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How to Use Time-Blocking Effectively

Lesson 8 from: FAST CLASS: Workflow, Time Management and Productivity for Creatives

Lisa Congdon

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Lesson Info

8. How to Use Time-Blocking Effectively

Lesson Info

How to Use Time-Blocking Effectively

when you make your fault your to do list for the following day. You want to spend time blocking time for things on your to do list. So let's look at this example. So one way to approach this is simply time blocking in chunks and, you know, you have little breaks in between. Okay, so we've got the rough sketch. I think it's gonna take me about an hour. I've got the book illustration. 45 minutes. The magazine interview, etcetera. Any questions so far? Now, this is another approach. Who was the person asking earlier about calendar ring and that was you? Okay, so this is another way to approach it. So this might also go in your Google calendar. So you've got I know I start working at nine o'clock in the morning. I've got an hour that I want to spend, so I'm actually going to give it a specific chunk of time. Okay, this is super helpful. If you want to accomplish a lot of things in one day, then I've got a 15 minute. So I know I've written down that I'm gonna take 15 minute breaks all day l...

ong, and that's not a general rule like you can take breaks of any length, whatever works for you, then I've got the civil rights book. I'm gonna work on that for 45 minutes. The interview. I'm only gonna work on for 30 minutes because I just want to start it. I don't necessarily expect to finish it. I've even made time the next day for it. Then I'm gonna take a lunch break. Super important to schedule in your lunch break, right? And then I'm gonna get to let her I from 1 to 2, I'm gonna do my admin from 2 52 to 45. And again, that's arbitrary. You want to do admin when it makes sense for you? Some people like to do it first thing in the morning because that's when their inboxes the fullest and then I even I added this later. But I've got this, like, blank spot there. Do you guys see that on Monday? Because I'm done, and it's 2 45 I don't stop working until five o'clock. Right. So I've got 3 to 4 to catch up on stuff. See what happens when you time block like you actually can make time for yourself If you are focused enough during that time or like let's say you started Ah, rough sketch for letter H But you were, like, kind of stuck on that illustration. But then you had already assigned yourself that you were gonna go straight into the civil rights book after your first break and then later in the day, you can go back to that rough sketch and try to finish it. So this is like, I'm going to spend 60 minutes. I'm gonna spend minutes to spend, you know, like that Oneness flexible. You could do it in any order. If you're super organized or you get super organized and disciplined at this, you don't actually have to assign specific times in the day. You can just say I'm gonna work on this for an hour and we're gonna talk about setting a timer in a minute because that's super helpful. If you have a phone, you have a timer or you, in the beginning might be helpful to, like, be really specific about it. OK, but remember, time blocking isn't necessarily about finished something in that block of time. That's exactly what we're talking about before. So when I was getting ready to teach this class, there's no way I can finish writing all of the content. I also recorded another class here, so there's no way I could finish like creating the content for this class in the other class, in one sitting like it's that's weeks of work. If I tried that, I get tired and I wouldn't be at my best, right? So with all my big projects, um, if I worked at it for, say, 1.5 hours every day over the course of several weeks, I give myself specific tests during that 1.45 hours every day to work on Creativelive. But then I've got the rest of the day to work on other projects. So time locking allows you to focus on bigger projects over time, but in a way that doesn't eat up your whole day. So if I worked on the curriculum for my creative life class every morning from 9 to 10 30 in an hour and 1/2 chunk of time, that was focused by 10 30 I had the rest of the day to work on other projects and Within weeks, I had completed a lot of work on the class. I mean, obviously, that is really good for long term projects, right? Or projects that have a lot of lead time. Occasionally, as an illustrator or a designer, you'll get in a request from a client that you want to take, and it's like do tomorrow. And of course, in that case, you have to block off the whole day for that thing. But when you have long term projects that aren't due for a while but have, like multiple components, time walking is a great way to make progress on many projects. At one time, I love the feeling of knowing I've made steady progress on multiple projects in one day pro tip. You can a lot more than one time block to a task in a day. So, for example, I write a lot of books and one of writing a book. I often have a two hour writing block or illustration block in the morning. Then I block off an hour before lunch to do the illustrations, and then I'll go back to another two hour chunk in the afternoon, so I'm I'm working on the book all day because sometimes, like, that's the big thing I have on my to do list or on my workflow period. Um, but I am still taking breaks. I'm still blocking time. And I'm also toggle ing between different things, like research, writing illustration. So it's using different parts of my brain, so my brain isn't becoming totally fatigued. Doing one thing pro tip. When scheduling your blocks, pay attention to when you work best in your natural preferences. How many of you are morning people? Okay, how many of you are middle of the afternoon people? Okay. Evening, nighttime people. Anybody I feel like in the in the regular working world, you don't often have the flexibility to work when you work best. But as a freelancer, you really dio and I personally think it's agreed to take advantage of that to the extent that you can. I mean, if you're working with clients, you obviously have to work during the day and make sure you're communicating with people during working hours. But this is just such an important thing. You want to pay attention to other things, like not just your preferences, and when you work best, but like when you need to stop to eat, Um, when your family needs you the most when you typically get fatigued. Um, maybe when the best time for you to go to the gym and work out and take a break. So always, Tiner, most challenging tasks when you are the most productive. All right, if you have a bunch of short administrative tasks like email and finally we talked about this earlier, you can block off a shorter chunk of time each day to deal with that stuff in one block, like get it all in there together and try to get as much of it done. And if you wanna have, like, a separate little box or section or page in your notebook for all the administrative stuff you're trying to remember to dio, that doesn't really make sense to go in your workflow. Just make sure you capture it somewhere. Timers are great because sometimes you get so lost in something during time blocking that you actually for you, which is awesome, right? Like anytime you're working on something and you don't have the sense of urgency to, like, get up and move on to something else like That's great. That means you're being productive. Um, but yeah. Anyway, I hear you like the timer on the phone is kind of I mentioned that earlier, but yeah, it's a little dangerous. So I have also had a like a kitchen timer before, so that because we're gonna talk about in a second is leaving your phone in the other room. Especially if you're somebody who's super distracted by social media or checking email. Um, so but timers are great. And again, ultimately, this is up to you. If you want to be more productive, you have to sort of, like, get used to and be really disciplined about using a system like this and again that part might feel oppressive. But at the same time, if you're ending every day having, like, worked through chunks of time and accomplished a lot, you're going to start seeing the results and feeling the results, and then you're going to start craving. I guarantee the satisfaction. Almost the high that comes from finishing a lot of things in one day will actually get you better into the habit of doing the of using the systems to time block in time because you're going to start Feel like literally not seeing the results you're gonna start feeling in the results.

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Ratings and Reviews


While I'm not a designer, I'm a creative who is responsible for multiple projects, most of which take a week or months. Lisa's use of Google sheets then breaking things down is super helpful. I appreciate the bonus document! Thanks for the Fast Class version! So many of the Creative Live classes are far too long and need to be edited.

mary gabriola

I really enjoyed the class with Lisa. She's a clear and engaging speaker, and the examples she provided really bring the course material to life. She's talking mostly about creative projects, and since I have many writing projects on the go that works for me. I also am using her approach to set up other projects, though -- gardening and renovations and such -- and I think it's going to work really well. Thanks, Lisa!

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