Time Management for a Dancer's Schedule

You know those people who just seem to have it altogether? You see them on Instagram posing with a latte and their golden doodle puppy and you can’t help but feel like their laundry is folded and neatly organized in the latest closet design from Pottery Barn. It's like time management is their superpower, and handling a crazy schedule is no big deal! Yeah… those people ruin it for all of us. Can we please cool it on the UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS people! There is no such thing as perfection; and yet, we are constantly trying to chase after it. Life is messy and somewhat chaotic. As dancers, we know this and we are all just doing the best we can. So let’s get real for a moment - how can we aim for organization and success while bypassing the unrealistic standards of society?

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Let’s just get one thing clear: nothing will be perfect and put together all the time. If you’re a type A personality like myself, you probably struggle with this too. You want everything to be nice and organized one hundred percent of the time, but that's just not a realistic expectation for yourself. However, there is something to be said for the skill of time management. We hear this phrase casually thrown around in conversation but never fully explained. In my opinion, time management is the key to success as a dancer and artistic professional. Will the journey always be Instagram worthy, no, but making the best possible use of your time is a great place to start. So let’s unpack this little phrase, shall we? Time management… it's such a loaded term that's full of expectations, but lacking explanation. Lately I have been trying to dig a little deeper and figure out how to really “manage” my time. Here is what I have discovered…

  1. You have to plan ahead. You cannot begin to manage your time until you know what kind of time you have. For example, if you know you’re going to have rehearsals from 5-10pm next week, then you’ll need to fit your work, errands, and tasks into your morning routine. So rule one… be one step ahead of your schedule at all times.
  2. Make every moment count. Right now I am writing this article on a plane, because I know that when I land I have to go straight to a meeting. This two hour flight is priceless work time for me, and while I’d rather be reading my novel, I know that writing this article right now will keep me on track to meet all of my deadlines. Look at your schedule for what I like to call “hours of opportunity.” Use that hour between rehearsal to catch up on emails or phone calls. Use your two hour break between shows to research new audition opportunities. Make smart use of your time and all the moments in between the big commitments of your day.
  3. Prep the night before. If I don’t pack my gym clothes, my dance clothes, and my work clothes the night before, it just won’t happen. My motivation to workout or go to dance class will drop to an all time low if I have to go all the way home to change! It’s just a fact. Why? Because I am human, and to me going home means pajamas and nap time. So know yourself, know your habits, and know what you need to prepare in order to succeed the next day.
  4. Don’t forget to schedule down time. Relaxation you say? What is this time off you speak of, you ask? I know we hardly ever think of scheduling time to relax, but it’s actually a crucial part of time management (and it's good for your brain!). Think about your week ahead and plan time for yourself. It’ll help keep you balanced and centered during your week, especially when things are hectic.

As dancers, our schedules are crazy and constantly prone to change. Rehearsals get moved, work schedules shift, and last minute auditions come up. We are constantly on our toes, figuratively and literally. But maybe exploring time management and the benefits of being one step ahead of your schedule can help you. How do you practice time management? What are some techniques you use to manage your busy schedule?

About the author

Keira Whitaker is a dedicated teacher, performer, and choreographer, who has been dancing for the past 21 years. She recently graduated from the University of California Irvine with a BFA in Dance performance and a minor in English.