Procrastination, lack of focus, distractions, too much sleep… They’re not friends of a creative person, but each of us is facing them from time to time. They make you less productive and efficient, but there are ways to beat them and raise productivity. Jakob Owens of TheBuffNerds shares seven simple, but effective tips for all you filmmakers out there to help you become more productive and get to work. And although Jakob places a focus on filmmaking, photographers will find these tips useful, too.
1. Wake up an hour earlier than usual
I know, I know, even five extra five minutes of sleep are so important in the morning if you’re not a morning person. I know I’m not. However, if you want to get more stuff done, you need to sacrifice some of that precious sleep. Jakob sees it this way: waking up an hour earlier each day gives you seven extra hours a week, and 365 extra hours a year. You can do a lot with that time, so train yourself to wake up at least an hour earlier than usual, and make a good use out of that time.
2. Create a to-do list
Some of my friends and colleagues call me “the queen of lists.” I sometimes even make a list of the lists I need to make. I don’t know if Jakob is that devoted to to-do lists, but he certainly recommends them as one of the methods to keep you on track and help you organize.
Jakob likes having a to-do list on his computer, so it’s always in front of him. It’s easy to add stuff to it and erase the stuff you’ve done. Personally, I prefer the good ol’ pen and paper, because nothing beats the feeling of crossing out the things you’re done with. If you start making to-do lists, make sure to arrange the tasks from most important to least important ones, and do them in that order.
3. Turn the distractions off
Instagram is fun, so is Facebook, and so are plenty of other apps we use on a daily basis. But they are horrible for your productivity, especially if push notifications make you check your phone all the time. So, while you’re editing a project, leave the phone far from you. Turn the notifications off, or better yet, put the phone on flight mode. This will make your workflow faster and help you maintain focus.
4. Tackle tasks one at a time
I used to believe in multitasking, until I read some research saying that it’s actually a myth. We’re not capable of doing more things at once – we just shift from one task to another really quickly. When I paid attention to my own habits – I noticed that “multitasking” actually made me less efficient and feel overwhelmed and tired. So, when you make that to-do list, don’t try to complete multiple things at once. Instead, focus on one task, get it done, and then move on to the next. This approach will make you far more efficient.
5. Take a small break to re-energize
It may seem that you’ll do much more work if you spend an entire day working on a project. However, after a while you may feel anxious, tired and lose focus. Allow yourself some time to re-energize. Short breaks aren’t a waste of time – they will help you renew your energy and retrieve focus, so you can be productive and efficient again.
During these breaks, you can do whatever you like. Jakob suggests taking a nap, a workout, stretching or taking a short walk. I found out that workout works the best for me. Find what relaxes and re-energizes you, and allow yourself some time to do these things even if you’re in the middle of a project.
6. Use a calendar with reminders
This is something like a to-do list, only on a larger scale. And yes, just like Jakob, I do this as well. Jakob suggests that you use a calendar and add sticky notes to it with important events and projects you will have this month. This will you prepare for the projects on time, but also make sure that you don’t forget about the important events. Personally, I create these reminders on a weekly rather than monthly basis, but you find what works best for you.
Other than using a calendar and sticky notes, you can also rely on Siri or Google Assistant. I use Google Calendar to add reminders, but also write them on a large piece of paper, with the schedule for each day of the week. In my world, you can never be too sure.
7. Always complete the biggest task first
I know those big tasks seem intimidating and you’d rather do a few smaller ones first to cross them out of your to-do list. However, by the time you finish the smaller tasks, you may feel too tired or have too little time to finish the big one. So, complete the biggest task first, while your energy and focus are at its peak. Then move on to the smaller tasks. After the biggest and the most important one, they’ll seem easy and you’ll complete them in no time.
These are some of the tips Jakob finds useful for increasing creativity as a filmmaker. If you shoot and edit a lot of photos, you’ll find them useful, too. I use them as a writer on my daily job here at DIYP, but also when I try to organize some other projects and even daily chores. And these tips work for me as well.
Do you rely on these techniques when you increase productivity? And if you have some of your own tricks to share – feel free to leave them in the comment section below.