- File management
- Time blocking
- Cleaning up your email inbox
- Organizing and prioritizing notifications
- Selecting apps to help you with task and time management
- Filtering email messages and paperwork
Skill Level Appropriate for all
- [Instructor] With all of the advances in technology and the infinite number of ways that we can communicate today, it is a miracle that anything ever gets done, ever. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, news sites, YouTube, text messages, and especially hours a day of getting sucked into your email inbox, it can seem impossible to get any creative work done at all. In my opinion, the key to maintaining consistent levels of productivity and focus, is working in what are called time blocks. I've written several lengthy blog posts about the concept of time blocking and I even teach it at a much deeper level in my Optimize Yourself program.
But the basic idea behind time blocking is that you set aside a specific period of time and during that specific block you only do one creative task. A common amount of time would be 25 minutes on, and then you take a five or ten minute break. So here are the basic steps to set up your very first time block. What you want to do, and you can see that right now I'm inside my Calendar app, you want to pick the time that you want to block off and the duration, and then you want to mark it, you want to be very intentional about the fact that you're going to be using this time for one creative task, so then it becomes real.
This is one of those psychological tricks that's the difference between being productive, rather than saying yeah, I'm going to do this, eventually. This is going to make sure you have a set specific time to get that task done. So you can see right now I'm in an empty calendar, and I have my one basic calendar set up. What I like to do is actually create a separate calendar just to track my work time blocks. So what I'm going to do is actually go up to file, new calendar, and this is going to be different if you have a different calendar app, I'm just going to demo it with the basic Mac calendar app, and I'm actually going to call this Zack, and we can call this time blocks, you can call it whatever you like, but let's just call this time blocks for now.
So let's say that I have a meeting here, and I have a phone call here, when I see on my calendar, anything that's blue, that tells me I need to either be somewhere or I need to be present for somebody else, that is time that I'm expected to be with someone and I have to be there. Your time blocks should be treated the same way, except you need to be present there for yourself, so that's why I like to separate those, so you can toggle each of them on and off, because they're different mindsets.
So what I'm going to do is, I'm going to create a couple of time blocks and I'm actually going to drill down into the specific day, so we can see just one day. So let's say that I want to spend an hour time block watching dailies, so I'm going to put this into my calendar and I'm going to say, watching dailies. Now let's say, I want to spend 30 minutes doing notes, and I want to spend another 30 minutes doing an export. So I'm thinking it's going to take me about an hour to watch these new dailies, it's going to take me about 30 minutes to do the notes, so let me just put in another time block, say do notes, and I'm just going to make this half an hour.
And I'm going to do another one that says export notes. So rather than thinking to myself, yay I'm going to get to this stuff today, I know that it's on my calendar, and more importantly, if I set it properly, I can actually send myself a reminder, so if I just open this up and go to the time, I can say I want an alert sent 15 minutes before. This is one of those notifications you actually want to receive because it's going to keep you more productive. So I say, 15 minutes before, I hit apply, and now I know that when I'm in this meeting I'm going to get a notification so when I'm done with the meeting, I look at my phone or I look at my computer, and it's like, oh that's right, I'm supposed to be watching dailies right now.
One thing that I want to make sure that you're aware of when you're doing time blocks, the last thing you want to do is set up time blocks back to back to back to back, all day long, that's actually going to diminish your productivity, the whole idea is to stay focused for a specific period of time on one task, but then take breaks. So you want to create what are called margins in your day. Creating margins is the difference between being completely exhausted at 10 pm at night, or feeling like you actually have some mental capacity and you're building your mental stamina.
So, a lot of times, what I will do, is I will create little blocks in here of 10 to 15 minutes to remind me that I need to take breaks. One other important part of doing time blocks is making sure that you are eliminating all of the distractions that are going to keep you away from whatever creative task you're doing, and the next step is actually tracking the time or tracking the task that you're doing during that time block, so in later lessons we'll dig into time blocking a bit deeper, and I'm going to show you how you can prioritize and organize your notifications, in case going into 100% airplane mode isn't going to be an option for you, and I'm also going to show you some cool apps and programs to help you build better time blocks and stick to them.