Time Management and Motivation - Dennis Hull

Time Management and Motivation

  • October 10, 2022
Time Management and Motivation - Dennis Hull

Last Wednesday — December 1st, 2021 — I completed 12 auditions and posted about it on LinkedIn. A few readers asked for tips on time management and motivation.

Time Management Tips

This could be a topic all on its own. In fact, given some of what Paul Schmidt’s preliminary voiceover survey results are showing I may tap into my long-time background & expertise in Project & Portfolio Management to help with voice actor time management.

For now, here are 5 simple things I do:

I do not block time for auditions:

When they arrive, I work on them. I tried blocking audition time for a while but found no meaningful pattern as to when I’ll receive an audition. And even if there are slight arrival patterns, there are no patterns as to when they are due. Besides, we should treat auditions as due ASAP anyway.


I do prioritize auditions (and all my tasks):

And this is where some of my Portfolio Management and Agile background inform my voiceover work. I will someday write about how I personally prioritize not only my voice work, but all of my work, and all of my life, really…but for now, just know that I prioritize my auditions and I suggest you do too. From what I see on pay-to-play sites, a lot of folks prioritize according to a project’s due date and/or budget. That’s as good a place to start as any.


I do not edit auditions much:

Most of my auditions are fairly short, as they should be since they are in fact auditions! That being the case, I work hard to get a complete audition in one take. I still do multiple takes, sometimes quite a few, but what I mean is, I do not “splice” together from those multiple takes. I take the best one or two and include them in the audition. Normalization is the only processing I perform, and I only edit down sounds that are significant distractions including mouth clicks, nasal sounds, ancillary noises (maybe I bumped the mic), and SOME breath sounds. I just don’t put in a ton of time editing.


I do continuously review & revise my task list:

My calendar is mostly white, but my task list is green, yellow, and on rare occasions, red. My task list is actually multiple lists converging into one in a technique based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I always know what task I need to do next in each list and overall, but I rarely set due dates on those tasks. The reason hearkens back to not blocking time for auditions. When I receive auditions, or better still, bookings, I’m doing those. Period. Non-negotiable. And I’m not rushing them, or anything else. This inevitably turns me away from my task list and would just have me constantly changing due dates anyway. So, my task list is always up for review and “replanning” based on the reality of auditions and bookings in this business.


I do not beat myself up:

The fact that I refrain from setting tangible due dates on my tasks does not stop me from actually wanting to complete those tasks. I do have in mind when I wish I could finish things…but my wishes do not always come true. And that’s OK. See, because I am comfortable with the way I prioritize and manage my only non-renewable, and most valuable resource — TIME — I don’t ride my own backside when things push.


So, there you are…a few brief time management tips each of which could probably expand into a book chapter. And each of which plays into the next part of this post…

What keeps me motivated?

I know what to do next. I am seldom paralyzed by confusion or ambiguity. And part of my time management builds future state planning, analysis, and learning into my process. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THIS. If you get nothing else from this post, take this. Give yourself permission to think, plan, analyze, and learn. It may not lead to obvious output or results, but the quality of everything you do produce will improve. And you’ll just feel better.


The cliché, simple, quick, pat answer: I like what I do. Let me unpack that though…I like all that I do…every step in the process (well, nearly every step) and I think that’s the key.


I’m an actor. I like to act. I want to act. So even though I do prioritize auditions, and I definitely DO NOT submit or even work on every audition that comes my way, I work on and record most of them. I don’t much care how many submitted before me or even what the job is paying, I still break down the script, make choices, record, and listen back…and probably 70% of the time, I submit. My commercial demo is a good representation of many of my submissions. I am motivated because I like the process of my work and not just the result. This also keeps me from getting terribly discouraged. I mean, of course I do suffer setbacks just like everyone else, but being behind the mic tends to reinvigorate me because I love the work, whether it books & pays or not.


And frankly, I think that’s an advantage. Not just in voiceover, or acting, but in ANY work that anyone does. If you like the process of what you do, you’ll be motivated. If you only like the result…well, your motivation, and really, your joy is limited only to the frequency and size of those outcomes, most of which are ultimately beyond your control.


In voice acting, the audition is within your control, but the ultimate result is not. Do not tie your motivation and joy to results like bookings and dollars that are inherently in the hands of other people…people you likely don’t know and can’t influence beyond that audition submission.


I was motivated and able to complete 12 auditions in one day because:

  • I have solid prioritization and time management techniques
  • The process of acting is fun for me, not just the result
  • My motivation and joy are bound to things I can control

And my goal, my definition of success, is to have a dozen auditions EVERY day.

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