You know all about setting goals, right?
You’ve got a rock solid list of what you wanna accomplish in both your personal and professional life.
But with everything going on daily, how to you carve out time to get it all done?
Which is an 3-day virtual event to learn how to get back an hour or more per day (consistently!) by making small tweaks to your existing routines.
The truth is, entrepreneurs and those of us in creative professions (or who are even just creative thinkers) often struggle with traditional time management techniques.
Our brains literally work differently – and the nature of our work can make it hard to follow the prescribed time blocking techniques.
So we’re gonna explore a 4-step process that can help creative thinkers and professionals achieve goals wayyyyy faster.
Because it’s aligned with how right-brained people function.
4 Easy Steps to Help Creative Thinkers Achieve Goals Faster
1. Break your goals into action steps.
The first part of the process is pretty simple – and is recommended for both left-brained and right-brained peeps.
Take your big goals and break them down into action steps.
A plan of how you’re gonna get from where you are now to where you wanna go. Rather than just hoping things will just happen.
You also get to decide when these action steps get done.
For example, which ones can be done in 30 days? And which ones have dependencies that can only be worked on when a task before it gets completed?
A simple example is, let’s say your goal is to buy a house.
And you want to save $10,000 this year as a tactic to do so.
Well, you would then take that $10,000 milestone and break it down into actions of how you can do that. As well as when you’ll do it.
So you aim to save $1,000 per month.
And you come up with a list ways you can do that to both earn more money and cut back on expenses, including:
- Getting 2 new customers a month.
- Cutting back on takeout to once a week.
- Canceling your Kindle Unlimited and borrowing books from the library instead (yes, you can have them delivered to your Kindle if you’re a digital reader!)
- Looking through your monthly recurring charges and canceling subscriptions you aren’t getting value out of – like your dusty unused gym membership, that magazine subscription that brought you that massive pile of unread issues, or streaming services where you only watch 1-2 shows.
- Making a grocery list – and checking your pantry before you head out the door. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought something I already had in the house because I didn’t check!)
And you vow to be mindful of where your money goes – because most of us spend money without really paying attention to where it goes.
(Although I know where mine goes…)
Once you have your goal-crushing plan, it’s time to schedule the action steps.
2. Use a “Makers” schedule.
Here’s where many creatives struggle.
Because pretty much everywhere you look, it’s recommended to use a time blocking using what’s known as a “Manager’s schedule”.
That’s where you have meetings and tasks sprinkled throughout the day and you have focus time in between.
If you’ve worked a traditional or corporate job, this is the style of scheduling you’re likely most familiar with.
Or if you work with others who have these kinds of office jobs.
But this method doesn’t really work for creatives. Because we’re trying to do “deep work” into tiny slots of time that are really better suited for “shallow work”.
Deep Work vs Shallow Work
“Shallow work” consists of tactical/admin things like meetings, responding to emails, taking phone calls, or going to appointments. Stuff that doesn’t require a lot of cognitive effort – and is often distracting or disruptive to your creative process.
As free thinkers, we need big chunks of time of “deep work”.
Deep work requires cognitive effort. AKA: your concentration and focus.
To create. To ideate. To produce.
Which means for most creatives, you need more time to slip into that zone – and then ride that way to super-productivity.
With bigger blocks of time for deep work you can tap into your flow state more consistently.
Which is super hard to do when you’ve got 60 minutes in between a call and yet another meeting.
This is where you ditch the 2-hour time block approach and give yourself mega-blocks of time for specific kinds of deep work tasks.
I do this weekly. I call mine “focus time” and it’s 2-4 hour blocks… and I have them 2-3 times a week on my calendar.
And to help balance the admin/office portion of your job with your need for creative space, you can design your schedule in a way that works best for you.
For example, you can decide that you won’t take meetings or calls before 1pm each day. Because your mornings are when you feel the most productive. And you want to use that time to focus on deep work.
So your time block would look like 8am–1pm: Create content.
And you’d do your office-type shallow work later in the afternoon or evening.
For me, I won’t take calls before 10 or 11am. The only exception to this is when I have a meeting with my team when I can be in strategy mode.
It’s your biz… and your time… design it in a way that’s ideal for you!
So look at your lifestyle – and how you know you work best – and start plotting time blocks into your calendar using the deep work or shallow work approach.
3. Drop your action steps into your time blocks.
Once you have your Deep Work blocks and Shallow Work blocks on your calendar, then it’s time to drop your action steps/to-dos into their respective blocks.
To keep going with our example of saving for a house, you’d pull out those list of tactics (i.e. the ones that will help you reach your milestone of saving $1,000 per month) and plug them into the right blocks.
Like, you’d drop your shallow work to-dos into one of your Shallow Work blocks. To-dos such as:
- Reviewing your bank statements for the subscriptions you want to cancel.
- Cancelling those subscriptions.
- Cancelling your Kindle Unlimited.
- Signing up for a library account.
- Connecting your Kindle account to your library account.
- Downloading the Libby app to your phone (which most libraries use for checking out and delivering digital and audiobooks).
Similar to traditional time blocking techniques, you can have a mix of one-time tasks and recurring tasks.
Errands are a good example of a recurring shallow work task.
So if one of your steps to save money is to use a grocery list and ensure you aren’t buying stuff you already have in the house, you’d plug that action step into a Shallow Work block in a spot before your Errands block. And this process would be something you’d do weekly, most likely.
So this covers your cost-cutting portion of your goal plan… what about the revenue-generating part?
That likely requires some thought and creativity, right?
So you’d work on tasks associated with coming up with how you're gonna get 2 new customers or clients a month into your Deep Work block.
That gives you big swaths of time to ideate on just how to approach that goal. Plus time to actually create, design, or produce anything using your right-brain functions.
If the gameplan entails tasks that don’t require your brain too much (like making phone calls, booking appointments, or signing up for networking events), then where do those go?
That’s right… into your Shallow Work blocks.
The goal is to keep your Deep Work blocks associated with tasks that require concentration, production, and creativity.
And when shallow work to-dos come out of those sessions, you plug them into your next Shallow Work block.
See how this works?
4. Follow the blocks.
Now here’s where things get sticky for many creatives.
You gotta follow the blocks.
Which means ending your deep work session at the scheduled time.
And not bleeding over.
If you find that you consistently need more deep work time, extend the block. Or add more Deep Work blocks to your calendar throughout the week.
Same with shallow work. If giving yourself an hour per day to knock out emails, reply to texts, check your bank account, or pay bills isn’t cutting it – extend the block. Or add more throughout the week.
Another key to keeping your flow going all day long is not trying to knock out shallow work tasks when you come up with ideas in that deep work block.
You might think – well, it’s only gonna take me 10 minutes to do this…
But the truth is, you can actually set yourself back hours due to slipping out of your flow state.
That’s where discipline comes in.
When you start mixing shallow and deep work tasks in the same block, you actually slow your brain down.
And increase the risk of distractions creeping in. As well as the desire to multi-task – which can actually cut your productivity by 40%, according to scientific research.
So as these new to-dos come to you, either keep a running list or plug them into the next corresponding block in your calendar.
Time blocking is something that takes practice. Especially if you’re been running around willy nilly – and feeling like you’re not making a lot of progress for a lonnnnng time.
But it’s totally possible to organize your time in a wave that still feels acceptable to your creative brain. Which often doesn’t work (or make habit changes) in a linear process.
So to help you start to implement time blocking into your life, I’m inviting you to my Reclaim Your Time Challenge. Which takes place online from June 28th–June 30th.
This is a 3-day online event that will help you stop feeling constantly behind – and even help you get back an hour or more each day. For reals.
Get my secrets on how you can find time to fit in all.the.things you want to do in your days and take back your schedule.
See ya there!