10 Time Management Tips for New Media Artists

What up rockstars.

My buddy Benny asked me to write a quick post for NewMediaRockstars about how youtubers and bloggers and anyone else in new media can leverage their time and productivity more. One of my passions is peak human performance, so I spend a lot of my time experimenting with time management strategies and techniques.

Benny said that you guys like things straight up, so this is the best of the best – the top 20% that delivers 80% of your results.

1. Use a Calendar

This is super simple but so many people don’t do it.

Use your calendar on your computer. This means iCal for Mac, or Outlook for Windows.

Make sure you actually write down your appointments in your calendar and set reminders for them. Make sure that you book in travel time if you need to get across town to a studio, to make sure that you’re never late for anything.

And while you’re at it, sync your calendar to your iPhone or Android phone.

2. Track Your Tasks

First up, head over to Evernote.com and get it for your Mac/PC and all your mobile devices. It’s free, so there’s no excuse not to use it.

Next, create a notebook called “Inbox”. This is where every idea you have is going to go. If it’s 3am and you’re eating pho after a night out and you get a brilliant idea for a video, it goes in here. If you suddenly remember something important to do, it goes in here. Any idea that you can capture in text, audio or video (digitally), you should put in your Evernote Inbox.

Now to get organized. Each part of your life should have a notebook where you write down information about it. For example, you can make an Evernote notebook for each of your projects or shows, and file ideas in there. You can also make one called “Finances”, and go paperless and scan in all your receipts and invoices to mail to your CPA at the end of the year.

The next thing is your tasks. I really believe in simple task management. Make a new notebook in Evernote called “Tasks”. Every day you’re going to add a new note to this note book, where you list your 3 things that you’re going to do each day. Under those three things, you’re going to list other things that you need to do, but don’t need to do today.

Here’s an example:

  1. Go over new website and make sure all links and menus work.
  2. Write article for New Media Rockstars.
  3. Write this month’s newsletter for Asian Efficiency.
  • Reboot web server.
  • Fold up t-shirts.
  • Message Benny back on Facebook.

That’s my page for today.

Tomorrow, I’ll remove anything that I completed today, keep anything that I didn’t do, and pick new things until I have 3 tasks for the day. These can be from the list of other things, or can be tasks that crop up because of certain appointments or because they just need to be done.

3. Buy a Box

Head over to an office supply store and buy a plastic crate. Or go find a cardboard box you can use.

You need one of these. The box, not the cat.

From now on, this is where all your mail, papers and things that you “need to look at later” are going to go.

Once a week, clear out the box. Go through every single piece and either scan it (for storage), shred it (useless stuff), set it as a task for later, or handle it then and there.

4. Find Your Flow

If you haven’t done #2 yet, go do that first. This depends on that.

Here’s how you get in flow.

Start your day writing down the 3 things you are going to do. Then, pick the most important one and do that first – don’t get distracted. Then, do the second one. Then, do the third one. And if you’ve still got time leftover, start look at the “other things” you’ve got listed below.

As a general rule, all tasks can be divided into one of four categories (courtesy of Stephen Covey):

How to tell what’s important.

Anything that’s important and urgent, you do first. Anything that’s important and non-urgent is what you really want to get to. Anything that’s unimportant (urgent or non-urgent), you want to try to avoid – do them if they’re urgent, but know that they’re wasting your time.

For new media rockstars, you’re going to get the most out of producing high quality content, whether that’s videos, interviews or articles.

5. Eat Tomatoes

Eat Tomatoes
In Italian, the word “pomodoro” means tomato.

In the productivity world, pomodoros are the secret weapon that help you get things done.

Pomodoros mean that you work in a rhythm. You work hard for 25 minutes, then take a break for 5. Or you work hard for 50 minutes, then take a break for 10. It’s that simple.

6. Recruit Your People


Where you shouldn

Don’t be afraid to outsource small things that bug you. Like taxes. Or balancing spreadsheets. Or any technical whizzbang coding that looks like Ancient Greek.

The number one resource for small tasks is Fiverr. Don’t underestimate what people are willing to do for $5.

You can also think outside the box here. What are some things that you do regularly that are really taking your time away from producing (or editing) video and high quality content?

One thing that comes to mind is laundry. If you have a younger brother or sister, why not pay them to sit and watch your laundry for you, so you have an extra 2 hours on the weekend to shoot that video you’ve been putting off?

7. Own Your Space

Asian Efficient Isolation Earphones
A lot of rockstars work from home, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Just make sure you have a separate work area, even if it’s your kitchen table. Try your best not to work in your bedroom – you want to split up where you rest (and recreate) and where you get stuff done.

If you have roommates, learn to master the art of no distractions. The best time to get work done is when others are asleep, and when you can’t be interrupted. Turn off your IM, email and phone, and put in some isolation earphones… and watch your productivity explode.

8. The Approach

The Approach

This would be Approach #1.

There are actually two approaches.

1. If you’re a manic workaholic like me, you pretty much work whenever you want. You know when you’re inspired, and when you’ll get a lot done. Even if it’s 3am after a big night out, if you’re driven to produce – go for it.

2. If you have a hard time being disciplined, you need to set work hours. I recommend work hours when other people are asleep, or busy doing other things. Like 5am-8am. Or 10pm+.

9. Zone Out

Zone Out on PS3
As cool as it would be to work all the time, you need to take breaks.

Now that you’ve got that nifty calendar setup, why not go in and book out some personal R&R – say 6 hours on the weekend where you get to zone out in front of the TV or Playstation.

And don’t forget to use Pomodoros.

10. Kick Ass and Take Names

NYC Skyline
Inspiration is everything. When you’re inspired, nothing on Earth can stop you, and you’ll get crazy amounts of work done in very little time. What takes others 6 hours, will take you 2. People around you will start to ask you what vitamins you’re on.

It’s cliche, but if you really do what you love and enjoy, you will kick ass and take names.

Wrapping Up

To wrap it up, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Use a Calendar.
  2. Track Your Tasks.
  3. Buy a Box.
  4. Find Your Flow.
  5. Eat Tomatoes.
  6. Recruit Your People.
  7. Own Your Space.
  8. The Approach. Times 2.
  9. Zone Out.
  10. Kick Ass and Take Names.
  11. Read Asian Efficiency and New Media Rockstars.

+Aaron Lynn is a blogger and efficiency aficionado. He writes about time management and personal productivity over at Asian Efficiency.

Photo by: comedy_nose, m0nkeyb@lls, LittleMissPip. epSos.de, Robert S. Donovan, JD Hancock, Angelo González

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