We tend to be pretty myopic when it comes to our lives. We congratulate ourselves on the productive days and kick ourselves for the wasted ones. Sometimes we look back at the end of each week to average it out, but usually by the end of the month we can’t as precisely pin-point what we were doing at the beginning.
Sure, some people are type A workaholics who churn out creative work as if running a solo sweatshop, but most of us are a little more weak-willed than that. I constantly struggle with priorities, time management, and wading through the thick fog of ADD that clouds my brain.
But despite all the time we waste, when we zoom out, we usually find that we’ve actually accomplished a lot. So to remind myself, and maybe relate to others who struggle similarly, I revisited my memories and Google Calendar, and tallied some of my productivity highs and lows. I took some liberties with the more abstract approximations. Also, I just like numbers and categorization.
I spent 440+ hours in improv classes, workshops or practices. I did a lot of improv this year. Maybe I should have prefaced this with the fact that improv is the only thing in my life that I’ve ever been able to prioritize well. I never skip classes or practices out of disinterest or laziness, and I’ve exhibited none of my usual self-sabotage when faced with the pressure to succeed. Maybe because it’s the thing I love the most, but also probably because it’s the rare activity where all you have to do to participate is show up.
I refreshed social media sites and apps a countless number of times a day. Being connected and engaged online is a great thing. Making a habit of it to the point that I feel like I’m missing vital information when I don’t keep up with my feeds is a terrible thing.
I performed in over 122 improv shows. This year, I was lucky enough to be a part of teams that were invited to perform fairly frequently. I tried my best to make it to every show I could, which resulted in lots of subway waiting and leaving friends’ birthdays after just half an hour, only to return three hours later.
In August, I watched three seasons, totaling 25+ hours of “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” This is what I did when I should have been working.
I acted in 10 filmed shoots, of varying size and purpose. It’s not that many, but it’s nine more than the previous year, when I had never seen a call sheet before. Parts ranged from being a corporate shill for Clearasil to getting stabbed in the face with a machete for Feartown to speed-dating for MTV Other. Half of these, I auditioned for. The other half were from nice UCB people who very nicely asked me to be in their projects.
I wrote 12 new sketches. That’s pathetic. Almost all of these were for sketch classes, because I’m bad at motivating myself without concrete deadlines and a sense of obligation to others. Four of them I drafted in one week for a wonderful show being SPANKed in January because I am much better at motivating myself with deadlines and obligations.
I coached improv 30 times. I really like coaching and pushed myself to do it more in the later half of the year. I like helping people get better at this weird craft. I think it’s a good fit for the way I think about improv, and is also making me a better and more compassionate improviser.
I woefully under-prepared for three classes: an acting class, an audition class, and a characters class. Usually it came down to not memorizing or rehearsing. I skipped the last two of my eight week acting class because I was so bored and didn’t want to memorize two monologues. See: def. self-sabotage (verb); reasons why I like improv classes.
I read 16 books. 11 literary novels, and 5 nonfiction. I also started about five that I just couldn’t finish. I watched 21 movies in theaters. Three in one day, and five in December. I probably read 100+ articles on feminism, race, and privilege. As all liberal arts grads do.
I flew three times to visit friends and family. I visited aging family in Montreal, high school friends in Austin, and every single person I know that has moved to the Bay Area (everyone- everyone I know has moved there).
I downloaded and deleted the iPhone game “Dots” 7+ times. I have spent an absurd amount of hours beating my own high scores in this redundantly sleek game to avoid things like: learning lines, packing for trips, addressing my responsibilities.
I moved apartments twice. This was very time and energy-consuming, but worth it given the improvements to my quality of life. However, it’s been two months and I still haven’t unpacked completely. I spend approx 6+ hours a week fretting about unpacking and distracting myself with other tasks to avoid it.
I also spent a lot of time drinking and catching up with friends, and being in a great relationship. I can’t really quantify these, but I wouldn’t trade them in for any more measurable unit of productivity (pages written, shows performed etc).
So there you go. That’s a snapshot of my year in both time wasted and time well spent.