Building a business is a learning experience and in my short time as a filmmaker, I have learned a lot of lessons and made a lot of mistakes. The goal of this website is to help you avoid some of the mistakes I have made along the way by giving you a behind-the-scenes look into some of our productions.

Workflow Efficiency // 7 Tips to Help You Accomplish More in Less Time

678

11937042_10153038481576146_7973549935654545721_o (2)One of the biggest challenges I have come across as a freelancer / now business owner is time. I always feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I need / want to. I am sure that I am not alone with this. In my quest to work more efficiently and accomplish more in a day, I have found a few tips that I want to share to help you structure your day and maximize your productivity in the hours that you do work and in turn, decrease stress and accomplish more.

When you control your schedule, it is very easy to loose sight of what is important. From working in circles to dealing with prioritization, it is easy to get lost in the to-do list. I find myself struggling with this frequently and have started to implement a few fail safes to ensure I stay on task and focused. What I want to do with this post is talk about a few things I have started to do as well as why it is important to DESIGN YOUR LIFE and have a plan. The seven tips are:

1. Plan out your day in advance. Create a framework for your week.

2. Keep records of how your time is spent.

3. Bundle tasks.

4. Prioritize & delegate.

5. Stop deflecting.

6. Define your hours.

7. Recharge the battery.

Now sit back with a cup of coffee and/or beer and let’s do this! :)

1. Plan out your day in advance. Create a framework for your week.

Planning out your day in advance is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your productivity. For me, I create a high level monthly to do breakdown and then at least a day prior, break out my hours with a to-do list. For me, this acts more as a framework for the day. There is some flexibility in the schedule. I use it as a way to hold myself accountable and am also able to allot an accurate amount of time to each task that otherwise could take more time than it should.

For me, part of the power of breaking down schedules is the reduction of stress from feeling overwhelmed. Winning small battles is the best starting place. When trying to find a way to remove the stress of not having enough time in your work day, you need to first breakdown all the re-occurring activities that happen on a daily basis…. emails, website maintenance and creative, phone calls, etc. Now before I break down what my day looks like, I want to first talk about strategies and hot ticket items such as email management.

Find your sweet spot

Once you have broken these tasks down, determine what time of day is your most productive time. For me, my mornings are when I have the most motivation to take on the day – it is when I am the most motivated and inspired. Take on the biggest tasks during this key point in your day. For me, I do the biggest tasks at the top of the day when I am most motivated. Not only does this start me off on a good foot but sets the tone for the day. Now, with all your re-occurring tasks, slate those in as regularly scheduled items at a time outside of your most productive hours.

Email Management

For me, one task that takes up the most out of any in a week is emails. This is a constant struggle and especially difficult with the impact social media has played on this. People expect immediate responses and if you don’t get back to people right away, they think you aren’t committed to a project. Now let me preface this, not everyone is like this BUT I do have some clients that expect that we are available 24/7. For these clients, it is critical that you set a boundaries. With these clients, I have started to implement Tim Ferris’ approach of only answering emails twice a day. I have chose to answer emails at 11am and 4pm as suggested. By not answering until 11am, I am able to get a jump start on my day and get the ‘big fish’ out of the way. These 11am emails are then usually seen right when people get back from lunch. The 4pm emails are great as I’ve been able to put in a solid afternoon of work with little distractions. By responding at 4pm, you are still getting to items before the end of day and usually these emails aren’t addressed until the next morning.

Now if you don’t want to go to this extreme, I would at least try turning off the pesky push notifications paired with the two minute rule. When I had push notifications turned on, I would always find myself putting any task on hold to answer these emails. This was super distracting and could sometimes change the tone of the day if a bad email happen to come in. Now when it comes to the actually answering these emails, If you are able to answer an email in two minutes, go ahead and answers these when I you see them because by the time to take the time to re-read later, you will end up losing more time than if you would have answered the first time you saw the email.

Breaking it down

When looking at how to schedule your day, the key things to think of is starting off and finishing great. Don’t think you can ease in or ease out of a day. Create purpose to your day and focus on setting goals. Avoid interruptions as much as possible and try having a time for calls and meetings scheduled into your day. Lastly and most importantly, make sure to schedule time for yourself.

2. Keep records of how your time is spent.

Being able to look back to see what you have accomplished is important to be able to refine your efficiency and it is also important to see where you are making and loosing money. By keeping accurate records, you can look back to see where your pain points are and work to refine your processes. We have spent a lot of time refining our processes to ensure we have a system that works for us. Although it does take quite a bit of time to develop a strong system that tracks everything, it is the lifeline of your business.

project management

For me, I use Asana to track projects and schedule out tasks for each day, calendars to schedule out approximate times for each task and then Harvest to track the time I spend working on projects. What is great about this combination is that I am able to assign tasks through Asana, track the time and associate it to a given task and project and then plug that information into my Quickbooks account for billing purposes. It allows us to look back on projects to see where the time and money was spent. A total win-win for long-term planning.

3. Bundle tasks.

I find it extremely helpful to bundle like tasks. I find that each time I switch tasks, I need to reset my brain. My bundling like tasks I am able to spend less time resetting for the given task. Within Asana, you are able to use tags to group tasks. I use this as a way to see what tasks can be bundled and then schedule projects accordingly.

4. Prioritize & delegate.

Being able to define priorities is critical when breaking down schedules. Determine which projects are priorities and then figure out how you are able to delegate tasks that do not require your touch to get completed. Building teams is critical to ensure long term success and to ensure the growth of your business. It helps to offload tasks that other people can do quicker and better than you. This includes such things as accounting and taxes.

5. Stop deflecting.

I have found myself at times thinking with a short term calendar mindset. The short term mindset is when you mentally check out from situations and inevitably disconnect from the work that you should be doing. For example, maybe it is Monday and you don’t want the weekend to end or it’s Friday and you are ready for the weekend so you choose to not work as hard. These are precious hours that get lost. For freelancers, these days can happen more regularly as you are responsible for your own hours and are usually only accountable to yourself. If you want to take the day off, the only person you have to confront is yourself.

There are times when I have found myself procrastinating and pushing aspects of the to-do list to the next day – choosing rather to work on things less important. Than, when the next day rolls around, I then postpone again. This is a vicious cycle that can get out of hand quickly.

To work more efficiently, focus on staying true to the schedule you have laid out for yourself. There will be times when you will need to move your schedule around but be honest with yourself and don’t make a habit out of moving calendar items to the next day.

11021264_10152622873651146_8363336359768482928_n

6. Define your hours.

It can be challenging sometimes to set boundaries for yourself. When the only thing between you and work is yourself, it is sometimes hard to turn your brain off and stick to specific hours of work. I have found myself working extended hours and not being able to completely let go because of feeling guilty for not working. Defining hours sets boundaries for yourself as well as your client.

7. Recharge the battery.

The last and most important thing to ensure your productivity is to give yourself time to recharge. I have found days blending together when I work long hours and not only am I less creative, I get less done. It seems counter-intuitive but the more hours you work, the less GOOD work you get done. When I started to take time for myself, I found myself accomplishing much more and was able to create work I was proud of.

Final Takeaway

DESIGNING YOUR LIFE is something that will take time and work and the process will be different for everyone. The process is one that will change and evolve over time but will be rewarding when you are able to find a system that works for you. It will allow you to work ON YOUR BUSINESS not IN YOUR BUSINESS which is one of the hardest things to balance sometimes. Don’t think of everything as one huge change – simply try to implement small changes to refine your workflow processes. It will be worth it… and your clients will thank you.

Questions?

Do you have a way of approaching your day in a most creative and productive way? Please share as I am always up for trying something new!

DOWNLOAD

TIMELAPSE CHECKLIST

TO DOWNLOAD