. Because training my brain to NOT multitask (until it’s time to do so, at which point I clock in for that) is something that makes me more creative when I’m in THAT zone.
Looking to boost your creative fire? Seeking something more exciting in your own acting? Want your craft to be its best? Stop multitasking. Re-read this week’s article without a half-dozen other things happening at the same time. Really be present. For everything. We’ll notice it in your artistic abilities and the potential payoffs for that are spectacular.
Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Follow Bonnie on Twitter, circle up at Google+, subscribe at YouTube, download THE WORK podcast at iTunes, or hit “like” at the Facebook. For cool weekly emails from Bon and a free MP3, opt on in. Looking for Self-Management for Actors coaching? START HERE! Yay!