Editor's Note: The following is excerpted from Carol Kirkpatrick’s “Time Management” chapter of her book ARIA READY – The Business of Singing. In this excerpt, Kirkpatrick offers practical advice to singers in the area of using the valuable resource of time. Ms. Kirkpatrick lists helpful ways for artists to evaluate, manage, and maximize their time resources.
Three of the most important resources in life are TIME, ENERGY, AND MONEY. Energy and money can be regenerated, but time cannot; therefore, it is the most precious commodity there is. This minute, hour, day, month, year can never be duplicated again. Learning to be in the moment will help you to use your time more efficiently. Often, finding the time to practice or study music seems impossible, especially when you hold a fulltime job, or are going to school full time. It is difficult, but it can be done.
Here is one method of discovering extra time in your day. Find out how you spend your time during a week.
Keep a time log. In a special notebook, record and log every minute of your waking day for one week, starting rom the time you get up until the time you go to bed.
Keep track of all your activities and when you do them. This will help you better understand which times of day are your peak concentration times and when you are at your lowest energy times.
Keep this time log with you at all times and try to write down how often you change activities, what they are, and how much time they took.
Record everything from brushing your teeth, travel time getting to work or school, mealtimes, napping, practicing, to watching TV and socializing. Don’t try to judge any of these things, just record them.
When the week of keeping track of your activities is up, analyze how you spent your time.
Make categories such as getting ready for work, travel to work, meals, work, watching TV, practicing, etc. Add up the hours for each activity. Prioritize your list. This will give you a pretty good idea of where and how you are spending your time.
See if there is any wasted or extra time you could be spending more wisely.
Consider these time management tips.
Set aside 10 - 15 minutes every morning or evening to get internally centered and to plan for the upcoming day. If you choose to do this in the morning, sit quietly for a few minutes after getting ready for the day’s activities. Focus only on what you hear for just a few minutes. When you are finished, create a prioritized to do list for that day. If you choose to do this in the evening, sit quietly just before going to bed for a few minutes, letting your body come to rest and the listening go out as far as it can. When you are finished, create your prioritized list of activities for the following day.
Don’t fall into the trap of over commitment. Plan only what you know you can comfortably accomplish, or you will start feeling stressed out.
Make sure you schedule practicing into your “best time to concentrate” slot.
Can you get up earlier to accomplish some of your “to do” list?
Could you arrange with your boss to come in earlier and leave earlier, or come in later and leave later to give you the extra hour to practice or to take a voice lesson or coaching?
Is it possible to arrange a longer lunch hour and find some- place in the area to practice — a church, spare room, etc.?
Follow your schedule, but remember it is not written in stone. Things can and often do change.
When making a “to do” list, do the hardest and least desir- able task first. Get it off your plate, and the rest of the day will be easier and more enjoyable.
Check your list at the end of each day to see how your schedule is working. Did you put too much on your plate, or were you able to handle most of the tasks? A checklist or “to do” list is a great learning tool. Utilize it.
Handle mail only once. Read it, then put it in the appro- priate place for future action. (folder for bills to be paid, applications to be filled out, or throw it out.)
Give yourself a block of time to do phone calls. Get them all over with at once.
Screen your calls by leaving your answering machine on when you are at home. Make sure the volume is turned off or down so you are not distracted by the ring or message. Focus on your task at hand. When the task is done, listen to the messages and answer the important business ones first.
If you leave messages, make sure they are short and to the point with all the information the person you are calling will need to return your call, including when would be the best time to reach you.
It is always best to make important business calls (arranging auditions, managers, new coaches, etc.) Tuesday through Thursday. Monday and Friday are usually too busy and you won’t get through to them, or you won’t have their full attention.
To leave your frustrations and stresses of work behind, find a specific spot to dump them on your way home.
Visualize and feel it happen. If it’s really important they will be there tomorrow when you go back to work and you can always pick them up again at the same spot.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh a little.
Knowing that time is the one irreplaceable component (unlike energy or money) is the first step to becoming more efficient with your life situation. Following the suggestions given here regularly will put you on the path to being more in control of your life. You will learn to accomplish more in a shorter period of time and with more efficiency. Managing your time well is the goal.
About the Author: Throughout America and Europe, Dramatic Soprano, Carol Kirkpatrick has thrilled audiences and critics. Ms. Kirkpatrick has been a soloist with many major orchestras and has performed leading roles in some of the most prestigious opera houses throughout the United States and Europe. She both taught and performed as an Artist in Residence at the Aspen Musical Festival. Through the Columbia Artists Community Concert Series, Ms. Kirpatrick presented recitals throughout America to great acclaim. She has worked with conductors such as Herbert Grossman, Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, Georges Pretre, Horst Stein, James Levine, and Christopher Keene.
Ms. Kirkpatrick continues to be called upon to adjudicate auditions such as the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera Auditions. In addition to teaching voice, she presents Master Classes on interpreting the text through music and keeps up a busy workshop schedule presenting materials related to her recently published book ARIA READY – The Business of Singing. This workshop explores some bold, daring, interesting and possibly new concepts that help the emerging professional establish and maintain the process and activities of a vocal career. Ms. Kirkpatrick currently resides in New York City.
ARIA READY - The Business of Singing, published by Leyerle Publications, is available for purchase at www.kirkpatrickproductions.com, www.tismusic.com, or http://bookstore.juilliard.edu. The book is also available for order by calling Leyerle Publications at 585-658-2193 or Patelson’s Music Store at 212-757-5587.