Getting more done in less time – this is a concept that lives close to my heart. I work from home as a content creator for several sites besides my own. With several sites to manage and create content for, I found that I had too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Sound familiar?
I knew I only had a certain number of hours per day to dedicate to each site. I realized that I simply couldn’t work any more hours than I already did, lest I drown in my work and end up putting in 60+ hours a week. Through this realization, I concluded that I needed to be more productive to make more money because when you’re self-employed, time really is money.
Then, while listening to a podcast (Smart Passive Income), I was introduced to Mike Vardy of Productivityist.com. Mike spoke on several topics that were pure gold, but my biggest takeaway from his interview was the idea of theming my days. I’m going to share with you how I do it and discuss how it has greatly affected my life, my level of Zen, and my workflow.
Going From Non-Productive To Productive
We all have certain tasks that we do on repeat every week. As a content creator, I am constantly writing articles and blog posts, create images and infographics, making content for social media, drafting up graphic design for advertisements, shooting and editing video and motion graphics, and uploading all of that onto each site they correspond to.
Previously, I would tackle things project by project, working on that one thing from start to finish so that I could cross it off my list. That seemed to be the most productive way to do things at the time. After theming my days, I found out that was not the case.
Let’s say I was writing an article. I would outline, write, edit, put it into WordPress, edit the tags and categories, add images, preview, then publish. There are very different mindsets that go along with each of those tasks.
Here, we have a mix of right brain and left brain activities (writing = right brain, editing = left brain) and a variety of different programs used to execute each task. Hopping between Microsoft Word and Google Chrome, I lost time in ways I didn’t even know were possible. Instead of continuing in this non-productive way, I themed my days.
Themed Days are the Key to Zen Productivity
Theming your days will lead to a more productive life, which will create more Zen and peace of mind within you. You will work better, feel better, and be better. I’m going to run through my week with you, starting with Mondays.
Mondays: Writing and Planning
Mondays are my writing and planning days. On Mondays, I determine which projects are the most important by asking myself, “what is the one thing I can do right now to make everything else easier or unnecessary.” By asking myself this, I choose to work on the projects that will yield the highest return at that moment. I learned this technique from The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.
After choosing which projects to work on, I batch my tasks. Let’s say, as an example, I am writing articles. I start by outlining each article, then I switch over to writing mode. I write each article, one by one, until they are all done. By doing all similar tasks at once, I am not splitting my focus.
When you switch back and forth from tasks that require a different part of your brain to light up, it is distracting and takes time to settle into the new task. Batching the tasks so that when I am writing, I am only writing, makes the process go by quicker. I went from outlining, writing and publishing two articles in a specific time frame, to outlining and writing four articles in the same amount of time. I got more done without working more hours.
Tuesdays: Audio and Video
I have several clients I create audio and video for. I work with LA-based producer, David Yuvienco, on various projects that require me to record vocals and instrument tracks for other artists and our own endeavors. I employ the same tools mentioned in the section above to determine what I should be doing at any given time, and batch those tasks as well.
I record all vocals at once, and all other instruments that require the use of a microphone. Then I record all instruments which require midi or an audio cable. After that, I do any necessary editing, and then upload to Dropbox or email David directly. As you can see, I am working in the most efficient way possible. For Revolution Frequency, I do all my music making on this day, too, in a similar fashion.
For video, I will do all my line cuts in Adobe Premiere Pro, and when it comes time to edit audio, I open Adobe Audition. The idea here is to do everything that needs to get done in a specific program before opening the next one. Sometimes I will have Adobe Photoshop open when I am editing because I am working with images while editing the video, but that’s about as far as I stray from this framework. After that, I WeTransfer the videos over to the clients for approval.
By the way, Adobe now has a subscription plan where you can pay monthly for a single application or for the entire Adobe CC Suite. So, if you’re a creative who was previously denied access to Photoshop or another Adobe program because of price, go get your subscription for a reasonable amount!
Wednesdays: Web and Social Media
This is the last day of my work week as it pertains to clients and my own sites. On this day, I’m publishing and scheduling those articles I wrote earlier in the week and uploading the videos to YouTube. All WordPress tasks get addressed at once, and all YouTube tasks are batched together as well.
When I’m done with that, I create images for social media and publish or schedule them. I do the same for any articles or videos I have published – scheduling them to appear on social media. Any web maintenance work I need to do is done on this day as well – SEO, emailing leads, changing the design or pages on websites, etc. Again, I am doing all related tasks that use the same program or website at once so as to maximize my output and keep my focus.
Thursdays: Rest, Yoga and Deep Meditation
This is the first day of my weekend. I use it to take a break. I relax with a good book, watch a movie, or clean the house if I want to. On this day, I do my deep meditations and practice various types of yoga. I basically use the day to do whatever I want, while making sure I take care of my body, mind and spirit.
Fridays: Creative Day
I’m an artist, so this day is important to me. The second day of my weekend, I use my Fridays as a day to do some deep work on my art. I’ll draw, paint, sew, make music – whatever I want, as long as it’s creative. I might draw psychedelic ink illustrations, paint post-apocalyptic works (Beni and the Bunny) or chakra paintings, sew leather harmonica cases, or experiment with music for my audio days.
Being self-employed, I didn’t have set weekends. I tended to work seven days a week for three weeks and not realize it, burn out, and be unable to work for a week straight. Not very productive. Now, I give myself the time to be free and do what I want, just like a nine-to-fiver would on their Saturdays and Sundays.
Saturdays and Sundays: Balloon Twisting and Face Painting
Saturdays and Sundays are actually the start of my week in my mind. On the weekends, I travel to birthday parties and events to entertain children and adults with my complex balloon animals and stylistic face painting. When I’m doing this, I am only thinking about balloons and face painting. I do not bring my work week with me, knowing that all things will be taken care of Monday through Wednesday.
Since I travel all over southern California to these events, I spend a lot of time in the car. Saturdays and Sundays are therefore my learning days as well, where I’ll put on a podcast and learn something that I can put into action when Monday comes around while I’m driving. This is the only kind of multitasking I will ever do.
Some of my favorite podcasts are The Millionaire Mindcast, Smart Passive Income, Social Media Marketing, and Pro Blogger. I highly recommend that you check some of these out, as they have helped to transform my life and productivity so that I can create more and be more while still maintaining a Zen life.
Watch Your Work Life Transform
You can theme your days whether you’re a freelancer or a full-time employee. If you have a traditional job, your days might look a little different from mine. The best part of this is that there is no one-size-fits-all template for theming your days – you create your framework based on your life and your needs. It’s not “better” if you are self-employed, nor is it better if you work full time. Everyone has a different situation and can create their themed days to work with that.
Once you integrate themed days into your life, it will transform. You will get more done, in less time. You will find that your brain just feels less cluttered and more focused. You will always know what you should be doing each day, and that makes a world of difference. You will feel less chaotic, and more in tune with your Self and your needs.
Try this out and drop a comment below telling us how theming your days has changed your life, what you’re doing with your themed days and anything else you want to say! We love interacting with our readers and will reply to you personally.
If you want to learn more about using productivity to create more Zen in your life, check out some of our previous articles.
I also recommend grabbing a copy of “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. This book changed my life and continues to change it as I read it over and over.
Check out Productivityist.com. Mike Vardy has a host of valuable tools and information you can use to be more productive. He also has a podcast called Productivityist Podcast, if you prefer to consume your information through audio.