This post originally appeared on The Sparkline.
Now that we’re coming to the end of the year everyone is doing their annual planning and review (us included). The biggest problem I’ve had doing these in the past is that I overcommit myself to what can actually be accomplished.
I expect myself to be able to create too much content every week, when realistically I can usually only complete one shippable piece of written, audio, or video content a day (if that).
On a given day you may easily start or work on multiple things, but actually completing them takes the most amount of work and focus.
Yes, in a single day, you may outline a blog post, record a podcast interview, and shoot some of a video, but try to think of a single day where you actually shipped or scheduled more than one piece of content.
Can you even think of that happening once?
In this essay I’m going to share why you need to be deliberate with both what you spend your most focused time doing and how you make sure it happens everyday.
Eat the Frog
Brian Tracy, author of the book Eat That Frog!, says you should be doing your most important task for the day first thing in the morning.
On average there are 260 weekdays a year, counting holidays and vacations. If you take away those, you’re left with 240 mornings to get things done. 240 mornings to do your most important tasks. That is only 20 large, creative tasks a month.
If you’ve committed to doing one blog post a week and one podcast or video a week, that already gets you to 104 of your 240 tasks for the year. Not to mention if one of those posts or podcasts or videos takes more than one day to make. Nearly 50% of your creative output. Half your year. Gone.
Instead of starting your to do list with 10 to 20 tasks that you’ll get done, why not plan out your day by choosing just one thing to create and complete today? Then after you’ve finished it, sit down and make the huge list of tasks for the rest of the day.
- Plan your week by choosing the five things things you’ll create.
- Plan your month by choosing the twenty things you’ll create.
- Plan your year by choosing the two hundred forty things you’ll create.
Make these tasks the most important pieces of content that you can make to grow your business, audience, and revenue. But how can you make sure they actually get done each day?
Treat Your Creation Time as Sacred
As a creative, you must treat the time of your day that you work best as sacred. Whether that is first thing in the morning or late at night, nothing should get in the way you of you actually creating, everyday.
The problem is that unless you specifically block off that time on your calendar (which is the only really “sacred” place for time commitments these days), it won’t happen. You end up forcing your best and most important work (writing, podcasting, video production) in between meetings, errands, and other less important tasks in the middle of your day.
If you instead determine what time of day you think and create best (for me that is first thing in the morning), you’ll create more great art on a consistent basis.
Block off those two hours every day on your calendar. Treat them as sacred. Don’t let anyone take that time away from you. Don’t schedule any meetings, appointments, or errands during that time.
Then during that time, turn off all distractions. Unplug the Internet, give your phone to someone else or put it in another room, and put on your headphones with the music you work best to.
Create One At A Time
When you spend the time to break down your creative output this way, you can really focus on how much you can actually accomplish. One day at a time. One big task at a time.
Planning out the whole month or year of content is great. We do that here at Fizzle. Throughout December we’ve been planning exactly what we are going to release every month, week, and day for all of next year.
But at any given moment, each of us can only be working on one thing at at time. We should each be working on whatever our next deliverable is on our content calendar.
No, that last sentence isn’t sexy, but it is what we need to do to effectively grow Fizzle Co., which is essentially a publishing company. We deliver free content here on The Sparkline and The Fizzle Show. We deliver courses, interviews, and other paid content within Fizzle. Other than the occassional speaking gig, which is also content, that is the majority of what we do.
When you break down exactly what you do day in and day out to deliverables, you can plan your days around the capacity you have for creating great work.
One piece at a time.
What environment helps you create your best work? What time of day, location, and mood do you need to schedule your focused creation during?
Let me know in the comments below this post.