It’s important to realize that, at some point, the life of the creative becomes an endurance race.
Wake at the same hour every day, tackle your top three priorities, answer a few emails, go to bed, rinse, repeat. Personal recreation becomes a luxury.
How much of that can you handle before it breaks your creative spirit? How much can you endure before you collapse onto the couch and cry “uncle?”
It may seem bleak, but this is what it looks like to make a living from your passion. You shift from someone who creates as the spirit moves, to someone who creates on demand, lest you miss a deadline, disappoint a client, or drop the ball on a big contract.
I admit, no part of this is inspiring. But I bring it up for a reason.
Firstly, we need to have filters in place for the opportunities that come our way. The vultures will come out of the woodwork the very moment you’re starting to find your daily stride, and “a few quick emails” can easily balloon into an unsustainable workload if you say “yes” one too many times.
You don’t need a complex system to filter opportunities. What you need is a raw, instinctual gut response. Because opportunities will seem endless, and frankly most are not worth your time.
Secondly, we need to listen to our bodies. Yes, we may fancy ourselves superheroes, but everyone has their limit, and anyone who’s gone through burnout is sure to reach that threshold sooner than desired.
You need a break. A getaway. An annual two-week vacation is nice. But it’s probably not going to be enough. You need to look at getting away every three to six months. Maybe it isn’t for two weeks, but as the day-in day-out demands of a creative begin to wear on you, you’ll find it necessary to unplug and allow for recovery.
You can’t let your clients and collaborators ride you like a donkey, because they will keep dangling that carrot in front of you, even as the reality dawns on you that your personal value far exceeds any reward they might offer you. You need to set boundaries in place, put your out of office notice alerts on, and recover away from screens and tech and unending smartphone notifications.
We all grow weary at times, and that’s okay. It’s what it means to be human. Give yourself the gift of disconnecting every now and then.
With that, here’s what I’ve got for you this week:
David Andrew Wiebe
I publish daily to inspire creatives and creators just like you.
Here are the posts that went live this week:
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At Music Entrepreneur HQ, I give modern music makers the tools and mental models they need to create the life they love through music, something I’ve been up to since 2009.
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I publish at least once per week on the topic of self-discovery.
Here’s what I shared on News Break this week:
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If you’re looking to increase your productivity, you should try batch processing.
It can help you focus on similar tasks for longer without the need to constantly switch tasks and lose productivity.
But in my experience, batch processing can be a little shortsighted if you aren’t doing things the right way. It can even leave you scrambling at the last minute if you aren’t looking ahead.
Here’s how to use Weekflow to improve your batch processing.
What is Batch Processing?
Batch processing is where you group similar tasks together to reduce the productivity loss resulting from task switching.
Let’s say your week looks a little like mine. Most of your time is spent on writing, but aside from that, you also format and schedule posts in WordPress, record podcast content, schedule social media posts, syndicate and distribute content, edit images and videos, and so on.
So, as much as possible, you’d try to group similar tasks on the same day. This is a crude example, but since I do a lot of writing, I’d probably want to batch my writing on Monday through Wednesday. I could make Thursday social media day. And I could make Friday multimedia day (graphics, audio, and video). Finally, I would work on my all my newsletters on Saturday (which is what I already do).
But why would you do things this way?
Jory MacKay, editor of the RescueTime blog found that context switching can affect your overall productivity by 20 to 80%, depending on how many tasks you’re switching between. The more context switching you’re doing, the less productive you are!
If you’ve ever wondered whether there’s a trick to getting more done in your day, it’s this – batch processing.
What is Weekflow?
It’s a concept I came up with a while back (no relation to the app of the same name).
I like batch processing a lot. The main issue I often ran into was accounting for days where task switching was inevitable unless I planned for it far in advance.
Blog posts would sometimes need to be written and scheduled the same day. Which meant I would need to spend time inside Microsoft Word writing the piece, in Photoshop designing a header graphic, and in WordPress formatting and scheduling the post.
I’m used to having to do things that way, but it sort of defeats the purpose of batch processing, because you find yourself having to task switch regardless.
Basically, it’s not enough to think in terms of tasks. You must match up your tasks with your schedule and deadlines to be effective.
That’s why I came up with Weekflow. It’s the process of thinking about what needs to be done by when, and ensuring minimal task switching while engaging in batch processing.
Getting Started with Weekflow – Task & Deadline Breakdown
First, we need to think about the tasks we’re engaged in as well as their respective deadlines.
I’m going to use myself as an example here. Here’s what’s usually on my calendar each week:
- I publish a new blog post daily on DavidAndrewWiebe.com and syndicate it to Medium.
- I record a new podcast episode every week and publish on Thursday. I usually send out an email letting my audience know about the new episode as well.
- I publish at least one new post per week on News Break (usually on Friday).
- I write and schedule three to four posts per week for Music Industry How To.
- I publish an installment of Creative Entrepreneur for The Indie YYC on Fridays.
- I send out newsletters on Saturday.
- I schedule a week’s worth of tweets, usually on a Sunday or Monday.
So, altogether, that looks something like this:
Although I’ve left out other client work and product development, this isn’t always a constant, so I didn’t include it.
Now, it’s time to break everything down into its components.
Blog posts always have the following in common:
- Ideation (all my ideas are stored in my LifeSheet)
- Header graphic
- Additional images
- Formatting (headers, bullets, links, bold and italicized text, click to tweets, etc.)
- Social media posts
- Distribution and syndication
Regardless of whether I’m publishing on one of my own blogs, Medium, News Break, Music Industry How To, or otherwise, publishing usually involves all or most of the above.
Recording a podcast has a lot in common with blog posts, except that there are a few additional steps. They are as follows:
- Audio editing
- Upload audio to Amazon S3
- Header graphic
- Additional images
- Social media posts
With the Creative Entrepreneur series, I’m basically repurposing podcast content, so the process is a little different than just recording another podcast or making a video. Here’s what’s involved:
- Create podcast clip in Repurpose
- Edit video in iMovie
- Process audio through Auphonic
- Write intro text
- Schedule video for publishing in Creator Studio (Facebook and Instagram)
My weekly digests get repurposed as weekly newsletters (though I do some minor editing). Here’s what’s involved.
- Copy and paste content into Mailchimp
- Edit (based on audience)
- Rinse and repeat
Social Media Posts
Although I’m experimenting with a variety of social networks, my focus this year is Twitter. So, here’s what I need to do to ensure I’m on top of it:
- Make a list of tweets to model
- Rewrite tweets and put them into my own voice
- Schedule tweets
Batch Processing + Weekflow = Effectiveness
Looking at the above, you may feel as I do, that trying to avoid task switching would be a near impossibility.
So, is batch processing even worth the effort? What benefits am I tapping into if I can’t possibly get away from task switching?
Now you’re starting to see the essence of why Weekflow is necessary.
It’s not enough to batch, or even to make the commitment to batch. You must think about how you can effectively set yourself up, each day, for the next. That’s Weekflow.
So, it’s not just a matter of saying I will write on Monday through Wednesday. Each day is about teeing yourself up for the next. It’s about looking ahead and being sure you’re not scrambling on Tuesday because you didn’t spend enough time preparing for it on Monday.
If you do this well, your batching efforts will begin to pay off in droves.
Okay, so now you understand how to get started with Weekflow, as well as why it’s necessary.
Now we need to talk about how you can optimize your schedule with Weekflow.
This process isn’t difficult. But it can take some time.
For me, it typically begins on Sunday with my #StrategySunday planning sessions.
By the way, if you don’t have a weekly planning session, good luck trying to optimize your Weekflow. It’s just not going to happen.
But let’s say, for instance, that I wanted to batch my header graphics for the week. Monday would be a relatively good time to do this, as I typically try to ease into my week on Monday and start to wind down on Friday.
During my #StrategySunday session, I would have thought about the content I want to publish throughout the week. It’s entirely possible I’ve brainstormed titles already.
I would take a moment to review these titles and spend some time revising. After all, titles are kind of everything when it comes to getting clicks.
After committing to a set of titles, I would go into Photoshop and make all my header graphics for the week. I would do the same for all my other publishing efforts, identifying in advance what graphics I need to edit and ready for my posts.
It sounds easy, but I’m also publishing on Monday. So, I would have had to thought of that in advance too.
But now you see the problem.
Altogether, it may seem daunting, but Weekflow is simply a process of gradual improvement – Kaizen.
You can only act on the information available. And if you haven’t been batch processing or optimizing your Weekflow yet, then you have no experience to derive from. You need to gain some experience, and when you find something to that doesn’t work, return to the drawing board.
Your Weekflow may never be perfect, and that’s okay. Keep thinking strategically and you will get better at it.
It’s not enough to identify the enemy of productivity, which in this case is task switching. You must also come up with an elegant solution.
Batch processing isn’t the solution. It’s just the starting point.
You must execute and know what it feels like. Then you must commit to the process.
Then comes optimization, which in my view, requires Weekflow. I don’t know how else you’re going to make the most of batch processing.
You must have a clear view of what’s coming and be able to tee yourself up, each day, for the next thing, and then the next.
Did you find this helpful? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
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No, you’re not seeing things. Today is NOT #StrategySunday.
But I had several questions regarding #StrategySunday I wanted to dedicate some space to.
And instead of answering them one at a time, I thought I would address them all at once.
So, if you’ve ever had questions regarding #StrategySunday, enjoy this Q&A!
How do You Record Your Minutes?
Before leaving Calgary in October 2019, I made a few purchases to assist my journey as a digital nomad.
In addition to a new laptop, I also bought an iPad Pro, an Antbox iPad case, and an Apple Pencil (affiliate links).
A friend showed me his iPad and Apple Pencil at a conference in summer 2019, and that was enough to convince me that I needed my own.
The Apple Pencil got me back into the simple joys of drawing again, and that served as my late-night hobby for a while.
But I mainly bought the iPad and Apple Pencil for two reasons – to take notes, and to read Kindle books. And that is primarily how I’ve used these tools since arriving in Abbotsford.
I have done a lot of journaling inside my iPad, to where my Notes app suffers slowdown from too many files(!).
Anyway, this is still where I log my minutes. And when I’m ready to transfer them over to a blog post, I simply review what I’ve written in my notes, and type them up inside a Word doc on my laptop.
I figured you’d want to see what my notes look like, which is why I’ve included a picture. Enjoy.
(By the way, I tend to be platform agnostic and am not an Apple fanboy.)
How do You Speculate on Possibilities?
Within my #StrategySunday posts, you may have noticed the mention of “speculating on possibilities.”
I’ve shared a little bit about how this works in an earlier post on using a journal to boost your creativity.
Sounds innocuous enough, I’m sure. But I have personally had more success with speculating on possibilities than trying to come up with answers and strategies for everything.
There’s more freedom in speculating on possibilities than there is in forcing yourself to come up with instant solutions.
Consider the difference between these two prompts:
- Draw an apple, and draw it exactly as shown in my own drawing colors and all
- Draw an apple – assuming you draw an apple, you can go about it however you want
The first prompt is restrictive. It carries with it a “do it my way OR ELSE” kind of vibe. The teacher is setting you up for failure by forcing you to follow their example.
The second prompt is freer. You know that you need to draw an apple, but you can go about the process in your own way.
Basically, there’s a difference between “how could I solve this problem?” and “what are some things I could do…”
I’ve had a lot of success with speculating on possibilities versus forming perfect answers, so that’s my process. And I’m quick to implement too!
What is Weekflow?
I’ve been coining a lot of terms as of late. I call these “concepts.”
I don’t expect all of them to stick. I tend to ditch those that don’t resonate with my audience. I have a feeling concepts like #StrategySunday, YearSheet, and Effectiveness Diagnostic are here to stay though…
Anyway, let’s talk about Weekflow.
Much has been said about batch processing (bulk tasking). If you don’t know anything about it, then reference the Chris Ducker article I’ve linked up for you.
Now, batching is a great way to ensure you have a specific focus for your days. It can help you be more productive overall because it tends to cut down on task switching and unnecessary distractions.
But Weekflow requires that you think strategically about how you’re batching, what you’re batching, and when.
If, for example, you’ve set aside Monday for writing blog posts and Tuesday for editing, formatting, and scheduling blog posts, then you’d need to ensure you don’t have any Monday deadlines you’d miss because you weren’t thinking far enough ahead. To meet the deadline, you would need to write, edit, format, and schedule all on the same day!
It’s critical that you know how one task flows into another (got it?).
Here’s another example. If you have a meeting on Wednesday that you need to prepare for, but your batching efforts don’t leave adequate time to be ready for that Wednesday meeting, your Weekflow is broken.
This is the main issue I’ve seen with batch processing. With Weekflow, you can account for such contingencies and ensure that you’re seeing what’s coming instead of being productive for productivity’s sake.
- I log my minutes inside my iPad, using my Apple Pencil
- Speculating on possibilities means to brainstorm and consider your options instead of getting hung up on being perfect
- Weekflow means to ensure there’s a proper flow and order to your week, like an assembly line
I hope your #StrategySunday questions were answered, but if there’s anything else you’d like to know, be sure to let me know.
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