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FAST CLASS: Workflow, Time Management and Productivity for Creatives

Lesson 9 of 9

Motivation and Distraction: How to Deal

Lisa Congdon

FAST CLASS: Workflow, Time Management and Productivity for Creatives

Lisa Congdon

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Lesson Info

9. Motivation and Distraction: How to Deal

Lesson Info

Motivation and Distraction: How to Deal

motivating with reward and accountability. Partnership. These are the two things I'm gonna talk about. Um, in terms of motivation, we'll talk about motivation first. Then we'll talk about distraction and like dealing with not having your phone on you. Okay, so first, let's talk about reward now. Time locking. We We've talked about the challenges of setting a timer right and and actually using it the way it's supposed to be using it. The we've talked about the benefits of time walking, but there's also some challenges to it, right, And that is that you've got to stay focused for a certain period of time on something that you might be dreading. It might actually be really boring. There are days I don't have the time block at all, because I'm so excited to do what I'm working on. And I may be only have one thing to do that day, and those were the best kinds of days. But when I'm overloaded with work and when I have to make progress on multiple projects, um, time blocking is really importa...

nt. But some of the time it's really challenging because I'm actually working on something that is not or over time has become kind of boring. You know, you could make the most beautiful, intricate drawing in the world. But the middle of it, you're like, when is this ever gonna end? When am I gonna finish this? So that's where we're aboard is helpful and can sometimes be motivating for people. So what I will dio is I will assign myself a task to complete in a time block. And then I'll say, if you do that, you get something special. Sometimes I don't have to do this at all. But so examples of rewards that work for me are taking myself out lunch, frozen yogurt in the afternoon during a 30 minute break, going to the art store for 30 minutes and trying out new pens an hour of digital drawing on my IPad. Um, watching my favorite TV TV program in the basement for 50 minutes. So, you know, you can combine reward into your break, right? So I'm gonna take a break, and I'm also gonna reward myself. Um, so I am a high like a spouse. Er of rewards. Okay. Another great strategy is to have an accountability partner. So finding another person in your life to help you with accountability. If you have a trusted friend or partner, um, somebody that can you. An accountability partnership means that that person not just holding you accountable, you're also holding them accountable. So you find somebody else who is also trying to work on time management and workflow and time blocking and all those things, Um, and use each other to drive your productivity so you want to check in with each other about how it's going over text. Um, at the end of the day, you might turn it into a competition like Who could be the most honest about how they did at the end of the day, give each other pep talks? Um, I have a best friend who I talked with several times a day, and we are always checking in with each other at the end of the day about how productive we were, check in with each other about how it's going, turning into a competition, give each other pep talks. Research suggests that finding a friend who can work towards your goals with you is one of the best ways to motivate change, and I think that's especially important for those of us who are freelancers and work alone. Um, it's a kind of lonely, isolating existence sometimes and so, finding people that are also working at home alone not to distract you like you want to put your phone away during your your work chunks but like really taking your productivity, uhm seriously and your ability to also take breaks and take care of yourself seriously and talking to somebody about how that's going for you. It's really great. Find someone you trust and like communicate clearly to them what you're working on, like what your work habit goals are so that they can help hold you to those get specific about actions you will want to take to meet your goals, as well as consequences and rewards for not taking action on them. You might think about setting up regular check in times. This could be a text message, just some little tips for working with an accountability partner. Even more important, I think, is developing a healthy relationship to distraction, and the reason I say develop a relationship to distraction and not eliminate distraction is that it is impossible to eliminate distraction. We all I think are constantly whether we're conscious of it or not working on that because it's just ever present in our lives. I mean, you're all adults. You can remember what it was like being a kid when we were all walking around with their phones all day. There's a new generation of people coming up who have no such experience. They don't know what it's like to walk around without a phone or constantly but and I and not that Phones and email and text and social media aren't the only distractions, but they're huge one. They're obviously other distractions in your life. If you have kids or animals or any other human beings in your life. There also could be distractions when you're trying to work. Okay, so first is sort of obvious, but it bears mentioning, and that is turning off social media notifications on your phone if you are fine to have your phone sitting next to you because you're pretty disciplined person. But you do actually have notifications around, um, social media just turn off the notifications that's been super helpful for me. Um, I also turn off sound. I don't actually don't know often when I get calls and I've missed client calls before because my sound is off. I knew I had the appointment, but I sometimes have to remember turn the sound on. But I'm so distracted by the even the vibration of ah e mail coming through have to be very careful. So if that doesn't work for you, you could also put the devices you're not using into another room. And we talked. So So one of the risks is that is that is that you're gonna miss something important. I doubt most time blocks are only two hours, and if you check your phone, I recommend time blocks not being more than two hours. And if you check your phone on your break and notice that somebody important has called you or emailed you obviously and it's time sensitive, obviously you can use your break toe, get back to that person. But I wouldn't worry too much about having your phone not right on you, because it's not like the world's gonna come to an end. I mean, trust your judgment. If you a family members ill or something, you can't be off your phone, then obviously you have to have it there. But if there's a way to put it away, I've personally found that helpful, especially if I'm having trouble focusing. Another thing that really works is wearing headphones. Um, I noticed here in the Creative Life offices, it's like open cubicles. And yes, sir, they were. I was here a couple days ago and there's music playing, and I was thinking to myself, I could never work here because there's music and there was like, Oh, no, I would just put my headphones on And I have noise canceling headphones, which are great, and so I would listen to my own music or just try to silence because I get very distracted by music. Unless it's music that I choose. I have a hard time drowning out outside noise, but pay attention to whether that helps or hinders you. Okay, you also want to de clutter. Your physical and virtual workspace is so some people are better able to focus when their surroundings air de cluttered. I also think this is really important for virtual spaces. Um, I am, uh, paper email cleaner. Outer. Um, and I get a lot of email. So this is my strategy for not being stressed out about email. So there's two things I did. Um, I even clean out my spam box every day, like I cannot stand toe, have more than a certain number of emails. Even when I'm traveling, I will check my email in, delete things every single day and only leave the unready things that I can't attend to that day in the UN Read messages. Um, go through that to do list that you are working on and cross things off that you've completed. That alone is like a very satisfying act. Straighten your physical workspace at the end of every day. Clear as much physical clutter is, you are able. You also want a structure solitude into your day. So if you can't complete your time blocks in a space by yourself, where you are most likely to focus and, you know, be able to set a timer in a way that maximizes your your ability to finish something, um, you wanna at least where headphones listen to ambient classical music Get away from other people if you can like, spending time with people is really important. But if you're trying to get stuff done you want to be in a place where you're not distracted by people or your pets if possible, or work in places or in areas of your house or times of the day when those distractions are the least likely. Um, research actually suggests that solitude is not just important for getting work done, but also for creativity. To really like happen, you have to be able to focus and feel some space around yourself. So try to stretch her solitude into your day to get things done often that just facing a wall instead of other people. If you're working a coworking space or um, you know, or in a library or whatever could be helpful, pay attention to your most productive times of the day. Take advantage of those. Don't just schedule the time, create a ritual around building a peaceful space. All right, so on that note, you can do this. Um and no, it will take time in practice. As I mentioned, this isn't something that you can adopt tomorrow and necessarily, like, feel like you've been doing it for five years and again I keep saying this over and over. But if you discover a twist to my system that works better for you, use it. Be innovative. There's been a lot of questions. Like What about doing it this way? Or what about this way? And my answer to all of those is Yes, yes, yes. I think the one exception is I I think I said when somebody was asking about working on one thing all day. You still want a lot time to deal with your email? Um, and admin because that will start to pile up. So you want to get through that every day, even if you the rest of the day you're working on one thing and taking breaks on Lee use. The only way these systems work for you is if you use them. So that's another thing. Like, don't complain to me in a week that this isn't working for you unless you're actually doing all of the parts working from big to this today, in this week. And then what am I gonna do this hour? Remove the distractions. Reward yourself for successful completion of tasker time blocks celebrate, and I do believe that is it. Thank you.

Class Description


Try a Fast Class – now available to all Creator Pass subscribers! Fast Classes are shortened “highlight” versions of our most popular classes that let you consume 10+ hours in about 60 minutes. We’ve edited straight to the most popular moments, actionable techniques, and profound insights into bite-sized chunks– so you can easily find and focus on what matters most to you. (And of course, you can always go back to the full class for a deep dive into your favorite parts.)

Full-length class: Workflow, Time Management and Productivity for Creatives

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You have everything you need to create and implement effective, lasting organizational systems, whether you know it or not. As creatives we’re taught to believe this isn’t true.

Do any of these common myths about creatives sound familiar to you?
  • Creatives are inherently disorganized
  • They’ll never get a handle on their workload.
  • They lack the ability to create solid systems for getting things done.

These false ideas keep so many creatives from even trying to seek better workflows and organization systems, and ultimately bars the creative from doing better work. Not only that, believing these negative perceptions leave so many feeling stressed, scattered and unable to fully capitalize on their artistic strengths. It’s time to shatter these myths and learn to create the systems you need to to your best work as a creative.

Fine artist, illustrator and author Lisa Congdon has worked with over 75 clients around the world including MoMA, REI Co-op, Harvard University, Martha Stewart Living, Chronicle Books, and Random House Publishing, among many others. In this class she will teach you how to establish effective, workflows and time management strategies that will streamline your processes and maximize creative work time. Lisa has spent years developing these systems. The monumental success of her career is proof these systems work. Join us.

In this class you will learn:

  • How to organize and implement a workflow system.
  • How to manage to-do lists effectively.
  • How to utilize time-blocking.
  • How to identify and manage the distractions that keep you from being productive.
  • And so much more...

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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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!