Nearly all of the professional content creators I speak with tend to point out that their main obstacle to growth is time. Content creation alone is a full-time job, and as part of the creation process, there’s research, scriptwriting, shooting, editing and creating thumbnails. Then you have everything else around growing your channel from uploading, managing partnerships, marketing your channel through social, organising collabs and setting up affiliates.

The logical solution would be to start working with a team so that you can delegate, but depending on what stage in your career you’re at, that’s not always possible. So here we’ve collected some best practices from our content creator community to help you manage your time better and grow your channel more efficiently.

The double Ps (Plan & Prep)

It sounds quite obvious that you need to plan and prep your work ahead of time, but how often does your planning go out the window? What we mean by planning here is to create a regular schedule around your life. Just like whipping up a fantastic dish in the kitchen, you can break up your tasks and prepare them ahead of time - plan the timing of your recipe and chop up two onions and a carrot by Monday night so that you can start your Bolognaise on Tuesday morning.

Say as part of your plan you publish a new video every Thursday. Then plan your tasks to be done for that week on a Sunday. Schedule the tasks that need to be done on Monday, so you’re ready for shooting on Tuesday and dedicate Wednesday to editing. This is where something as simple as Google Calendar becomes a must to plan your hours in the day. Come Thursday; you can touch up your thumbnails, upload and go back to the drawing board to start your next piece. Leave Friday for research and drafting the next script, Saturday to finalise the script and Sunday do your admin and take a break.

Apart from managing your hours, when it comes to planning a project using a Gantt chart or just good old pen and paper can also be a massive help. As some activities take longer to finish, you should start them earlier and then take on smaller tasks in parallel, so they finish at the same time before you move on to another bunch of related activities.

How To Create Gantt Chart Online - What is a Gantt Chart
How To Create Gantt Chart Online - What is a Gantt Chart via StudioBinder

Coordinate your multitasking

Undoubtedly you’re going to end up working on multiple projects at the same time, and you’re probably already pretty good at multitasking. However, be careful of not multitasking too much as it is proven to kill productivity.

This MIT study shows that “working on more projects in one time period at first increased productivity, as measured by revenue generation. But as the level of multitasking increased, the marginal benefits of additional multitasking declined — and, at a certain point, taking on still more tasks made workers less productive, rather than more so.”

The researchers compared this insight to traffic jams “where projects get backed up behind other projects much the way cars get stuck in traffic when there are too many on a highway at once.”

To avoid the traffic jam problem, you could:

  1. Schedule around your productive hours: If you know you’re most productive from 9-12, don’t schedule meetings during that time. Find your optimal routine and base tasks relating to your energy levels during those hours of the day.
  2. Bundle your tasks, so that you’re working on similar activities back to back, rather than jumping from one track to another. Using project management tools like Trello can really help with this and also give you an overview of all your jobs that need to be done before you can move to the next phase.
  3. Time blocking is a method that takes your to-do lists to the next level. Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, swear by blocking out time in a daily calendar so that every minute is accounted for.

“Sometimes people ask why I bother with such a detailed level of planning. My answer is simple: it generates a massive amount of productivity. A 40-hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.”

Cal Newport - Author

Time Blocked Calendar
What a fully time blocked calendar might look like. Via Bradfrost.com

Mastering the art of prioritisation

If like me, planning every minute of your day is not a realistic option, you should look at mastering the art of prioritisation. You can do this for weekly or daily tasks. I tend to do it for both timeframes.

This simple framework published by Harvard Business Review lets you map out tasks into four buckets and then tackle them according to priority.

simple framework

This framework is taking into account these two thoughts:

  • Contribution. How am I aligning my greatest strengths, experience, and capabilities to what my work needs?
  • Passion. What fuels me, inspires me, and motivates me? What opportunities inspire me to do my best?

Bearing these two elements in mind, then we can go through each section:

Quadrant I: Prioritise the tasks that hit this sweet-spot intersection of bringing your highest value-add and making an impact that you feel excited about. Keep in mind the two questions shown above and see which tasks you can add to your high contribution and high passion lists. You can do these tasks during most productive hours to get maximum output.

Quadrant II: Tolerate the tasks that need to get done but drain your energy when you’re doing them. Try and reframe these tasks in your mind so they become more tolerable. Tolerate and accept that you aren’t going to love every part of the job. Tolerate the fact that you may be on a learning curve. Maybe these are activities which you haven’t quite mastered yet. Consider getting these tasks out the way with as soon as possible during your day.

Quadrant III: Elevate tasks that give you a lot of energy but don’t necessarily move the needle on your content or channel growth as much. This is a great area to plan some new techniques or experiments you want to run. Make sure not to plan these during most productive hours, as you’re going to get positive energy from the task anyway, so you can play at it during a time that you’re usually running low.

Quadrant IV: Delegate daily, low-value tasks where possible. If there’s no one to delegate to, then plan these tasks for your low energy period and consider using tools or available services to help you automate and optimise the output.

How do you make the most of your time? If you have some tips for other creators, share it with us on Twitter @papercupai