How to Create an Effective Workflow


Workflow, Time Management and Productivity for Creatives


Lesson Info

How to Create an Effective Workflow

So let's, you ready to dive in to the first tool? Okay. So. Talk about organizing a workflow. What is a workflow? How many of you have heard this term workflow before? Okay, lots of you. So, workflow can mean lots of different things. It literally can, your workflow can mean literally, like, how you work through a project, like an illustration or a piece of art, like what is your creative process, it can mean that. It can mean something way bigger, too. But, when we're talking about workflow for this class, what it generally means is the intentional planning of your projects from start to completion. Workflow organizes the flow of your work as you begin, work on and complete a project. So, tracks the progress or plans the progress from start to finish, okay. It also organizes all your projects in one place so you can see at a glance all of the things that you're responsible for. This was a big one for me. I would say the vast majority of my stress when I first started out, like, not wh...

en I really first started out but when my career started to take off and I started to have a lot of projects for the first time and I didn't know how to balance all of them, I think it was Michelle who was commenting that she, that's what she struggles with. Most of my stress came from thinking that I was forgetting something constantly. Like I know there's something I should be doing right now but I don't know what it is or, like, I got an email about a project but I never put it in a central place with my other projects so all of the things I was responsible for were sort of sitting in all of these different places and then I was constantly worried I was forgetting something. So having a central place to organize your projects is really important and that's part of what your workflow does. As creatives, we work mostly on projects that have a start and an end, which is great. Things like completing assignments from clients, engaging in personal projects or daily challenges or working on a body of work for a gallery show, these are a few examples. Our projects come in various grain sizes. Some projects are short and quick, right? Things you could do literally in an hour and some are weeks long, they don't all fit in the same box and they should be treated differently. Sometimes projects are long commitments that take weeks or even months. Organizing and tracking them despite their depth or breadth is really important. So just like with any job, staying organized amidst multiple projects is crucial. Workflow planning encourages us to think about everything we're responsible for currently. So what is it I have on my plate today? Next week, like, what am I responsible for? Even if I'm not gonna work on it today. Knowing and having your head wrapped around everything you're responsible for is part of what workflow does for us. Part of what it forces us to think about is how long each project or assignment might take. We don't ever really know. But taking an educated guess to start is really important. How we will organize our time to complete the project. The order in which things need to happen to complete the project efficiently, both within and between projects. So which projects need to happen in what order and inside of projects, the sort of smaller task is inside of a project. And what other projects are happening simultaneously and how we can work all of them and still make progress. And that's one thing that the to do list and time blocking will really help with. When we think intentionally about these things, we are more likely to feel in control of our time, less stressed and finish projects on schedule. Okay. Workflow systems help us to not forget anything, as I mentioned, half of our stress is worrying we're forgetting to do something important because it's not captured somewhere. So you wanna think of workflow not jut as the organization of your projects but the recording of the organization of your projects in a central place. If you could remember everything you're responsible for, you wouldn't need a system, you wouldn't be in this class, this class wouldn't exist. If our brains were wired for that, we wouldn't need systems but they're not. This place is your workflow document. So workflow documents, I'm gonna show you an example shortly. They record projects, one-off tasks and what I mean by that is, like, oh gosh, somebody from a magazine or a blog wants to interview you about your work and you have to complete the interview questions or somebody's requested that you send them images of your work for, ya know, to be part of something, like things that take, ya know, maybe at most an hour or two, sometimes even just 15 minutes. Anything you need to complete or deliver, we call these deliverables, I'm gonna use that term a lot. Anything you need to deliver to another person or a client or even to yourself. If you are somebody who does a lot of personal projects, like I do, and by personal projects, I mean personal creative projects. In order to stay on top of those, you need to include them in your system because what's the first thing to go when we have a lot of projects? Our own work. And sometimes that's the most important work we do everyday is personal work, personal projects, personal daily challenges. You can even have a section for your projects in your personal life as I mentioned earlier. I keep, I'm gonna talk about keeping a rolling to do list and a notebook and I have a section in here for, like, random stuff outside of my work life. But my work life and my home life are so intertwined that I can't separate it and so I don't have a spot in my workflow for personal projects, I just have a spot in my notebook but that's what works for me but I know some people who keep a section in their workflow for big projects, home projects, life projects.

Class Description

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 to 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…


Corinne Lent

I was SO overdue for this class. As a freelancer and creative person I struggle with keeping myself organized and managing my time. The problem can escalate to the point where I am so overwhelmed and behind on my work that I lose motivation to climb such a huge hill. This class had precise formulas and a way of creating a system that is flexible and can be applied to lots of different careers and situations. The information was delivered by Lisa in such a direct and clear way that even a person like me (not naturally good at project management) can understand it and apply it. I can't wait to get the wheels in motion. It was so relieving to get this lesson from such a talented, busy and successful artist, whom at one point or another faced these issues and found solutions. She kept us engaged and somehow turned cleaning our schedules up into a fun task. TAKE THIS CLASS if anything resonates here.


Even though I already had a system similar to what Lisa teaches, I gained valuable insight that will help me to gain even more productivity! I feel very affirmed, and am grateful for her wisdom. Whether you are fairly organized or are floundering, I cannot recommend this class enough! I truly believe her class fills in a gap that has not been addressed enough for us creatives! Thank you Lisa! I feel empowered!


As creatives, especially if we have a lot of personal projects that require self-motivation, the principles that Lisa shares (and we implement!!) can help us keep on track and be more productive. I look forward to using the ideas to help better schedule my time so that not only am I getting more done, but allowing more freedom of my time to be more spontaneous to life and creativity. Thanks so much Lisa!