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  • Writer's picturetriciahofacker

Time Management with Uta Hagen

Updated: May 20, 2019

How Uta Hagen's 6 steps for building a character helped me achieve life goals and better time manage.

For those who are unfamiliar with the legendary acting teacher Uta Hagen, you can understand her vibe more from this video . I became VERY familiar with her in college while I thought I had talent. (Hot inside scoop: I was just a mediocre actress) In her book, "A Challenge for the Actor", she lists 6 essential questions for actors to ask themselves, in order to get a deeper understanding of the character they portray. Those questions are:

1. Who am I?

2. What are the circumstances?

3. What are my relationships?

4. What do I want?

5. What is my obstacle?

6. What do I do to get what I want?

Let's use these questions to get a better understanding about how to manage expectations about our goals & objectives, focus on tasks at hand, and kick our To-Do list's ass. I hope Uta helps you as much as she helped me! Too bad it wasn't for her intended use. *shrug*

Who Am I?

- Are you an early bird or a night owl? Follow your natural rhythm and schedule your day around when you're most productive. If you are able to focus more at a particular time of day, it only makes sense to plan to chip away at your to-do list at that time.

- Consider your wardrobe - plan to wear clothes that make you feel your best or most comfortable. When you feel good, you'll be motivated to cross shit off that to do list. -Do you like to wake up early and plan, plan the night before, or maybe you don't make plans at all? Personally, if I have big day ahead, I create a list of the next day's priorities prior to bedtime. Whether it's on paper or on your phone - dump out your brain! Let it rest so you can sleep and give your brain a much needed reboot.

What Are the Circumstances?

- What activities are expected of you today? Be sure to know what your nonnegotiable tasks are for the day and plan around them. These nonnegotiable's can be jobs, doctors appointments, school drop off, class, date night, rehearsal, etc. If you know you're going to have a packed day, schedule some personal time for yourself to recharge. - If you need help figuring out your priorities, check out the Eisenhower matrix. Nerds everywhere, rejoice!

What Are My Relationships?

- How do you relate to yourself and your abilities? Are you confident that you can tackle the projects you've set for yourself today? It's ok to reschedule if you aren't ready to dedicate your focus.

- Who is there with you for the day? Child, Spouse, Parent, One Night Stand still sleeping in your bed (yaaasss, get it!)? Are you on good terms with these people? How much do they rely on you for support or vice versa? Consider your relationship to your surroundings. Are you happy, cold, stressed, fatigued, annoyed, excited, etc? All these things could interfere with your ability to focus through the day. -Assess your needs and prioritize how to work with (or around) these relationships.

What Do I Want?

- Are you looking for a promotion? Are you auditioning or on the job hunt? Are you on a time crunch for a project? Do you want to lost weight? How dire is this? Setting an appropriate timeline for yourself to achieve these goals will be key to your success. Set reminders along the way to keep you on track.

- Long term goals and short term goals should be considered when making your daily list. How do these goals help you reach your ultimate objective?

What Are My Obstacles?

- Obstacles can be physical or metaphorical. Time constraints may be out of your control, so try to plan where you are able! Do you need to plan more time to accommodate for long distance travel? Perhaps there is snow to be shoveled off your car, traffic, subway lines always running late. It's entirely possible that you are your own obstacle. Serious fears and self-doubt will surely hold you back.

- Challenge yourself to think about the glory of achieving your ultimate goal and balance everything the best you are able. - How much of an impact do these relationships have on your ability to achieve your goals for the day/weeek/month/year/life? Will you get in your own way? If you know you're going to have a packed day, schedule some personal time for yourself to recharge. - Remove as many distractions as possible. Set timers and reminders to help you stay focused. Put your phone on the other side of the room to charge. Turn off all pop up notifications on your devices. Wear headphones to eliminate outside noise. Write down ideas as they come to you, but don't loose focus of what you're doing.

What Do I Do To Get What I Want?

- In an ideal world: Make a list of objectives, make a timeline/plan, stick to the plan, achieve the goal. - But in more likely scenarios: Make a list of objectives, outline your desired timeline and assume nothing will goes as planned, continue to chip away slowly at tasks which will help you complete your goals as you battle distractions and detours. - If you have trouble meeting inner expectations, ask someone to hold you accountable to meeting your timeline. You may find success in asking a friend to hold you accountable, or by setting multiple calendar reminders popping up to guilt you into doing things.

Gretchen Rubin (author of "The Happiness Project") recommends the 1 minute rule. If you can get something down in one minute or less, just do it. In terms of getting shit done and reaching objectives, I fully support that rule! I think Uta would have also....well, I actually don't think she would've cared about any of this.

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