I’ve consistently created on Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube for 8 weeks…
Which is a HUGE milestone for me!
Here’s how I did it despite working full-time at a restaurant.
Disclaimer: I’m not married. I don’t have children. And I don’t have pets.
1 – Figure out your non-negotiables.
It’s easy to get caught up in easy, shallow work like:
Responding to Slack messages
Taking a break to scroll through social media
But the thing is… these tasks don’t lead to any productive outputs.
This is why you have to identify your non-negotiables.
Non-negotiables are tasks you must do to move the needle forward in your personal and professional life.
My non-negotiables for my personal life are:
Morning and evening journaling
Reading 10 pages of a non-fiction book
Going to the gym
Going for a walk
My non-negotiable for my professional life is to follow my content creation schedule.
First, I set a goal to create:
1 Medium article
3 LinkedIn posts
1 YouTube video
Per week. Plus client work.
Then, I organized my week like this:
Monday – Research all the written content.
Tuesday – Write the first draft of all the written content.
Wednesday – Edit all the written content.
Thursday – Film the YouTube video using my Medium article as a script.
Friday + Saturday – Edit the YouTube video. Schedule the content using Publer.
With these two lists, I know exactly what I must do daily to make progress.
2 – Block out your non-negotiables on Google Calendar.
After you figure out your non-negotiables, block out the time to do it on your Google Calendar.
Here’s an example of mine.
This serves three purposes.
First, you’re more likely to do it when you know what and when you have to do something.
Second, you don’t waste your brain power to think about what you have to do. Or when you have to do it. This frees up your brain for more important tasks.
Third, if you do something at the same time and space every day, it becomes easier and more natural for you to do.
3 – Capitalize on your peak hours.
I have my deep work sessions in the morning because:
First, I feel the most alert and have the most energy at this time.
Second, I feel better when I finish my MITs first thing in the morning. I’ve noticed if I do them later in the day, I spend most of the day feeling stressed and anxious. And sometimes, I don’t get around to doing any deep work because I get too lazy, tired, and distracted.
So, I prefer to work in the morning for these two reasons.
And luckily, I’ve been “leveraging my natural biology toward the best type of work for the biological state I’m in.”
Because according to Andrew Huberman, you should spend:
The first part of your day (~0-8 hours after waking) doing work you find challenging.
The second part of your day (~9-16 hours after waking) brainstorming and doing creative work.
The third part of your day (~17-24 hours after waking) sleeping or trying to sleep.
Now, with this being said, you do not have to:
Do deep work in the morning
Or follow Andrew Huberman’s research advice
Because everyone has different schedules, priorities, and obligations.
Maybe, you have kids. So, it’s better for you to do deep work at night after they’ve gone to sleep.
Maybe, you work night shifts. So, it’s better for you to do deep work in the afternoons.
Maybe, you’re a night owl. So, you feel the most creative at night.
So, my point is…
Read productivity techniques. Experiment. But most importantly, find a deep work schedule that works best for you. And one you can sustain for a long period of time.
4 – Use the Pomodoro technique.
“Three to four hours a day, five days a week, of uninterrupted and carefully directed concentration, it turns out, can produce a lot of valuable output.” – Cal Newport
During an 8-hour workday, the average worker spends 4 hours and 12 minutes actively working.
The other time is spent:
Using social media
Surfing the internet
Socializing with coworkers
Taking bathroom, smoke, and snack breaks
Don’t believe me? Try tracking your active work hours.
You’ll be amazed by how much time you actually spend doing work-related activities. And on the reverse, how much time you waste.
I recommend the Pomodoro technique if you want to stay focused and undistracted.
Here’s how I use it.
I use the Focus To-Do Google Chrome extension as my Pomodoro tracker.
My Pomodoro length (my deep work sessions) is 45 minutes followed by a 5-minute break.
Before I hit the timer button, I make sure I have everything I need. Water, coffee, laptop charger, pens, paper, etc.
Then, I’ll put my phone on airplane mode. Or sometimes, I’ll put it in another room.
Next, I’ll go to the bathroom, so I don’t have a reason to get up once I start logging my time.
After I hit the timer button, I immediately start to work on my task.
And during this 45-minute block:
I don’t use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
I don’t check my emails.
I don’t respond to messages on Slack.
I only work on my designated task.
Then, once the timer goes off, I get up to stretch, go to the bathroom, and walk for a bit.
I’ll repeat this about 4 times in a day. This averages approximately 3 hours of deep work daily.
Now, here’s what I suggest if you’re new to the Pomodoro technique.
Download a Pomodoro tracker. I use Focus To-Do. I do not recommend using your phone as a timer unless your notifications are turned off or it’s on airplane mode.
Set your Pomodoro timer to 25 minutes for deep work, followed by a 5-minute break.
Choose a task to work on.
Prepare everything you need (water, coffee, tea, charger, etc.)
Then, sit down and get to work.
Aim for 4 blocks of 25 minutes of deep work.
Give it a try. And see how much work you get done in the process!
5 – Eliminate distractions.
When I work, I:
Sit by myself in a room with the doors closed
Do not listen to any background noise or music
Do not use my phone or browse the Internet
Do not talk to anyone
Why do I do this? To eliminate distractions as much as possible.
Because it’s hard to focus and get any quality work done if you’re distracted by notifications, messages, or emails.
For example, let’s say you’re writing an article. But then, your phone goes ‘ding’. And you reach for it to see you got a text from your friend. So, you respond. And then, you go back to writing.
Now, here’s the thing…
When you go back to writing, your mind will still be thinking about the text from your friend. And it’ll take up to 20 minutes for you to regain momentum on your article.
Why? Because when you switch between tasks, a bit of your attention gets stuck on the prior task. This is called attention residue.
So, to be truly productive and create quality work, you need to:
Log out of all communication tools
Eliminate all other distractions
And work for long periods of time every day
6 – Batch related tasks.
You’re killing your productivity every time you jump back and forth between tasks. This is because context switching (switching between tasks) takes time and mental effort.
If you’d like to avoid context switching, I recommend you batch related tasks. So, group similar tasks together to complete them all at once.
Here’s how I apply the batching technique in my life.
First, I batch my work tasks. For example, my content creation schedule is organized like this:
On Monday, I research all the written content.
On Tuesday, I write the first draft of all the written content.
On Wednesday, I edit all the written content.
On Thursday, I film the YouTube video using my Medium article as a script.
On Friday and Saturday, I edit the YouTube video. And schedule my content using Publer.
With this schedule, I focus all my creative efforts on the same type of task instead of jumping from one to another.
Second, I batch cook. Whenever I cook, I make sure to make a lot of food. Enough to last for 3-4 days. This saves me loads of time because:
I don’t need to cook every meal.
I don’t have to waste time deciding what to eat.
Third, I batch my errands together. For example, last Monday, I:
Bought a bus pass
Met my accountant
Went to the bank
Bought sunscreen, highlighters, and groceries
Checked the mailbox
In one single outing.
Imagine if I separated those tasks throughout the week. How much time would I have wasted on commuting?
So, I recommend you choose one day of the week to run all of your errands instead of scattering them throughout the week.
7 – Say no more often.
Look, your time and energy are finite.
And with so many things, situations, and people vying for your attention, it’s up to you to discern what to say yes or no to.
Because remember, every time you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else.
If you say yes to partying on Friday, you’re saying no to waking up early and being productive on Saturday.
If you say yes to Netflix binges every weekday, you’re saying no to building your side hustle.
If you say yes to spending time with people who sap your energy, you’re saying no to time spent with people who energize you.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
I don’t believe you need to be productive and do meaningful work all the time.
Because on the flip side, you only have one life to live. And life is meant to be lived.
So, I think rest and play are equally important as working towards your goals.
But what I am saying is…
Be mindful of how much time you’re spending on the habits, situations, and people that are taking you further away from your goals.
And say no to them more often if you’re spending too much time on them.
Wrapping Things Up
Here are my 7 time management tips to help you consistently create content while working full-time:
Figure out your non-negotiables.
Block out your non-negotiables on Google Calendar.
Capitalize on your peak hours.
Use the Pomodoro technique.
Batch related tasks.
Say no more often.