Being a full-time employee or student and a dancer is not easy. It can involve long nights, early mornings, and occasionally a missed dance class or forgotten school work.
That being said, dancing is one of the best hobbies or extracurriculars you can pick up and can make you a better employee and student. Balancing your dance life with your work or school life doesn’t have to be hard, though. Let’s go through a few great tips that might make it easier!
Why Fitting Dance into Your Schedule is Worth It
People who dance are always happy people!
Kidding, but there is some truth to that! Dance is one of the best hobbies or physical activities to partake in because it can benefit your brain and body in so many different ways.
The right side of your brain comes online when you dance! Meaning, dance is a form of creative expression. Hobbies that involve creativity can help to grow new brain cells and neural connections and increase overall brain health. Also, engaging with your creative side will help you to be more artistic with your academic projects and homework assignments. This is why the arts are so important!
Dancing is also movement and physical exertion. The benefits of physical activity can not be stated enough, from the feel-good production of endorphins and the increase of cardiovascular health, to the strength and stability you get to build in your own body. The benefits of physical activity also transfer to being able to sit still in class or an office easier and being able to focus for longer periods of time.
Many people get their physical activity from working out or from playing sports, but dancers get to express themselves creatively and be physically active at the same time. Need we say more?
Full Disclaimer: most of our tips are for student dancers who are still in school since that’s when dance life and schedules tend to be the busiest. If you are only working, or you are working and trying to balance school, take the advice that applies to you, and leave behind what doesn’t.
How to Balance Different Kinds of Schedules
Get a calendar and put it in a highly visible place. Pick one color for school or work, and another color for dance classes. Put in important dates as early as you have them so you can see a bigger picture of when your busier days or weeks will be, and plan ahead. Knowing your schedules ahead of time gives you ample room to prepare and to communicate your needs or possible issues with your dance teachers, sports coaches, and superiors at work. This way you can alleviate academic stress and better balance school work with your dance life.
Communicate early. The earlier you admit there’s a problem or a concern, the earlier you can prepare for it and find a solution if need be. Doing this also gives your school teachers or boss(es) time to plan ahead and to help be a part of the solution as well. If you need to go out of town for dance, telling your teacher the day before won’t go over as well as telling them a week or even a month in advance. And, make sure you understand the context of your commitments! Studying for a quiz will most likely take up less time than studying for a midterm or a big test.
School Tip: Lean on your dance community! Dealing with finals week and a big show like the Nutcracker at the same time? Are you dancing with students or friends that are older than you? If so, you can ask them for their tips on how they balance school and dance.
Work Tip: Create routines that you can stick to. Committing to one or two classes a week creates a habit both for you and those in your life making it easier to follow in the future. Do you have a particular day of the week that’s chock full of meetings? Maybe that’s not the best day to plan for a dance class because your availability can fluctuate, and you simply don’t have enough time in your day. If there’s a day of the week that you end work at the same time consistently, then maybe that’s the perfect day to go dance all the stress and tension away.
How to Task Switch Like a Pro
Our brains have to use a certain amount of energy to switch between tasks, which can sometimes slow us down when all we want is to be fully present in dance class! Just being aware of this can help you make small changes in your schedule that can lead to greater success in each task in the long run.
Believe it or not, studies show that 15-20 minutes of concentrated activity on one task has far greater gains than an hour of multitasking. So, that tilt you’re trying to improve? Just 15 minutes of focused exercise each day will get you to your goal faster than trying to do too much at once.
Use your time in between tasks to your advantage. Even though it may feel like it adds to your schedule, making sure you are arriving at the studio or setting up your online dance class with ample time to warm up can be an amazing and efficient way to get in the zone. Sometimes, the biggest issue with a busy schedule isn’t the chunks of time themselves, but the fact that we might move on to a new activity, but our brain is still processing or worrying about the last one.
Warming up can be a ritual, a way for you to get into your body and release any stressors from work or school. You can take this time to visualize your goals for your dance class. Studies show that visualization increases success in most activities when done right before. So, you can use this before big presentations or tests at work and school as well. Taking time to prepare will go a long way in making you feel confident, at ease, and not stretched thin.
You can’t always leave school, your job, or your dance class, but make use of your breaks and ask for them when they’re needed. Even 5 minutes in the bathroom can be a great way to refresh and remind yourself that you have all the time you need if you can be present and patient with yourself!
Tip: Try pairing a meditation mantra or visualization with your favorite stretch, and try to do it before every dance class for one week. See if it leaves you feeling more focused and on the ball!
Treat All Commitments With The Same Level of Respect
It might feel impossible to give your best to both dance and school (or work!), but the truth is, the harder you work in the studio, the harder you’ll be able to work in science class, too. The skills you learn in dance classes transfer to the rest of your life. If you’re persevering in a Lacey Schwimmer ballroom class, your brain will learn the benefits of not giving up and will use those new neural connections in other areas of your life, too.
That being said, when it comes down to it, work and academics will tend to be of bigger importance than dance class (Unless of course, your job is to dance! Go you!)
Balancing a busy schedule is a great lesson in time management, prioritization, and knowing when to take a break! You only have 24 hours in a day, so you have to prioritize your time wisely and discover what matters to you. If you can and you decide to schedule a lighter dance load for the weeks that you have more on your plate, there’s no need to feel bad! Balance is important.
Tip: Taking a break can be a beneficial way to make the most out of your busiest days. By giving your brain and body some down time to rest, you can come back to school and the dance studio with even more energy than if you were to try to push through without stopping.