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Class Introduction

Lesson 1 from: Workflow, Time Management and Productivity for Creatives

Lisa Congdon

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

(applause) Hello. And welcome to Workflow, Time Management and Productivity for Creatives. I'm always afraid I'm gonna mess up the order of those things, not that it really matters. I'm so excited to be teaching this class because I feel like it is one of the most common points of pain for people, in general out in the world, but especially for creative people. This idea, this sort of challenge of staying organized. People often ask me, "How do you manage to do "so many projects and work on so many things at one time?" And what I always say is number one, I don't have children, number two, I have a system for organizing my projects and a way to keep track of everything I'm doing that allows me to be really productive so that's what I'm going to teach you today. Essentially, my system. However, what I'm gonna say now and what I'm probably gonna say over and over and over in this class is that if you think of things that you would do differently inside this system that I'm teaching you...

, I say make those changes for you because the idea here isn't to do what I do, necessarily, but to develop a system of organization and time management and productivity that works for you and we're all really different so we'll talk about that today so if any of your questions are like, "Would it make sense to change," whatever it is I'm showing you, "in a certain way?" My answer is probably gonna be, "Yes." But feel free to ask anyway and I can talk to you about the pros and cons of approaching organization in a certain way. So. What if you could work in a way where you felt on top of your assignments and tasks, right? What if you could wake up every morning knowing exactly what you needed to tackle that day and had a plan for getting that day's work done? Every morning wake up, I got this. What if you entered your day with a sense of ease and control? What if you could develop a system for yourself in which you were focused and organized and completed assignments on time even when you had several projects on your plate? What if you could be productive and actually get stuff done? That would be awesome, right? And I'm assuming that you're all here and those of you out in internet land are listening because this is something you struggle with and let's face it, we all struggle with it and that's why having systems is important. This is possible. Believe it or not, you have it in you. And if all of these ideas sound compelling to you, you're in the right class. So. Even if you're sure this could never be you, it can be. Here's the thing. We're all different. Not everybody works in the same way. Some people enjoy organization, their brains are wired for it and it's also a true fact that most people need to work at organization and productivity intentionally, even those of us who are more wired for it. So you might look at people who are super organized and say they were born that way but most of them actually had to come up with systems or they had a really good teacher at one point who, like, taught them those things or a boss or a mentor and that's actually part of how I developed my systems was before I became an artist, I worked in the nonprofit world and I was a project manager and I don't consider myself a naturally organized person, I was that kid who had to be reminded every single day to clean her room and I was a little bit messy. I'm definitely right brained and naturally sort of creative and want to spend my time doing those kinds of things but I've also learned that being organized actually helps me to feel more creative because I can spend more of my energy and focus on creativity and innovation and less on trying to manage what I'm doing. What works for one person's productivity doesn't work for another so, again, I'm going to be telling you about systems that work for me and I think could work for a lot of people but if there are ways that you think changing them for your own needs is important, then I say go ahead and do that. You don't need anybody's permission to do that. The system is, or the idea is, to develop a system that works for you, that plays on your strengths and minimizes the stuff that distracts or weakens you. Okay. It is a myth that creative people thrive in chaos. How many people have heard that? My mom, who I'm probably never gonna listen to this, so I'm just gonna go ahead and say it, she's also an artist, she's always posting these links to articles on Facebook about how, like, creative people thrive in messiness and, like, ya know, that creative people actually do better work if they're working inside of a mess. Because her studio is a disaster and I think that's just, like, she has to own it but I'm like, "Mom, you have no idea how much more you could actually "get done if you weren't so overwhelmed by your mess." Developing structure will actually help you to thrive. So the idea here isn't to oppress ourselves with systems, I think systems often or organized people get a sort of bad rap for being really dogmatic and strict but the idea isn't actually to oppress yourself with a system for organization or organizing your time. The idea is actually to create a structure in which you can thrive and become more creative because you're less overwhelmed. My anxiety, my sense of overwhelm is always in direct relationship to what I feel I have control over or don't have control over. So if I'm really stressed out, going to bed at night, it's usually because I don't know what I'm supposed to do the next day, I don't know how long it's gonna take me, I'm not sure if I'm gonna finish the thing or the several things and I haven't made a plan but the minute I sit down and make a plan, I instantly can sleep better. There's this book that came out, probably in the early 2000s, called Getting Things Done. The guy who wrote the book has many people who follow his, what he espouses and I'm not gonna go into detail about it but his whole premise is getting things out of your head and written down will relieve so much stress, like that is the first step, and that is definitely a principle of what I'm gonna be talking about today. It's also a myth that creative people are inherently disorganized and have an irreversibly poor time management and focus. It is true that many creative people, many people in general have poor time management and focus but it is a myth that that is irreversible so let's talk for a second about some of the other myths about creative people and maybe they're myths that you think about or things that you think about yourself or that people have told you so what else do we generally hear that creative people are or do or lack? Microphone. Late night working, that we have to be night owls and work all night long or that's when our best ideas come to our heads. Yep, that we are night owls, that we only work at night, right? That's a very common stereotype. What other stereotypes are there? There are more. So many. Yeah. Here's a mic. Don't be shy. That creative people are bad at deadlines. Bad at deadlines, we can't meet a deadline. Because what are we doing? We're procrastinating. Ya know, we can't get anything done, right? Yeah. That we don't know how to make money, that we don't know how to charge what we're worth. Yep, we don't know how to charge money, we don't know how to charge what we're worth, we don't value our own talent, we're not good communicators, we don't respond to email quickly, we don't know how to manage our time, okay. These are all stereotypes of creative people. We're a hot mess basically. Anyone can learn to apply structure and organization to their life if they desire to have it. And it's also true that, like, while a lot of those stereotypes are real for a lot of people, not just creative people, it's also true that you can learn different behaviors and work inside of systems that help you become more organized. I also believe it's true that so many creative people are highly organized, highly productive, meet deadlines, go to bed on time, ya know, all of those things so I'm really all about dispelling those stereotypes. Here's why thinking about working differently is important for creatives. So, we're often doing projects, like, so how many of you are freelance or have a part-time job but also work freelance on the side? Okay, so most of you and even if you're a creative person working inside of a company, regardless, you are managing lots of projects at once. Ultimately, your goal as a freelance artist is to have enough projects to make a living, correct? And to do that, you're gonna have to juggle a lot of things because oftentimes, projects for creatives don't pay that well so you gotta do like 10 or of them at once. I'm exaggerating but, so, we're doing a big design or illustration assignment from clients. Sometimes many at once. We're designing or illustrating an entire book or web project, something that's gonna take us, like, six months. And if you're not doing that yet, you might do that someday so the organizational skills I'm gonna teach you are gonna be super important. We're planning and executing the launch of a project, maybe a website, an online shop, a personal project online. We're fielding requests from potential clients. We're preparing for an exhibition or an art fair. We're working doggedly on promoting our work and business. And we're doing all of these things plus a million other things by ourselves, right? And so we don't have anyone often until we're sort of further on in our career who's helping us keep organized or stay organized. So there's a lot that we bear, a lot that we hold every single day. So, neuroscientists refer to our ability to hold stuff in our working memory as our cognitive load and your cognitive load is your ability to hold stuff in your working memory so think about that for a moment. When we are overwhelmed with stuff in our heads, our productivity weakens. How many of you have experienced this? You're overwhelmed, you're less productive, you're more stressed out, you miss, you actually miss deadlines, you don't sleep as well and the cycle repeats itself over and over. And it's all about systems and developing systems. Breaking down big things into smaller parts. Okay, so if you get a big project, figuring out what do I need to do first, what do I need to do next, what do I need to do next and how can I time all of those things so that I get the project done? Instead of being like I have a giant project, I don't even know where to begin. Recording details somewhere. So that you don't forget them. Managing moving parts. Adjusting to accommodate changes. This is really important and I'm gonna talk about this a lot. Every one of the systems I'm gonna teach you today, I'm gonna teach you three and they all sort of work together, are all super flexible systems. If you are trying to work in a system that doesn't feel flexible, you will abandon it, you will not use it. Our lives are completely unpredictable, things happen that we can't expect so our systems have to be flexible to accommodate those things. And we wanna ultimately complete things, we wanna get stuff done so that we can enjoy our lives outside of work. The idea is to get the stuff you're responsible for out of your head and into an organized system. Use that system to help you decide what to work on each day. Work on only a manageable number of tasks each day in discrete chunks of uninterrupted time, that's called time blocking and I'm gonna talk about that and how useful it's been for me. You're going to finish big projects quickly and efficiently because you are more organized and focused. So, this is sort of the three tiered system I'm going to teach you today. So, workflow, which is sort of where you capture the details about everything you're responsible for at any given time. Having a workflow document changed my life. A place to capture everything that I was responsible for. You can even include stuff from your sort of non-work life in your workflow if that's helpful to you. It takes discipline to take the time to enter the stuff into the spreadsheet but having it is important. Then we're going to take every, or specific things from our workflow and put them in our rolling to do list. So we're going from everything to today and this week to time blocking, which is, what am I gonna do this hour? Right, so you're taking the big, breaking it down into smaller chunks and then into even smaller chunks. And I'm gonna refer back to this graphic several times during the class. So again, everything to this week or today to this hour.

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Ratings and Reviews

Tessa Crowther

Overall, I'm super happy I took the course! As an entrepreneur, artist, and tiny business owner, it's nice to hear perspective from people who have gone through and are going through similar things. Be prepared for some slides to be read word for word (not my favorite thing), and for some thoughts to be a bit scattered and unorganized. However, I got some good information and will implement some of her ideas in my own time management. I paid for the class as a single class, so I'm not sure I'd recommend paying that full single price, but I would definitely recommend the class if you have a class pass! Overall, I would recommend, thanks Lisa!

a Creativelive Student

Thanks Lisa! Wow. I found this class very inspiring and exciting. Besides the logging and planning parts that really amuse me in general, I found the idea of setting boundaries and working while keeping distractions in check quite revolutionary. I can see how working focused on x thing for a period of time over several days can work wonders in completing projects. Super recommended.


I just love love love this system(s) AND the fact that Lisa explains them so clearly -and leaves the space to each of her students to "be creative" and adapt the system to your own way of working too. I found this course right on time in my life where i needed to clean out things, become more efficient and calmer too. I think Lisa's systems are indeed a perfect way to calm down any anxieties caused by too much / too few work, overwhelm and such... THANK YOU Lisa, merci beaucoup !

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