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How to Get More Done

Lesson 15 of 17

Prioritize: Keep Track

Tara Swiger

How to Get More Done

Tara Swiger

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Lesson Info

15. Prioritize: Keep Track

Lesson Info

Prioritize: Keep Track

Now, the whole reason we're talking about either scheduling or buckets is because you don't want to start your day blank. It is a vital that, and when I say day, I mean work session, whether you're starting at eight am are starting at four p m it's important for you to have some already pre organized plan for at least some aspect of what you're going to dio. So whether that's that your calendar says do this this this or that, you know, these are my bucket, these my tasks and my buckets for the week I'm gonna pick a bucket and work on it. You just don't want to start today blank, because that's, how the whole spiral into the pit of despair starts is you. You start blank, you're not sure what to do. Maybe you look at your big list or you don't have a list, so you kind of look around and you sort of what am I supposed to do? Oh, you pull it out of your head. You're not quite sure you end the day, you're not sure you did what mattered you don't start the day blank, you skip all that and yo...

u go right teo, I know what work on, you know, when all this talk about buckets. We have kind of hinted at email and I want you to beware of email email is scary and dangerous, and it can it can push you into the pit of despair all by itself that because I went first, talk about the science of email and what it does to your brain is like a short bit of science, not a lot, but you so your brain works in two networks they've discovered one is task positive, which is focused and productive, and one is test negative, which is roaming around, and as an artist you spend a lot of time that task negative roaming around, collecting ideas and task positive is a focused now checking email or even being dinged by an email notification takes a brain that's focused, and it distracts it. So then you roam like even just the rome to your phone to see what happened or the rome to your inbox to read that email, you're not getting emails or short and small, so you're not getting into a super focused mode unless you're working on a really long, important email and then you finish it and then there is the next one on a totally different topic. So it keeps pushing your brain out of the nice, focused space task positive space into the totally vague roaming around, and once you get into the vague roaming around, your brain stays there for a good chunk of time and what they've learned. Is it something like over ten minutes? When you get into roaming mode, you stay in rowing boat? I know you guys have noticed if your phone things with the notification and you open it up, then you maybe open a social network, whether it's facebook or twitter, instagram and then maybe you look up interest and then maybe you do check your e mail and they were like, wait doesn't get that text from that person and you being urine roaming mode for at least twenty minutes will pass, and you're like, what? Like, uh one notifications that meat totally over the edge, so email is like that if you have e mail open while you're doing your work, you're going to keep being pushed into roaming, mowed your brain is going to keep looking roaming around, looking at things that's, new and shiny, so close it, turn it off already talked about notifications, right? You've got all your notifications ofthe but closed down email and don't let yourself just freed on email because it it throws off your focus now. Email khun b a bucket obviously you've got to do is you got to deal with it. You gotta answer customer questions. You'd like that's where opportunities come in and new clients email you, but make it a bucket. Make it a chunk of time that you work on it. I'm a fan of there's. Hardly any of us have businesses that need to deal with email more than two or three times a day, and three is maybe even excessive if you dealt with it first thing in the morning or your work session and the last thing in your work session, you would hit everybody within like a twelve hour reply rate. Um, unless you are an e r doctor, nobody needs you to reply more than twenty four hours, right? And you guys are looking at me that can shock that I would say that, but I promise you like no one will die and decide never to work with you again. If you spend more than twenty four hours replying to them, it takes you a while to reply. And so you have to ask yourself because I know it's challenging for a lot of people tio toe scale back their email checking and answering like what's the negative consequence. But what's the positive consequence all your brain wants to do is tell you the negative and wants to be like customers won't buy from you you're going to lose customers you're going to not have any friends everybody will hate you the positive consequences that are actually get work done that matters going to do stuff that those customers and clients love maybe you're going to create new system that allow you to serve them better you're going great new products for them, you know make their life better through doing what you do but not if you're constantly distracted by their email. So have we all been properly warned off email? Okay, so that is the we have now covered the setting aside a time because your system has setting us at a time which I believe now done and you know pretty much how you're going to fill it whether you're going to schedule it or you're going toe bucket and then keep track of what needs to be done is a second part and then of course do what matters so let's talk about keeping track what needs to be done if you flip to page eighteen you'll see that I ask you just like we did with setting us at a time what is your system for this now? How do you keep track of task now and how is that working for you so anita shared her way that she lists tasks how about you guys anybody else want to share how do you currently keep track of tasks anybody yeah a planner okay so do you write tell me which right now uh what needs to be down the next day it's actually it's copious planner she's a great one so it gives me that the whole of the day and then the next week what's coming up so I repeat that each day and I always keep I always kind of what's coming up I love that but how about a big picture what needs to be done that's at the bottom how then I use them out making to try I read that every day you see and I didn't even know that's what you're going to say you've already worked through all of that to jews for your goal and then you put them on each day and anything you want to get done gets moved forward to the next day clinton ideal world yeah I know right how about in the chat room soon the question is how do you keep track of test now and it is that working for you and then the follow up of course and this is in your workbook to shred it on what how could you make that better how do you make it work better for you if it's not working yet? Well I definitely you know, I feel like I used to many things to keep track I have a paper schedule er you know like filofax kind of thing and I have my phone calendar and then I have like a brazilian things like this floating around the house with different kinds of lists on them so I feel like I spend a great deal of time maintaining all these different things and then I forget to check them at appropriate times and I miss stuff that I've already tried to schedule and yes, you know just so which intimidated it could be in one place and kind of consistency of it's always in this one place I got this one place you have all my answers okay I think I think that makes sense yeah I'm the queen of the phone alerts so whether it's I have to make this call or I have to do this or I schedule it and then there's the one alert that happens maybe fifteen minutes before when an hour before if it's a bigger thing like something isn't happened for maybe another two months bigger tasks I'll get alert a week before and then a day before because honestly I cannot because I'm scheduling me and my daughters right my god my husband so you know, I don't know when my daughter to the orthodontist so I can't say I'm going to work every single wednesday because one wednesday something will being away, right. So those alerts are great because I know if it's something big a week in advance a day in advance and I as you get a giant or time, like if you normally work with days. But, you know, you have an orthodontist appointment the next week. Yeah. Reminded, right. You get the alerts. Have to. Those are one that's. One thing that alerts that I cannot turn off because there was are those keep me in czech, right? So they work well, that makes sense. It's. Good. It's. Good that you've identified one part of it that works. Um, what did you have your we do? Yeah, we have some coming in now. We have t beater says I used a planner with different color pens. I use different colors in google calendar from my family stuff. So little you know, khun, do those different colors were just great amy's not dead yet says that keep track of tasks mostly in my brain. Terrible that along. Have it. And occasionally I'll dump them out onto a page. I'm really glad you're here with us today, teo. Creative name says too many places for me. I used notebooks, index cards, omni focus reminders, etcetera. That's part of the risk of me sharing the apse before things you could use is that it's very tempting to put a bunch of things in a bunch of aps and then just kind of have them all floating, reminding you, telling you, being at you, so if you keep track of what you do now, I've got a question couple questions, is it working for you, which we just talked about it, and what do you like about it? So it was great that ellen said, what you like about what works now is that it reminds you, and it helps you think ahead about things you wouldn't remember. This is one of the things you want to identify with your system now. Now they're just keeping it in your head system. I don't know what you like about that. It might be driving you crazy, but then also do you find yourself still worrying about forgetting something? So whatever your system is now, the question is, does it keep you from worrying about forgetting something? Maybe in your case, not so much, but it might if you just do appointments that way, and not like work projects and work projects might just, like fall away and exactly that's the thing it's it's, the interruptions. That I chart not necessarily the projects for the tasks that I chart yes look good to identify so that's what you're after is to find a way of tracking those thing right and reminding you in the same way and then and the following question, do you actually forget things? Or does the system have you covered? So just to kind of distinct things about if you if you worry about forgetting things or you actually forget things and you're late and you miss every appointment that's different than being worried, and the distinction here is that often we have a system that we think will work, but we're actually constantly stressed did I remember that? I forget that? Did I get that in on time? I'm not sure if this will get done in time, so what we want to create and that's why you end the day not feeling great is but we want to create is a system that you can be confident it's keeping me on track, I'm doing what I need to dio I'm reviewing it regularly. I know I'm getting it done, I'm not worried and I'm not forgetting things because some people just aren't worried and yet they're late name is things all the time you wanna answer both questions? Are you stressed about it still on? Or does it actually keep you from forgetting things? And then what did you do to make it better? Which is part of what we just talked about a little bit, and these questions are in page eighteen. So take notes about whatever is coming to you as we talk. If you hear someone else's idea like offense, I'm gonna have an idea and I hurry, go, go write that down, you will put it into play in your own system. So there's a couple things that your system of tracking needs, it needs to start with the consistency and that's what we're talking about a little bit a minute ago is it needs to go in the same place all the time, so if you keep it in the planner in the mat making guide, you know, it's there, if you fell off for a week, you come back to it, you wouldn't have lost your list, you would have lost the things that matter and that you need to get done so consistency. Also, the problem with multiple notebooks is then you're always like not sure where something is and that's a system that make you constantly afraid you're going to forget something nothing ever reminds you hey, don't forget this because you're not able to regularly review it, so consistency in order have consistency, you need ease of adding so that might be an app on your phone or it might be a notebook that you just I have a notebook I meant to bring it up here I keep in my purse all the time I add things to it all the time the problem with it though and it's got a finite amount of space and when I'm done with one month's notebook and I put it on the shelf all the things that added to it I have to move to the next notebook so that's why I started using app on my phone because now my phone is always with me I can easily add things it's got infinite space so I can add things for two years from now and it's going to still remember and then the last bit of this and this has to do with consistency to is regular lee review you need your system to all be in one place and easy to add too so you can look at it because like we talked about with the buckets of time need to be able to see what you're going to do with this week and this day and that's what I mean by regular review is that you're regularly checking in on your list because if you make a big list but you never look at it it's not gonna help you and if you make a big list and then you you don't see what you're going to do today, it's not going to help you you have to have a system for breaking it down. I do it weekly in daily I'll tell you a little bit about that now, so I made a super detailed post with links to everything at this here when we're kind of walking through it. So what? Ideo because eso so you guys have all the information I'm more over here in the rebel I'm like I like to schedule some things I was able to show up here on time today, but I d'oh I've less scheduled I'm not a super schedule or at all that said I used a planner and I use the least blas get tau workbook simply because it's, the first planner I found that organized things the way I used to do in my notebooks so before that I would at the beginning of the quarter set a goal work to the mat making guide tio identify all of the tasks not just the project but the individual tasks that I want to get done to reach that goal and they also keep track of all the tasks I just need to be done daily stuff running my business consistent stuff like that then I think okay kind of chung colapinto a month, right? This is one month and then each week I make a list it's, like I talked about with my different buckets these with all the things I need to do this week and then each day I look at that list I don't pre schedule, I don't pre planned I don't tell myself wanting to do tomorrow very often the mines it depends I look at the list, I picked the things I most feel like doing I worked on it during the sessions usually using a pomodoro timer of twenty minutes on five minutes off seven, nine, five minutes off often leads to like ten or fifteen runs off and uh, and along with the things that I'm working on, the tasks I'm doing for my business, there is also supposed to be just two chunk today for email and also a chunk or little bits then of like, so I often work the coffee shop and I get it my coffee mug refilled like a zillion times when I'm standing in line to get it refilled, I'd check social media on my social media scheduled, but I'm actually interacting with people in those little blips of time or in my five minutes awful open up my phone not a tab on my computer or else I'll never get back to work, but if I do it on my phone I can like put my phone back away so that's my system, you see how it has ease of adding, I have the have the planner and I actually have an app where I tell myself toe add things if I'm out and I don't have the planner with me, I say add this to your list tomorrow and then when I sit down each day, I don't think I said that at the beginning of my work session, I review what has to be done this week. I look att do I have any calls? Do I have any things scheduled? Um, I need to add anything to the list of anything come up and then I pick the things for the day, so I'm not taking things all day long. I identify the things at the beginning of the work session, so that's, what works for me, but everybody is going to be different, but you see how it has the regular review, I look at the whole big picture every three months set aside each month, which we do at the beginning of the month, I kind of look it, okay, what chunk of this project and I working on now and keep in mind I keep saying this project, but I actually usually have three or five projects you guys are the same, you don't ever just have one thing you're doing. But I make sure that my goal for the quarter like the top thing I am paying attention teo because I know the other stuff is going to get done but the goal I want toe review those things and make sure they're making their way into my daily actions because if I don't like, you'll never reach the bigger goals like I have a bigger bowl now that's a long term project and if I don't make sure that I added to my list each week I'm never going to do it because it's not as pressing as somebody asking me a question or my email inbox or like traveling in teaching those things were a lot more immediate but after review the big gold task to move them into the daily two duis does that make sense? Okay, so when I had a side about this is the important part of my system now that I walked for all that is that I break down big projects and tasks that's what we talked about earlier I don't just say work on but proposal they specifically work on this one past this week and I also write down my weekly priorities which something I didn't say the beginning of each monday I look at all the things after I've written down all the tasks that I'm going to do that week and say what are the three most important things? What are those things that if everything exploded and nothing got done right got sick and I laid on the couch what are the three things I'm going to really need to have gotten done this week? Sometimes the things were really easily identifiable. Like I had to finish this workbook for you guys it had to get done right but sometimes it's not pressing and it's my own goals if I'm gonna move this project forward I really want to get this so identify my three weekly and priorities and then each day I set the most important tasks for the day and in future sides oh, see me refer to this is emmett that's most important tasks and I did not make that up. I believe that might be might be from the getting things done book but people use this a lot a sword hand, so I each morning or whenever I start a work session, I say, what are the three most important two to three most important things that if, like I fell asleep in an hour what am I gonna wish I got done? And then I do those first some incense so it's my system and are there questions in the chat room about that before I let me check, okay, you know, one of the questions and it's similar to what you were talking about earlier that had come in was how do you manage your time when you have a changing schedule like, for example, a part time job and things just aren't consistent? Well, so so it's there's a couple different ways you could have a changing schedule if you have a part time job, you usually know your schedule at least a week beforehand they tell you your hours so he could do when you get your hours for the next week look at when are my work chunks going to go in here? And the important thing again is not that your work trunks to be at the same time, but that you identify them and then you plan for what you're going to do. So you're not starting the day blank when you go in, but if it's variable because of kids or because of like appointments come up, you khun decide like I said that I work to somebody who has the rule that every time she has time for herself is a work session and she knows she has a task that will take ten minutes and pass it will take twenty minutes and task it will take two hours so she's eats how much time do I have right now and especially when your kids are really young and they're at home constantly and with you constantly, your trunks were gonna be smaller and much more variable andi that's just like a stage of life like we talked about earlier and that stage of life will pass and they'll be in school, maybe probably end then you'll have bigger chunks of time. Also, you can do things and I think something mentioned this new chap like waking up earlier or working later in the day. You can identify chunks that no one else is going to impinge on. And then I wanted to point out that these pieces breaking down the projects in the tasks writing down your wee grey priorities and setting the most important tasks for each day it doesn't matter what software you use, I write things out and then I write in this planet because the planner looks like what I was writing anyhow in my notebook, but I could also do it in omni focus. I could do it in asana. I can do it in any software. The important thing is that you it's what we talked about it's not gonna go that there's consistency ease of adding and regular review because you can use any software. And if you don't review it it's not gonna help it's not gonna work. So that's what you want to keep in mind and then I wanted to share what some of my students love it actually, joe was in the class yesterday and she's she's, in this picture s o one of the things my students is bullet journal dot com, you guys can go there. That's a a way of tracking your tasks and making your plan for the day similar to what I said, but, yeah, it's like a beautifully laid outside, and he gives you a video. And, um, but journal dot com and people might share in the chat that's, a super popular site that other people mentioned. Yeah, it's like a huge favorite, and also there's a book getting things done by david allen. If you really want to be told exactly what to do, this book will tell you that any other way is wrong, and you should do it this way, and people love it and find it really effective. So I think it is it is more, it works for a lot of schedulers, but it is you will learn things by reading it. So if you're looking for something else and what I described sounds horrible, check out getting things done, because what matters most again is that you find something you can work with. So I mentioned that you need consistent consistency and need regular review, and what you are going to regularly review are a couple things. The first one is your goal and what you're working towards, so where where you going? Because again I don't care how efficient you are you're not effectively moving towards your goal the only way to know that you're moving towards your goal is to review it and where you are where goal is the progress you've made and then you also wanna regularly review what you want to get done this week. So this is where the rubber meets the road we have talked about tracking things we talked about setting about setting aside time but weekly at least you want to check in on your project that you're working on and identify what you want to do. So this is the part where we take your big list of sixty days and we boil it down into what are we going to get done this week? So each a day you don't read all sixty tasks you read like ten you know? So we've identified what do you really want to get done this week? And then each day what you're going to do today what you most important for you to get done some people find that they work really well if they just pick three things and they focused on those three things other people find if they just pick three things, then they just do it dolly and they really mean like ten things because I don't really like pump a memento like buckling down and getting it done it's totally upto what works for you but recognize it if you pick three things and you find yourself waits for a lot of time try picking twenty I'm gonna get twenty tiny tiny tasks done and one of this two of those half might be checking it now but but if you identify what your going to do today then you don't you know what to do during your time and then you can do it effectively so what I want for you guys to dio is now choose choose what you're going to dio on that this is on page eighteen so asked what ideas did you hear that you want to implement? Hopefully you're making notes where will you keep track? Where will you keep track and you'll try keep tracking a notebook some people keep track and aps but you'll notice here I just wanted to give one answer you're going to keep track in just one place not fifty places but one so where you going to keep track and then when will you check your list and choose that day's most important tasks I want you to keep in mind when I say day and you don't have to have a named our day you could have a a twenty minute day whatever your work session is for that day choose what's most important you might have three twenty minute work sessions all spread out through your day that's your first one identify first what matters it takes you maybe five minutes, but make sure that all of your other minutes air spent effectively, so fill out page eighteen and then it it's funny that you mentioned that you like the timer in the notifications because what I say at the page of the bottom of page eighteen is to set a timer to check your list. So a lot of people say I started a plan, but I couldn't get consistent with checking in on it each day, so I make a big list, but then I never boiled it down into what I need to do this week and what I need to do this day. And so I suggest, just set a timer on your phone or set a reminder on your phone to remind you, check your list said it, like ten minutes before you're going to start working. So when you go to start working, you think before you start working after check, my list and this, like we talked about is a habit of productivity, so whatever tools or tricks you would use to create a new habit you can use to create the habit of checking your list and prioritizing your day.

Class Description

Stop fretting over the limited number of hours in a day and get to work – the smart way! In How to Get More Done, Tara Swiger will lay out a simple action plan that will help you manage your time, your business, and your family life more efficiently.

When Tara's online yarn shop replaced her day job, she fielded a lot of questions about the secret to her success. One thing led to another and now she is devoted, full-time, to helping other crafty entrepreneurs realize their dreams. In this class, she’ll help you take control of your calendar and build your business. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Implement a simple system for managing your time and tasks 
  • Prioritize time with your family 
  • Balance business, life, production, and marketing 
  • Strike the perfect balance between “studio time” and “admin time" 

You’ll identify your time-sucks and unproductive distractions and overcome common scheduling pain points by developing an action plan that works. 

Learn how to create a workday you'll love - no matter how (little) time you have. You’ll make the most of your time, keep track of your to-dos, and get the things that matter done in How to Get More Done with Tara Swiger.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Kickstart Your Profits

Bonus Materials

Get More Done Resources

Get More Done Workbook

Ambitiously Forecast Your Sales Calculator by Tara Swiger.xlsx

Improve Your Holiday Sales Sketch Note

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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a Creativelive Student

A really great class. As a newer creative business owner I have had trouble with always feeling like no matter what I worked on it wasn't the right thing or it wasn't enough. I think the advice in this class will help me feel better about my accomplishments and keep me focused on the things that will help my business. Thanks!

Jacqui Kelly

I loved it! start to finish really packed full of sensible easy to follow advice - great workbook and extra materials. Highly recommended. Tara does continually mention STARSHIP and MAPPING with out any background info on these topics which began to niggle at me but guess the answers are on her website. This was my first full class after purchasing my Creator Pass and it gets a 10/10