006: 3 Tips for Scheduling and Personalized Productivity #LetsGetReal
Do you finish your to-do list before most people have even hit snooze? Or maybe you do your best work during the graveyard shift with a mellow beats playlist. As a new entrepreneur, I’m still exploring schedules but have found solid techniques to personalize productivity.
00:00 - Welcome to another episode of the Sublation Studio podcast and a special edition of the “Let’s Get Real” series. These episodes are going to be shorter than usual, they’re raw, they’re unfiltered, off the cuff. I’m going to mess up and stumble over words, but it’s the real deal! So let's get real about schedules and productivity….
00:18 - Let’s talk about the self-proclaimed gurus preaching that getting up at 4:30am is the ONLY way to take back your schedule and get the most out of your day. That ain't for everybody. Some people genuinely are more productive at other hours. Some people have kids - and we know how those little spawn can throw off a schedule! Some people have someone they care or a long commute. Some people work night jobs and don't get into bed until 1am. Some single parents are working a day job and going to school at night so they’re not trying to hear nothing before 7am.
00:50 - If you want to try the early bird routine for a few weeks, go for it. You might be surprised but if it doesn't benefit you, that's okay. Don’t beat yourself up. I read in groups all the time, people say they tried it and when it didn’t work for them, it made them feel like a failure, like they’re lazy, they started to doubt their commitment to sparkle motion. Donnie Darko reference... Yes, everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, including Beyonce, but Beyonce got a team. The whole thing about scheduling is finding what works for you in terms of your lifestyle and productivity. Adding “more” hours to your day is pointless if you're not productive. Say you wake up at 4:30am and then you’re scrolling on Instagram for 2 hours. You could’ve been sleeping! And some people aren’t even looking for “productive” hours and instead want more “free” time to spend on themselves, friends, or family.
01:48 - Since starting the business, I have tried a variety of schedules. Early bird, night owl, midday siesta, all that. To keep it real, I still don’t have a schedule. While that part is still in progress, there are 3 concrete things that have helped me with… dun dun dun… productivity. And no, I don’t mean it in the toxic hustle culture way but that’s ATFAD: another topic for another day.
How I Personalized Productivity
Making a list the night before, blocking out time based on task type, and keeping a notepad handy for stray thoughts
Prioritize for your specific needs
Start with a clean slate
02:17 - The first thing that did help me, regardless of what sleep schedule I was on, was making a list the night before. No fancy journal or fancy bullet system. Just a straight up list on some Dollar Store notepad. It helped dull the buzzing in my brain at night which was apparently prime-time for my neurons to fire up thinking of what I had to do the next day or prioritizing or just feeling overwhelmed. Shout out to my anxiety people! With my list, I tried to group the work into time-blocks of similar tasks: deep-dive creative work got its own block and a series of quick tasks, like admin stuff that could be batched together, got its own block. If I was working the next day during one of those time blocks and an idea popped in my head or I drifted to one of the 152 tabs I had open, I’d write down the idea or thought then force myself to stay focused on the task at hand. That was a big relief because I wasn’t worried I’d forget what just popped into my head and it stopped me from wasting time fumbling about on this tangent or feeling overwhelmed because one idea triggered another and another and turned into a spiral of adding to my mental to-do list.
03:51 - The second thing that helped was getting real with prioritizing. Some people use the Important-Urgent chart aka the Eisenhower Matrix. I’ll leave a link in the description but basically the chart helps you decide if you should do, plan, delegate, or eliminate something. I got real with how I actually work instead of what the productivity bosses were pushing. I personally need blocks of uninterrupted time because, for me, “multi-tasking” is a lie. I end up doing 3 half-assed things instead of 1 fully executed thing. Batching smaller tasks gives me more instant gratification through a sense of accomplishment that I don’t get from finishing the tasks of larger projects. It feels good to scratch something off your list or check a box. Don’t lie, you love it, it’s great.
05:26 - The third thing that helped me to become more productive was more of a “reset” action. Inbox Zero may be a myth for some but I have seen the promised land, y’all. I set aside a huge block of time to gut out my email and then moving forward I had the policy of taking action right when I was viewing the email. Read and delete, flag/categorize, or unsubscribe. Even flagging/categorizing I made sure there was a reason for it (such as saving the confirmation email for finance tracking as an expense for the business later in the week) so that I wasn’t just flagging it to read later and then get caught up with inbox madness just like prior to the sweep. One tool that was dope, and I still use, is called Unroll.me. No, I’m not getting any coin for promoting them. It collects all the emails you’re subscribed to and you can either have them sent to your inbox moving forward, rolled up into a summary email, or unsubscribe. It was huge in seeing how much junk I actually had accumulated. The only thing I wish they had was instead of one big email of things rolled up, I wish they let you have several lists so for example, all my design related emails in one roll-up, my news emails in another roll-up, etc
07:47 - Some people have run on a schedule like a little drill sergeant since they were 7. Some people can barely remember what day it is let alone what time and what they should be doing. Be patient with the process and really listen to how you respond to tweaks in your workflow. It may take some trial and error for some people and others may get it right on the first try.