How To Adult as a Stagehand

The work-life balance is a cliche. You CAN and SHOULD do both without losing your mind. This post is about what does and does not survive a heavy production schedule. I’ve also thrown some tips in here for how you can keep moving forward even though you may be beat from the last 70 hours you put in this week.

Both Morgan and I work in production. We rent a 2 bedroom place just outside Washington, DC. We have 2 cats and a hermit crab. There are times when we’re passing in the night and sometimes those nights turn into days and weeks.

Here’s how we start prioritizing our work and life responsibilities.

  1. PETS – The cats and hermit crab WILL and DO survive 3-5 days without our presence and attention. Everyone’s pet situation is different. If you haven’t figured out the patterns of your pet as far as food/water in=waste out, figure it out.
  2. DISHES – The dishes won’t decompose in your absence. That being said, dirty dishes do attract unwanted visitors so if you’re waking up at 6pm after an overnighter scheduled for an 8pm call, make sure you have a dishwashing appliance or spend 10 minutes swooping through the kitchen.  We’re animals too so we need to be aware of the food/water in situation. Since we’re a little finicky about eating on a dirty plate, it behooves us to spend a couple of minutes cleaning up after ourselves.
  3. BILLS/CHECKS –  Yup. Those keep coming. Make sure  you’re checking the mail. Your check from work done 2 months ago might have come in but your freaking $300 speeding ticket may also have come in. Guess which one has a due date? I check the mail every time I walk past the mailbox and then (in order to avoid decision fatigue) I spend 30 seconds sorting out the junk (goes to recycling pile) from the urgent. We’re two people so I have 3 piles going. Morgan’s, mine, and junk. (Expert Tip: color code your gigs in your phone’s calendar. Purple for me are gigs that are on the schedule and have not been paid. When a check comes in, I go back, match it up with the gig and re-color it green. Green is good.)
  4.  GOALS – Don’t forget about the WHY you’re pushing boxes or leading crews backstage. There are 168 hours in the week and after a year – looking back – you’re going to want to say that you’ve moved forward. Carve out some time – even if it’s 10 minutes – work on your side hustle or your game plan to stop pushing boxes. Morgan and I go camping whenever feasible; do date nights when we’re both in the same town; or even just take a quick drive out to the woods. Forest bathing is big with me and helps me recenter.

We have other thoughts on cooking and trash/recycling that we could chat about but I’ve exhausted my time allowance. Let me know where you’re having difficulties adjusting to a gig life and/or where you having successes.


Jer and Morgan, Brophy Productions

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