At Juilliard, just about any point in the semester is the “busiest” time of year, but it really has felt like one deadline after the other lately!
Entering the professional artistic world means constantly managing deadlines, rehearsing for performances, and maintaining a professional reputation and work flow. On top of juggling being a full-time student with learning new rep and self-marketing, falling behind in any little way can end up snowballing rapidly.
The best way I’ve found for staying on track is putting everything in a calendar. I used to always tell myself, “Oh, I’ll remember that!” but I can’t see past lunch on any given day, let alone a meeting next weekend or a performance eleven months from now! Online calendars or calendar apps are fantastic because I can easily log everything on my phone and I can access it from any device. In high school, I kept a physical planner with me, and when I lived in the dorm, I kept a weekly calendar on my desk and wrote down everything on there because I was able to return to my room frequently to work. I do prefer writing dates and to-dos down, but since I can’t return home as frequently, it’s much easier to keep everything digital. In case I forget a planner or my phone at home, I’m still able to access my calendar on a school computer (or even a friend’s phone in a pinch) if need be.
I also keep a to-do list with me at all times to write down everything from “study for history exam Friday” to “go grocery shopping or you will starve!!!!” Some people can keep track of everything in their heads, but I absolutely am not one of them. Having a to-do list helps me break down larger projects and gives me goals to accomplish for the day or week, ensuring that I get the day-to-day little things done (to avoid the dreaded pile-up of errands and homework!).
For long-term projects, deadlines, or goals, I like to keep a physical list as well and display it somewhere I look often. For some people, this might be a bulletin board above their desk, their mirror, or even the inside of their instrument case. I have it sorted into categories like “Competitions,” “Goals,” or “Auditions.” If they have deadlines, I include them as well. Then I break up the goal into subcategories (it’s not exactly necessary to go this far, but it certainly helped keep me organized). If I accomplish a goal or meet a deadline, I cross it out—such a satisfying feeling! Having a physical list of the broader goals helps me stay focused on the big picture instead of getting caught up only in the little to-dos.
The final way I stay focused with deadlines is to make sure I’m responding to emails punctually! This is the hardest one for me because it’s so easy to lose important emails in the sea of my inbox, but I try to respond to all correspondences within 24 hours. (And if there’s a deadline or date in the email, I put that in my calendar as well so I don’t forget about it!) I’m able to keep up with everything so much more efficiently this way, and it also helps create and maintain a professional reputation that others notice and appreciate.
There are so many upcoming things I need to complete, so I’ll be buried in my to-do list until Thanksgiving break, which is only a week away now!