I am a procrastinator. This is one of the biggest reasons my career has had lulls in it. I also get really down on myself (probably from the procrastination) and that also leads to times when things that I should have done didn’t get accomplished. When comedians ask me what they should do to get the things that they want out of comedy, I say to stay on task.
Staying on task is essential if you want to become successful in anything, not just comedy. In my opinion it is more important than who you know or how funny you are. It doesn’t matter if you know a booker that can get you three months of work if you keep forgetting to get him your head shots and bio so he can set the shows up. You can be funny as hell, but if you are holding off on doing the little things than you will get looked over for the guy that could do those things needed to be successful.
Task accomplishment is the thing that separates greats from the could have beens. You think athletes just walk on the field and do what they do because of just natural talent? They are there because they were willing to do the little things. Working out, learning the game, practice. Those are the things that will make you that much better than your competition. In the comedy world that means getting more opportunities.
Some people have terrible memories, or just a bunch of stuff that they need to do and no way to accomplish any of it. That is where a checklist is valuable. I lean on checklist heavily. I think that is how I was able to graduate college. I put all the things I needed to do in a checklist and went from most to least important. If you have a bad memory or just need to organize your task I highly encourage you to give this a try. Most smartphones have a built in task manager, or you can find plenty in app stores or online. I like task managers because what it does is organize the things that I need to do and I can also assign which things are really important and what things I can wait on. Do I need to contact someone about a pending show date? That is something I just do right away. Should I check out a website on how to record better audio of my sets? I can wait on that for a little bit.
A checklist is great and all, but doesn’t do jack if you are like me and tend to wander throughout your free time. It took me a solid year to get a website done because I was procrastinating most of the time and when I actually sat down to give it a try, I would end up reading comic book character origin stories and the like. I have a tough time just staying on task that now I have a set of rules that I follow when I am trying to get something done.
One of the first things I do when I am trying to get stuff done (like write a blog) is I get rid of all the distractions. I turn off the TV and I close the web browser. That way I don’t start looking up silly crap or watching Teen Titans and never getting anything done. I also make sure that I am doing these things when I am alone. If my kid is over and I need to get something done, then it is not getting done. So the thing that I try to do instead is wait until she is gone and then I can get the thing done. I have had people tell me to set time aside for task, but that has never worked for me because I never really know what is going on from day to day. I just make sure that during the times when I am not doing another pressing matter that I knock out a couple of things on my checklist.
You might also be like me in that you have way to much crap going on and you don’t know what is the most important. When I am not on stage I am writing this blog, or writing short stories, or writing scripts and sketches, or editing a video, or filming a video, or taking pictures, or editing pictures, or trying to learn how to do all of those things better. That means a lot of times I will end up not knowing what to do and just not do anything. I have tried many different things to try and get this in order, but the thing is my mood changes. Sometimes I get depressed about my comedy career and so I start doing more writing to try and keep my mind off of it. I may look at my blog and think that it is terrible and so I go online to look for ways to make my videos better. I am always tied up in something and sometimes I just get lost. The thing that I have tried that has helped a little is just trying to do a little bit of something each day. I try to get in some learning about something and then I try to apply it. For example, I want to make better flyers. I watch something on lynda.com and then make sure I try it before I forget it. Now, I feel as though I have accomplished something, and I may have gotten a flyer or something done.
The one thing I think you should try to avoid however is getting down on yourself. I don’t know how much time I have wasted getting down on myself because I was lost or because I procrastinated too long and now an opportunity has passed me by. I try to keep myself involved in the things I am interested in so I can get around to getting stuff done sooner. I like producing video. I try to help people in the area film their ideas and what that does is it lets me learn things that I can use on my own projects. I try to go to open mics because that gets my comedy juices flowing. I get ideas and I don’t feel rusty when I have a paid show and I haven’t really gotten on stage in a couple of days. I write this blog so I can keep my head into writing and that will usually get me warmed up to write a couple of pages of story or get a sketch idea on paper. The most important thing is to not get discouraged. Keep focused and work your way through the things you need to do to be successful in anything that you want to do.