Focus to Flourish: Productivity Skills for the Creative | Bonnie Christine | Skillshare

Focus to Flourish: Productivity Skills for the Creative

Bonnie Christine, Surface Pattern Designer + Artist

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11 Lessons (38m)
    • 1. Intro

      2:37
    • 2. Dreaming to Doing

      3:24
    • 3. Goal Setting

      8:49
    • 4. Annual Planning

      4:03
    • 5. Power Blocks + Batch Working

      5:40
    • 6. Ideal Week

      2:25
    • 7. Top Tasks

      2:19
    • 8. Daily Brain Dump

      1:29
    • 9. Habit Tracking

      2:20
    • 10. Outsourcing + Automation

      3:20
    • 11. Design Your Life

      1:59
120 students are watching this class

About This Class

Hello, and welcome to class!

Not having enough time or not being able to focus is the #1 struggle I hear from my students, members and peers. And because I KNOW I can help creatives make their biggest goals come true, I created this course to help you focus, set goals and most importantly achieve them. 

It takes FOCUS to FLOURISH.

In this course we’ll be covering the workflow strategies that will help you hone your time management skills, accomplish your biggest goals and create a flow to your year that feels approachable and productive.

This class is for you if:

  • You've ever felt like you were scrambling for what to do next.
  • You’re not sure where to start.. or how to start.
  • You've ever felt overwhelmed.
  • You're juggling more than one job, or have something pulling at your time.
  • You’ve ever procrastinated on starting a big project.
  • You’ve ever wasted time aimlessly clicking around the internet.
  • You’re ready to say hello to day #1 of your most productive 12 months YET!

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Join the FREE Focus to Flourish Series!

Sign up here to receive the Focus to Flourish series. You'll receive one email each month for the next 12 month, each packed with tips and tricks to help you focus ... and flourish!

>> Sign Up To Receive Them Here >> https://www.surfacedesigntribe.com/focus

You’ll start with the first email on the day you sign up, so you can join at anytime during the year and you won’t miss a thing.

What You’ll Learn in Class:

  • Goal Setting + Achieving
  • Annual Planning
  • Power Blocks
  • Batch Working
  • Outsourcing + Automation
  • Habit Tracking
  • Time Management Practices
  • My Favorites Ways to Stay Laser Focused
  • Tips and Tricks to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed

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A quick note to also let you know that I created a planner that accompanies this course called the Flourish Planner. It’s not necessary to have the planner to work through this course, but if you do have it I’ll show you how to implement these strategies inside at the end of every module. To get your own, visit https://myflourishplanner.com

Wait, I thought you were a Surface Pattern Designer? You're right! This class takes a step away from the technical side of learning and focuses more on the big ideas and overarching sequence you’ll need to take in order to get there. If you’d like to learn Adobe Illustrator and the art of designing repeating patterns, check out my other Skillshare Classes here: https://skillshare.com/bonniechristine

What you’ll need:

All you’ll need for this class is 45 minutes and an open mind to all the possibilities of your future. Grab a piece of paper (or your Flourish Planner!) and your favorite pen or pencil and let’s start heart-storming your future!

Let’s get started!

Transcripts

1. Intro: Hey there, my name is Bonnie Christine. I'm a surface pattern designer, online educator, and creative entrepreneur. One of the best things I've learned since beginning my business in 2009 is time management and how to implement workflow strategies that allow me to accomplish my biggest goals, maintain balance, and consistent progress because I know it takes focus to flourish. Today I have the privilege of running on the multifaceted seven figured business as the designer, educator with one assistant, two small children, and plenty of time to enjoy life. In fact, I obsess over maintaining balance, a healthy lifestyle, and getting plenty of sleep each night. Not having enough time or not being able to focus is the number one struggle I hear from my students, members, and peers, and because I know I can help creatics make their biggest goals come true, I created this course to help you focus, set goals and most importantly, achieve them. In this course, we'll be covering the workflow strategies that will help you hone your time management skills, accomplished your biggest goals, and create a flow to your year that feels approachable and productive. A quick note to also let you know that I've created a planner that accompanies this course. It's called " the flourish planner." It's not necessary to have this planner to work through, of course. But if you do have it, I'll be showing you how to implement the strategies inside at the end of every module. To get your own, you can visit myflourishedplannar.com. I'm also so excited to offer anyone who's taken this course a year-long series of monthly emails, with tips on time management and work flow strategies. They are specifically created for creatics who are ready to focus in order to flourish. You can sign up for that at surfacedesigntribe.com/focus. Ready to get started? 2. Dreaming to Doing: Before we dive into the strategies I'll be sharing with you in this course. I want to share with you a little bit of the back story of how I became a student of time management. In 2011, I had this enormous goal of becoming a fabric designer, but absolutely no formal training and no idea how to make it happen. I spent some time considering going back to school, but I didn't want to uproot our family, so I wanted to try to do it myself first. Then six months went by and I woke up and I realized that I had this huge dream. But I have felt so overwhelmed that I had let six months go by without doing anything to accomplish it. That day, I decided to begin doing one thing every single day in the efforts is moving towards my dream. At the beginning, it was simply research, but one question led to one answer, which led to the next question, and so on and so forth. I began taking action every single day, some days for just a few minutes, others days for hours and hours. But I never missed a day and at the end of 18 months, I signed my first contract as a fabric designer with my dream company. By accomplishing this goal, I proved myself that these goals were absolutely achievable and it led me to using this one small thing, everyday method to accomplishing goals over and over again. But I haven't always cared about productivity and time management. Before I had children, I had all day to do whatever my business needed, which allowed me to do a lot of work that wasn't actually necessary. It wasn't until I had my first baby in 2013 that I realized how poor my workflow strategies were. All of the sudden my time to work got cut by that 75 percent. But over the course of a few months, I realized I was still getting everything that I needed done. The difference, I was forced to focus. I had cut out all of the ways that I had been wasting time and I had started to focus on being purely productive with the time that I did have. Maybe you can relate whether it's children, a day job or someone we're caring for. Many of us have something that significantly affects the time that we get to spend on our passions. Ever since I had my first child, I've been a student of workflow, productivity, and time management. Over the years, I have implemented tons of strategies, but only a few have worked, but the ones that did work worked very well. I've compiled all of them from a creative perspective into this course and a planner that will help you focus on your time management skills, maintain balance, and most importantly, achieve your biggest goals and dreams. Are you ready to dive in? Let's go. 3. Goal Setting: MUSIC] I can tell you one thing for sure. When I started planning out my goals and tasks and advance, my entire business changed, and I want the same for you. Taking time to plan ahead and putting a name to the big goals that we have helps give them life. Once you put them on paper or say them out loud, your entire focus shifts and things start to happen. My success and goal setting and achieving has led me to create a five-part plan for achieving goals and ultimately to creating the flourish planner that accompanies this course. It will help you identify your biggest dreams and then break them down into steps that feel completely actionable and not overwhelming. It will help you not only acknowledge your biggest goals, but then help you create a plan of action in order to achieve them. Because I've used this process so many times, I completely trust the whole process. I don't just believe that anything is possible, I know that anything is possible. And I know that anything is possible for you too. All it takes is intention, commitment, and a willingness to do the work. Let's dive in to the five-part plan. Part one, acknowledging the dream, which should be about one to two years out. Big dreams can feel scary, embarrassing, vulnerable, overwhelming, and sometimes downright silly. What will your family think? What will your friends think when they hear about your new goal? I know exactly how you feel, but I've also learned that there's something uniquely activating about putting a name to your big dreams. Saying them out loud, admitting them to your family, and perhaps announcing them publicly, will literally help put them into motion and ultimately helps them come true. It helps others to support you and it helps keep you accountable to yourself. Just a touch of social pressure is sometimes all it takes to keep you on track. Write it on a piece of paper, or maybe in your planner. Say it out loud, admit it to your social media followers, put it out there and just watch. Things will start to happen. Plan once you have your biggest dreams on paper, it's time to create a plan of action in order to accomplish them. This may feel overwhelming, but if you take the time to map it out, even roughly, it will definitely reduce the amount of overwhelming feeling in the moment. You'll be revisiting these long, mid, and short term goals periodically so you don't have to get it perfect, you just have to get it on paper. Remember it's flexible, but will serve as a way of ordering steps that you need to take. Part two is to identify your long-term goals. Long-term goals are the big rocks you know you'll need to accomplish in order to make your dream come true. They are naturally the furthest out on the calendar. You definitely will not know how you're going to accomplish them yet, and there will be many question marks surrounding them but putting them here will allow you to let them rest here until you have a clear vision. Getting them out of your head and onto paper helps reduce overwhelm and gives you permission to not even think about how, until later on. Long-term goals are generally 12 to 18 months out. Part three, Identify the mid-term goals. Mid-term goals are the ones that are still a bit fuzzy but are clearly identifiable. You may still not know how you're going to accomplish these goals, but you know that they must be achieved in order for your dream to come true. They will feel slightly more achievable than the long-term goals, but you recognize how you can begin working towards them. Mid-term goals are usually about six to 12 months out. Part four is to identify your short-term goals. Short-term goals are a bit clear and while they can still feel doutinge, you can clearly see how you can begin working on them right away. These short-term goals are usually zero to six months out. Part five, acting on daily tasks, doing one thing each day that moves you towards accomplishing your short-term goals, and eventually, the mid and long-term are the small actionable items that nudge you to move forward each day. These tasks are small and achievable. They may feel hard, but they won't feel overwhelming. It's through these small daily tasks that you'll chip away at accomplishing your goals and make a measurable progress over the course of a year. Rewards. Throughout this process, don't forget to schedule time to revisit your dreams and goals, reflect on the progress that you've made and reward yourself through the entire process. Naturally, accomplishing these goals may inspire you to set deadlines along the way. For every deadline you create, I want you to immediately create a reward. If you meet the deadline, you get the reward. It could be something as simple as getting ice cream, shopping at your favorite store, booking a massage or something bigger, like taking a trip or splurging on a larger experience. Whatever it is, don't forget to lay out them in to your entire dream coming true process. Just remember to save the biggest reward for when you officially realize your dream. Hold onto it. It's going to happen. Ready to put it on paper? Let's look at a real-world example. Step number one, write down your dream example, "I want to be a wallpaper designer. I have no idea where to begin, no formal training and definitely no credentials. But I have a dream and I'm willing to commit on working towards it. I'm not in a hurry for overnight success because I know that long-term consistency will reward me." Step number two, list three long-term goals that directly relate to the dream. Example is, create a list of potential partners. "Send my portfolio to ten companies. Exhibit at a licensing show." Step number three, identify the mid-term goals. List three mid-term goals that directly relate to achieving the long-term goals. Example, create three pattern collections, put together a physical and digital version of a portfolio, create a website, and coordinating social media profiles. Step number four, identify the short-term goals. List three short-term goals that directly relate to achieving the mid-term goals. Example, learn Adobe Illustrator, learn how to create repeating patterns and decide on a business name. Number five is where the daily tasks come in. Lists the daily tasks that you'll need to start working on right away in order to accomplish your short-term goals. Example, again, researching the industry, google, how to become a wallpaper designer. Find a course on the topic, fully commit and participate in that course. Again, drawing on a regular basis, study other designers who are doing what I want to do. Now that you have it on paper, you can start taking action. You can miss one day of daily tasks, but try to never miss two. In just a few months, you won't believe how much progress you've made. Of course, there are a lot of steps in between that aren't listed on paper. But the tasks under each goal milestone are the biggest rocks you know, you'll need to accomplish. They are also very definitive. Note, instead of saying, start working on collections, I said create three pattern collections. Eating as clear as possible as you go will help you minimize, overwhelm and provide structure. This is all about setting yourself up for success as much as possible through the entire process. And remember, you've got this. Download the dreams and goals exercise, or if you're using the flourish planner turn to the goals and dreams section. Writing down your goals and dreams is the first step to accomplishing them. Start with your biggest streams and then work backwards. What long-term goals need to be accomplished for the dream to come true? What mid-term goals would help accomplish the long-term goals? What short-term goals will help accomplish the mid-term goals? Use the goal tracker to track your progress.[MUSIC] 4. Annual Planning: Before I started planning out my year in advance, I would find myself making inconsistent income. For instance, having one really successful month followed by several really slow months. Saying yes to way too many things and feeling like I was scrambling on a daily basis. To try to decide what I was supposed to be doing next, I set aside a full day or maybe two, at the beginning of each year to plan. This allows me to space out my income so that it's predictable and reliable. Never overbook myself and always have focus and direction, with what I should be doing and working on. It also helps me build in enough lead time before an event, to start talking about it and advance. One of the biggest keys to success is giving yourself a long enough runway, to plan for an upcoming project, release, a launch or a collection. Having it on the calendar at the beginning of the year makes this easy. This year, I want you to refine your schedule and your pace by creating an annual plan, that allows you to get into a methodical pace where you can consistently work, find a flow, and have plenty of margin. I want you to leave chasing deadlines and scrambling for your next best idea behind. When you're ready to make a plan for your year. Again, by putting your family activities and vacations, personal priorities down first. Then begin filling in the calendar with deadlines that you already know of, and any business travel that you already have booked. Finally, work to schedule extra projects, launches, releases, and any other projects that you want to focus on during the year. Having everything evenly spaced will help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed, and will allow you to see if you should say yes or no, to extra commitments. Because in order to say yes to the best things, we have to say no to a lot of really good things. Being selective and saying no to even some of the good things, will help you fight overwhelm and allow you to say yes to the things that grow your business and inspire your life. Creating balance in your life is directly related to what you say yes and no to. Peers, friends, and family will approach you with opportunities, interviews, invitations, lunch dates, collaborations, they will want you on their team, and much more. How you handle these requests will contribute to your life balance. It's imperative that when you say yes, you understand what you're saying no to. Of course it's hard to say no, but Seth Godin addresses it best when he says," You can say no with respect, you can say no promptly and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes. But just saying yes because you can't bear the short-term pain of saying no, is not going to help you do the work." Download the annual planning exercise, or if you're using the Flourish planner, turn to the year at a glance section. Use this section to map out your year. Annual planning allows you to see all of your big events at one glance. Again by writing in, family time and vacations, then fill in with your business commitments like launches, collection releases, courses, events, and travels. Planning and advance will help you evenly distributed your income producers and know when to say no to other commitments. 5. Power Blocks + Batch Working: Finding a flow that works for you is key to making progress. Being in a flow means working in a mode of creation that's free of all distractions. It's a channel of production where you're fully tuned in and every distraction is turned off. It's that time that you're feeling laser-focused and you're really drilling down into the task at hand. Research shows us that we get interrupted on average once every three minutes, and then it takes several minutes for us to get back into the grind once we've been interrupted. This leads to days where we spend most of our time working on low-value tasks and trying to get back on track. The best way that you can get into a flow session is by working in power blocks, which means setting a designated amount of time, usually 45 to 90 minutes, where you remove all distraction and work on one single task. It's so important to clear your space and give yourself permission to do nothing but the one task at hand. In order for a power block to work, you must remove all distractions. For example, I know that when a task gets difficult, I love to reach for my phone, or when I'm procrastinating on a project, I'll gladly accept any new notification that comes my way. When working in a power block, you'll remove all of the distractions and all of the temptations. You may silence notifications. You might even move your phone to another room and perhaps you'll sit in a new distraction free location to accomplish the work. Once you finish a power block, you can reward yourself with a few minutes of stretching, aimless clicking around the Web, checking email and all of your social media handles. Let's also talk about will power. We all have will power that fluctuates during the day. If you can take a step back from this and then start to recognize when your will power is at its highest, you can better set yourself up for success when it's at its lowest. An easy example of this would be to prepare yourself a healthy snack when you're not hungry, so that when you are hungry, you have something quick and healthy to grab that's good for you. At work, it might look like removing all notifications and putting your phone in another room, so that you can focus during your power block. Batch working. Similar to power blocking, is something called batch working. This means grouping similar tasks together to take advantage of your preparedness to do that task. Many tasks have a ramp-up period and many also have an unwind period. By batching these tasks, you'll spend less time ramping up and winding down, which equals more productivity. For example, if you host a podcast, there's always an effort to get set up. You have to get in a quiet place, set up your mic, prepare the talk, etc. By batching this work, you only have to set it all up once, then you can record several episodes at one time. Another way to implement batch working is to designate time to set your project up when you have the time. That will allow you to contribute 10 to 15 minutes of it at a time whenever you do have the time. For example, if you have 10 free minutes, it may feel like not enough time to begin a new project, like a painting. But if you have already gotten all of your supplies out early and left them in a way that allows you to just pick up your brush and start planning, you could easily contribute 10 to 15 minutes to it without feeling that burden of the ramp-up time. For those of you who have full-time jobs and a side hustle, think about the ways that you could work over the weekend to set yourself up to be able to contribute to the project in smaller increments during the week. For example, perhaps you're working on designing a new website. You could create a browser with all the necessary tabs open and you're already logged into all of them, and you leave that open. That way when you have 10 minutes, you can just sit down and get straight to work on the project. Thinking about removing as many barriers to entry as possible to help you focus when you do have the time, will help. This helps you find and utilize time in the nooks and the crannies. A long time ago, I heard someone speak about how they never say I don't have time to. Rather they would say, it's not important enough for me to make time for. Because the truth is, we make time for whatever is most important to us. What a mental shift, 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there add up. In fact, just 15 minutes a day adds up to over 91 hours over the course of a year. The point is, we do have the time. We're just doing something else with it. Just think of the dreams that could come true, the talents that could be explored and the goals that could be accomplished with that kind of time. 6. Ideal Week: [MUSIC] The point at the Ideal Week Exercise is that no week is ever ideal. Rather, having an ideal week scheduled will give you something to reference and help keep you on task. Creating a routine for success. Because being a creative entrepreneur usually means you can work whenever you want. But it can also mean not knowing when to do what. Learning the times of the day that you're most focused and efficient, will help you assign your tasks accordingly. For example, you could schedule your more mundane tasks, like responding to emails or packaging orders. For the times of the day when you know your energy or focus will be at its lowest, then schedule your most creative tasks during the times that you know you will have the most focus. When working for yourself, It's easy to get caught up in the household errands, little projects and chatting on the phone. Often times, people don't really understand why you're not available for things like lunch dates, phone calls, and swing by visits. It's important to realize that no one is going to care about your time as much as you do. So be up front and strict about your work hours, whatever they may be, and try to work when you've set aside the time to do so. Others are not going to take your work seriously unless you do. Remember, you are on a mission and you're the only one who's in charge of it. Download the ideal week exercise or if you're using the flourish planner turn to the ideal week spread. Fill in each day with the activities that you would do in your perfect week. Wake up, workout, check email, time block for work, check slack, et cetera. Scheduling consistent time blocks and your most important tasks for each day in advance, will provide structure and give you something to reference throughout the week, especially when it isn't ideal.[MUSIC] 7. Top Tasks: Creative entrepreneurs live by to-do lists, but all tasks are not created equal. We have a tendency to put off hard tasks by focusing on easier things. I call this Productive Procrastination. It's important for us to highlight the top three tasks we need to accomplish on any given day. These tasks should be tackled first, knowing that once you're done, you can focus on the rest of the task list. One of these three tasks should always be reserved for the one thing you're doing that day that will help you make progress on your biggest goal. The best way to work on your top three tasks are by implementing a power block for each one of them. Without designating top tasks, it's too easy to aimlessly click around the web, going in circles from your inbox to multitasking on other things all at once. I know you know what I'm talking about. This will allow you to end the day with a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and with plenty of mental bandwidth to spare, download the Week Spread or if you're using the Flourish Planner turn to the Week Spread. We all have long to-do lists, but not all tasks are of equal importance. Use the top three task area to prioritize the tasks that are most important for the day. In other words, what three tasks, if completed, would leave you feeling accomplished for the day? This will help prevent you from working all day on busy tasks, use 90 minute time blocks of time to knock them out and note the Flourish symbol, "the best way to accomplish big dreams is by doing one small thing each day that moves you closer to achieving them." Write down your one thing each day next to the Flourish symbol. This task should always be one of your top three. 8. Daily Brain Dump: The best way to transition from work back to life is to do a quick frame. This looks like making a to-do list at the end of the day and at the end of the week so that you can shut your brain off and be present in your real life. When we return to work the next day, you can see exactly where you left off and begin with a clear plan of action. Getting all of those to-dos out of your head and on paper will help you segment your work and be more present in your life, preventing your mind from trying to remember all those things that you have to do for the next workday. Download the week spread, or if you're using the flourish planner, turn to the week spread. At the end of each day, jot down your to-do list for the next day. Use the next week's section to make a plan for the following week before you sign off for some downtime. 9. Habit Tracking: Whether you're trying to start a new habit or break a bad one, tracking them is the best way to make progress. Learning how to do this from Jerry Seinfeld, who shares a strategy called Don't Break the Chain. "For everyday you successfully accomplish the habit that you are trying to create, you place a red X in the box. Soon you'll see a chain form and your goal is to keep the chain from breaking." James Clear, who writes Atomic Habits, says, ''All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single tiny decision, but as a decision is repeated a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time." He then goes on to explain how every action you take is a vote for the type of person you want to become. No single action will transform your life, but as these votes build up, so does your new identity. Tracking your habits will help you see the progress that you make and motivate you to keep the chain going. Download the Habit Tracker exercise or if you're using the Flourish Planner turn to the habit tracker at the beginning of each month. Creating healthy habits around work and life is an essential tool for productivity. Using the habit tracker will help you keep track of the habits you trying to create. Fill in the empty boxes at the top with the days of the week for that month, then place an X on each box for every day that you successfully accomplish the habit. It's okay to miss one day, but try and never miss two. 10. Outsourcing + Automation: There are so many ways to lighten your load and so many things you can outsource. If you're not sure where to outsource in your business, think about just a few things that you could do to make your life easier. Perhaps you could hire a housekeeper to come once or twice a month, a babysitter to help a few times a week, or maybe you use a meal service plan to help make your mealtimes easier. If you're ready to start outsourcing in your business, start with what's easiest and work up from there. Perhaps you could hire someone to package and ship your products, contact press release opportunities for you, or re-purpose your content and schedule social media posts. If you're still struggling to find where you could outsource, help. Think about the things that you love about your business. Perhaps it's creating artwork, painting, making photos, creating content, or updating your website. Make the things that you love working on a priority. On the flip side, what are the things that dragging you? You know the things that you often procrastinate on finishing or just seemed to zap the energy out of you. Try to start outsourcing these tasks first. The question to ask yourself is, should I be doing this job at all? In other words, what tasks can only be done by you. If you outsource the tasks that don't have to be done by you, it would give you more time to focus on the things that you can only do yourself. The benefit is that those are often the tasks that bring us the most joy, the most income, and ultimately allow us to make the biggest impact in the world. Remember, you are the talent. Let's talk about automation. Is there anything you can find in your workflow that would benefit from automation? Consider things like automating e-mails, social media shares. Anytime you have a problem or you solve a problem, consider if there's a way you could automate the resolution for the next time. The hope is to avoid reinventing the wheel every time. The same problem that arises, for example, if you tend to answer the same questions over and over again, perhaps you could say the list of responses that you can pull from. If you make imagery or write articles in the same way over and over again, perhaps you could make a template that can be used to make it easier. Grab a notebook, or if you're using flourish planar turned to the journaling pages at the back, again, writing down the things that you love and can only be done by you. Then begin writing a not to-do list. The things that you would love to outsource. 11. Design Your Life: Creativity depends on downtime, on doing nothing, having time to chase our inspiration and explore new angles. Learning how to be focused and productive doesn't mean being able to do more all of the time. It means having more time to perhaps do nothing at all. Rather than spend our time clicking to see if the internet has updated, what if we decided to say no and show up to explore the real life that is sitting right in front of us. Creating margin, space to relax and time to learn new things is a vital part of being able to accomplish more. Never forget that you are the one who gets to design your life. Make sure that you do it with intention and remember, when you learn to focus, you'll begin to flourish. If you'd like to get your very own flourish planner, visit myflourishplanner.com. I'm also so excited to offer anyone who's taking this course a year long series of monthly e-mails with tips on time management and workflow strategies. They're specifically created for creatives who are ready to focus in order to flourish. You can sign up for that at surfacedesigntribe.com/focus. Remember, don't dig up and doubt what you planted in faith.