Productivity for Creatives: Build a System That Brings Out Your Best | Thomas Frank | Skillshare

Productivity for Creatives: Build a System That Brings Out Your Best

Thomas Frank, YouTuber, Author, Entrepreneur

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9 Lessons (1h 22m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:36
    • 2. What is a Professional Mindset?

      5:50
    • 3. Your Physical and Digital Workspaces

      12:21
    • 4. Inspiration as a Muscle

      11:12
    • 5. Efficiency and Efffectiveness

      13:11
    • 6. Creating and Using Templates

      13:39
    • 7. Collaboration and Delegation

      9:53
    • 8. Final Thoughts

      2:32
    • 9. BONUS: Conversation with Ali Abdaal

      11:17
2304 students are watching this class

About This Class

Turns out inspiration isn’t a muse; it’s a muscle, and you have the power to make it stronger. 

Thomas Frank isn't just a productivity expert; he's also an artist - infusing his video projects with cinematic shots and creating his own music on the side. Though years of working as an independent creator, he's learned that the same approach to productivity that works for regular tasks can also be helpful for doing more consistent (and better) creative work.

Now, Thomas is sharing his discoveries in his newest (and weirdest?) Skillshare class all about the relationship between productivity and creativity, where you'll learn:

  • Why everyone should cultivate a professional mindset, even beginners
  • How to set up your physical and digital space to work for you, not against you
  • Collaboration tactics to make your life and projects easier
  • And the art of building your inspiration like a muscle

...plus much more, including some appearances from special guests! 

No matter what kind of creative person you are, you'll leave the class with a new understanding of your own creativity — and the ways you can nurture and expand it through the simple magic of productivity. 

This class is for anyone with an interest in using productive systems to help support their creativity, whether in their hobbies or careers. You don’t need any special materials — just the usual tools you use daily, such as your computer. Thomas’ conversations with his friends and peers about how their productivity and creativity intersect will be posted weekly, starting Friday, 1/15; don’t miss them!

Transcripts

1. Introduction: When I think about productivity on a personal basis, for me, I'm really a systems builder. I don't like to be a machine, just cranking out the same thing and trying to be faster and faster and faster. I love thinking about the internal systems that actually help me do what I need to do. Hello, my name is Thomas Frank, and welcome to my third class here on Skillshare. This class is all about productivity for creators, building systems within the mind and within the real world to help you do your creative work more effectively. For last about ten years, I've been making stuff for the Internet, YouTube videos, podcast episodes, blog posts, even a book all about how to live a more productive life. The reason I want to teach this class, in particular, is I love thinking about how to make my own work more efficient. I see it as containing three different pillars, the first of which being your mindset. You want to adopt what's called a professional mindset, not contrast against an amateur mindset. Pillar number 2 is going to be your environment, the systems that you use every single day to assist you in your creative work. This ranges from your physical real-world space and your digital space. Pillar number 3 is going to be all about collaboration and delegation. You're creative, runs your own business or you find your operation growing over time, you are inevitably going to find yourself at a point where you cannot do everything you need to do, and that is where delegation comes in. I am super excited to get started, so thanks as always for joining me, and let's get into the first lesson. 2. What is a Professional Mindset?: We got to tackle the big question before we get into all the nitty-gritty. What exactly is a professional mindset? Well, professional mindset is simply not relying on inspiration to strike in order for you to do your creative work, that is the mindset of an amateur. By contrast, professionals work on a schedule, they are disciplined, they sometimes will say that inspiration strikes, yes, but it strikes the same time every single day. In fact, my friend James Clear once told a story about a friend of his who said, "Yes, I do work when inspiration strikes me, it just so happens that that inspiration strikes at 8:00 AM every single day." Steven Pressfield's book, The War of Art is basically a meditation on this entire idea. Professionals realized that when their craft is something they take seriously, when they adhere to a strict schedule and they work with discipline, inspiration tends to strike more often, you almost prime your mind for it. By contrast, amateurs seem to think that the Muses are out there and they just inspire you whenever they feel like it, and they don't put themselves on a schedule. Sometimes that does work, sometimes you will just get this bolt of lightning inspiration and go do something, but when you put yourself on a schedule, when you put yourself in constraints that allow you to focus your mind in an environment that allows you to be more creative and not get distracted, you'll find that this inspiration actually strikes more often than it would if you didn't do that. What's the point of thinking like a professional? Well, I covered the broad strokes of it already in this lesson, but let's talk about it a little bit more deeply. Essentially, if you want to be a creative who has an actual substantial outpouring of work, you have to think this way because the idea that inspiration just strikes at random is kind of just that, it's an idea, it's a myth. When you actually talk to the most creative people out there, a lot of people that I admire, you find that yes, they're artists, but they're working artists. Devin Townsend, a musician, is a great example. He's thought of as a musician's musician. He's made all these insane albums with thousands of different instrumentation, tracks and layers on them. You would think that a guy this creative, this out there, would just work when the inspiration hits him. But I've talked to other musicians, my friend Mary Spender, who's a YouTuber and a guitarist, for example, who tell me that, "No, Devin is one of the hardest working musicians out there and is on a schedule," and you'll find that a lot of artists do this. The idea of being an artist waking up every day, just working when you feel like it, again, it's kind of a myth, and if you want to be that artist, if you want to have actually the freedom to do the work that you want to do, you'll find that when you put yourself on a schedule, when you build systems for yourself, that actually is more realistic than it otherwise would be. To quote James Clear again, one of my favorite quotes of his, he said that, "You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems." So when you can build a system like this, when you can put yourself on a schedule, you fall here instead of here, that's the point. What I am to do with this class is number 1, inspire you to create these systems for yourself to put yourself on a schedule because from personal experience, I have found that the moment I did that, my output went up, my creativity went up, and I was able to be more successful in my business, and also help you to build the real-world systems that help you to stay in that mindset long-term. Another big benefit of cultivating a mindset like this is it inevitably leads you to create constraints that maybe at first seem like hindrances, but later on, you will realize are quite useful. I think of creativity and productivity as air. If you go to the stratosphere, that point where the atmosphere starts to peter out and you don't really know if you're in space, or if you're still within the realm of our planet, air is so spread out, the molecules that make up the atmosphere are so spread out that they can't really do anything for you, you can't even breathe air up there. By contrast, if you compress air both at atmospheric level, you can breathe it, and if you compress it even more, you can do useful things with it, then it becomes a more useful substance, that's how I think of creativity. If I can build essentially a box for myself, some useful constraints and limitations, I find that I'm more focused and I get more ideas. I use music as an example. I've got a music channel over on YouTube, I've been working on music for years, but for the longest time, I never actually created a song, I just noodle around. Every time I would sit down at a DAW, a digital audio workstation like Studio One or Logic, I would look at that blank canvas with the potential to create infinite tracks and completely draw a blank, just like many authors will look at that blinking cursor, and completely draw a blank, because when you have all the possibilities in the world, you don't know what to latch onto, you're like that atmosphere way up in the stratosphere, just spread out, inert, not doing anything. But give yourself a creative limitation. I have to make a track only using three tracks, only using one virtual instrument and my guitar, that's it. Well, now I've got something to latch onto. Now, I know what my constraint is, and I can think of creative ideas within that constraint, that is a huge benefit of cultivating this mindset. That's where we're going to end this discussion of the professional mindset, we are now going to transcend the mindscape and go in to the realm of the physical, talk about your actual environment, workspace. See you there. 3. Your Physical and Digital Workspaces: All right. So let's talk about one of the most important aspects of your creative workflow, which is your environment. I'm in a creative environment right now and I've got basically all the tools that I need to do the job at hand. I've got this cool Clapper board, I've got a globe and some props to make the set look good, and I've got a bunch of cameras. But for the majority of my work, which is investigating ideas, writing videos scripts, editing videos, this is not really a good environment for it. I'm in a very dark room. There's no natural light. I don't have an outlet nearby and I don't have my computer here. So I can't really do my creative work, and this is what you should be thinking about with your own creative work. How can I tailor my environment to help me do the things that I need to do? Right now, we're going to have a discussion of a few different considerations within that whole overarching idea. The first is something called The 22nd rule. This comes from Shawn Anchor's book The Happiness Advantage. It's all about an idea that he calls activation energy. He applied it to habits, but I want to apply it to creativity. When you're designing your environment, you have to keep this activation energy in mind. Well, what is activation energy? It essentially is the time and the energy required to either start doing an activity or access a tool that you need. The 22nd rule is a specific barometer that he sets up in the book. If you want to do something more often, then make it take less than 20 seconds. Lower that activation energy required to get into it. If you want to stop doing something, increase the activation energy. Make it take longer than 20 seconds. If you're trying to write a book, but you've also got Crash Bandicoot 4 that just came out and you just can't stop playing it, like me, then you'd want to increase the activation energy required to boot up your PlayStation and decrease the activation energy required to start writing. That might mean having your computer in a more central location in your house or waking up and making it part of your morning routine to boot up the computer. Get your word processor up on the screen. So whenever inspiration strikes you, you can start writing, or if you're me, we're going to talk about this more in depth later in the class, setting up shortcuts on your phone and your computer to instantly launch the exact area where you're supposed to be dumping your ideas out. Again, with the PlayStation thing, if I'm having trouble, I just can't stop playing Crash Bandicoot 4, maybe I'm going to go put the disc on the other side of the house or I'm going to put the power cord to the PlayStation in my lock-box somewhere. It's going to take me a minute or two to set it up. Which means that when I'm struck by a flight of fancy to go play PlayStation instead of write my book, I'm probably not going to do it. I've made it more inconvenient. That is the 22nd rule. With regards to increasing the activation energy, that doesn't just stop at pure distractions. It can also stop at your tools. As a creative, you probably do a lot of different things. I know I do. I write videos, I edit videos, I designed my website, I go on Twitter, and I make hot takes. All of these things are integral to my business, to my creative work, but I can only do one well at once. So I think about the context. What am I supposed to be doing right now and what tool should be close at hand? When I'm designing my environment, I want those and only those tools to be within arm's reach. But with tools that I don't need, like tools for making those hot takes on Twitter or editing a video when I'm supposed to be writing it, I should get those as far away as possible. Otherwise, I may have the temptation when I get that little resistance to writing to say, "Hey, I should switch over to editing a video instead, that's going to be a little bit easier." I want to cultivate the mindset that say, "No, I'm going to actually sit and write my book. "If I put myself in a context where the only tools near me are the tools needed to write the book, I'm going to have an easier time doing that. Let's talk about your tools specifically. We've talked about having them in arms reach or keeping them purposefully out of arm's reach, but what specifically should you be using? Well, I can't really tell you the exact things to use. It might be a pencil, it might be a keyboard, it might be a camera. It depends all on your craft. But we can talk a little bit about when you should upgrade your tools. What you should actually be buying and using. Specifically with upgrades, I think about a couple of things when I'm considering a new piece of gear. Number 1, is it going to remove friction for my workflow? Is going to make the tool more of a joy to use? In this case, I will always spend the money that I can to get the best possible thing within my budget. I don't want to skimp because I know I'm a creative and I have a professional mindset. I'm not using an amateur mindset. If I'm a professional, I should be using the tools that professionals use. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you have to go out and buy like an RE cinema camera to film a YouTube video just because Hollywood studios use that. But using this mindset, I want to think like a professional and I want to get the best thing available to me. I don't want to be dealing with a lot of friction in my workflow and I want the product to be as good as I can make it. To give you a really nerdy example right here, my old camera used to film in a codec that was really hard to edit and I found that the editing process was slower and more frustrating because of that. One of the reasons that I upgraded to my new camera is it has a codec, essentially like the file format that a films in, that's a bit more friendly to edit, and that means that both myself and my editor have a better time editing that footage. Yes, it costs money to upgrade the camera, but we save time and we say frustration in the editing process. This is big, not just time, but frustration. If you can reduce this, you're going to find that you're more creative. You're going to find that when you get an idea, your default reaction to that idea isn't, "That's such a pain." It's, "No, let's go ahead and do it because I know there's not a bunch of friction, stress, and roadblocks in my way. I've just set things up and I've got the gear I need to execute on that vision." The other thing that I recommend here is to observe your processes and ask yourself if there's a tool out there you don't currently have that could make an improvement. We talked about tools you already have and whether or not you should upgrade them. I'm always on the lookout for anything I can use, not just physical, but also maybe an app that can help me do my work more effectively. Great example, I started a brand new channel called Thomas Frank Explains, it's all about Notion tutorials because I'm just a nerd about that app. I used to spend time in After Effects drawing boxes on the screen to highlight things. Then I asked myself, is there a way I could draw boxes on the screen to draw attention to specific areas of the screen while I'm actually filming? It turns out there is. On Windows, there's an app called Epic Pen that will allow you to just draw boxes on the screen and then hide them or show them at will. So I can do that while screen recording and that cuts out a ton of the time in the editing process, and it also just makes it a lot more engaging for me to teach while I'm filming. To round this out, I want to talk a bit about my workspaces. Workspaces is plural in this case because I've found that as a professional, it behooves me to split up my workspaces based on the tasks that I'm doing. In the past, I tried to do everything from one computer and I have often thought that everything I do could be done from a laptop, from anywhere in the world. To go a little bit further, everything I do, making videos, writing blog posts, creating podcast episodes, interacting on social media, even making a website, could be done from this phone, which has the outline for this class right on it so I don't forget what I'm supposed to say. If I were to use just this phone or if I were to use just one computer, then number 1, I would be using the exact same tool for every single aspect of my work, which could work, but again, we've talked about the benefits of physical separation, of creating constraints for yourself, and also, the work wouldn't be at as high of a level of quality. That is something that I think about, what separates me from everyone else out there who has access to this? Who has access to simple laptop with a webcam? Well, there's my creativity. That's what I can communicate, but there's also some of the technical aspects that I have worked to improve over time. I think this is key to being creative and being a professional creative, and pushing your craft. You don't want to get caught in the gear acquisition syndrome too much, but you do want to think, what separates me from everyone else who has access to the base level tools? Let's talk about my workspace a little bit. I've got one upstairs that is my writing workspace. This is just a laptop connected to a dock, where I've got a bigger monitor so I have the ability to split up my research on one side of the screen and my writing on the other side of the screen. I also make heavy use of macOS's Spaces features, so I can switch between different pieces of research at will, and then this is in a home office, so I've got access to my bookshelf as well. Then there's the studio, this room that I'm in right now. This is like a one-stop-shop for filming at a set, but also editing. We've got my edit station over there. We've got Tony's editing station over there. They're actually quite close together because it allows us to bounce ideas off each other a lot of times. A lot of times, we'll just collaborate. I'll turn over like, "Hey, what do you think of this thing that I'm editing here?" He'll do the same thing as well. At the desk, I've got two big monitors. Again, I love having a lot of screen real estate. I do have to be careful sometimes because having a lot of screen real estate can tempt me to have too many things open that are unrelated at the same time, but if I'm editing, it allows me to have all my scopes, all my preview windows, all my timelines, open and not compressed. Again, that's another thing that just reduces the friction and the stress and frustration involved and getting my work done. When you have more freedom to move about, something I like to do is a term my friend Joel calls workstation popcorn, where you actually move between different workstations throughout the day. I might have a writing desk upstairs, where it's really just setup for writing. Then an editing station downstairs, where it's setup for music production and video editing. These two areas are physically separate, so it's easier to physically separate these tasks in my mind as well. That being said, if you can only work at one physical place, maybe you're working at home now, maybe you don't have a whole lot of space to play with, there are other things you can do. You can make it part of your routine to set up the workstation for the task intended when you start working, and then during breaks, reset the workspace. This actually goes to a concept called mise en place, which I'm probably pronouncing very badly because I don't speak French very well. It's a concept in the culinary world that basically translate to everything in its place. Work clean, and chefs, and line cooks, and people who really take their craft seriously in the food world keep this idea top of mind, both at the start of the shift, the end of the shift, and even in the middle. They're always resetting the workspace back to its original state when they have time. Getting the tools within arm's reach, getting all the [inaudible] and [inaudible] off into the trash, off their cutting boards, to make sure that their working environment is in the optimum state for maximum productivity. This was a big lesson. We covered a lot and I want to move on to the challenge, the project for this lesson, but first, let's recap a bit. We talked about the 22nd rule, keeping the tools that you need within arm's reach so that activation energy is low and keeping the things you don't need a bit more out of arm's reach. We talked about upgrades, when it makes sense to do so, when it maybe doesn't make sense to do so and it makes sense to hold off for a bit. We talked about separating your workspaces based on task, based on context, if you can. We also talked about how you can differentiate yourself through better tools in your creative work. If you're a professional, hopefully you'll be thinking about this in your work. To wrap this lesson up, I've got a bit of a challenge for you, which is really easy. Just go look at your workspace and ask yourself, what annoys me? What about my process do I think could be more efficient? Don't even think about buying new gear just for buying new gear sake, but think about the pain points in your process. Could you get maybe an app to draw on the screen? Could you get a better pen that doesn't run out of ink as often as it does? What could you do that's going to remove a pain point from your process and let your creativity blossom as a result? Once you're done with that, we're going move on to the third lesson in our class here, which is all about thinking about inspiration as a muscle. 4. Inspiration as a Muscle: Welcome to our third lesson, which is all about treating inspiration as a muscle that you can build over time through work. Over at my YouTube channel, I've often talked about the idea that self-discipline is like a muscle. When you work it out by exercising your ability to avoid doing things that you want to do, or to accept uncomfortable circumstances, you become more capable of doing that over time. Inspiration, getting inspired to do creative work, is exactly the same. What I want to do in this lesson is build upon that general idea we talked about in lesson number 1, and give you some specific examples from my own life that should, hopefully, inspire you to set up some constraints for yourself. We're going to start in a place you probably didn't expect, which is with Magic the Gathering. I started playing Magic the Gathering in 2013 and quickly learned that there's like a bazillion cards. When you're going to build a deck, especially in a format where you're allowed to use all the cards, like we talked about with our whole atmosphere example, it can be hard to know where to start. I remember a particular time we're playing and a friend challenged me to build a deck in half an hour before we're going to play it. I was like, "I don't know what to do." So I just picked a random card, this card, it's called Rosheen Meanderer, and it can just create basically power that can only be used for a certain type of thing, like hydras. Once I had that in mind, "Oh, I can only really use hydras in this deck, " I built this deck in 20 minutes. It's 100 cards. Didn't know what half the cards were, but because I had a constraint, because I had a thread to pull on, I was able to create this, and I've played with this deck for the last seven years. Even though I didn't spend a ton of time crafting it, it often wins, and it's a lot of fun to play with. So this is a great example of setting a constraint for yourself using some sort of box to let your creativity blossom. We're often told to think outside of the box. But with respect to productivity as a creative, sometimes you need to construct a box for yourself. Putting Magic the Gathering aside, I want to talk about a few times this has been very helpful in my professional work as a video creator, and as a blogger, and as an author. Each of these four different stories should hopefully illustrate one different type of constraint that you can use to let your creativity shine, and let your skills build in the process. The first one is simply scheduling. We talked about this in the first lesson. Professionals put themselves on a schedule. When I read this on James Clear's blog, and in the book War of Art, I put myself on a schedule, not only with my blog and my YouTube channel, but also with a book that I had been intending and failing to write for several years. What I did, as I said, "I'm going to write an outline for this book." It was called, 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades. It was basically 10 bullet points. Then I created some sub-bullets beneath each one, and I put myself on a schedule where I had to write 500 words each day. They didn't have to be great. They didn't have to be the most elegant prose in the world. I knew I could edit down my garbage writing when I was done, but it had to be 500 words, at least, each day. What I discovered in that process is that many times I would sit down, I would write my 500 words, and right around the 500-word mark, that is when I would get truly inspired. That's when I would get an idea and I would just chase that for a while. By the end of the day, I might have had 3,000 words. But I wasn't putting myself on a 3,000-word per day schedule because I knew that was too intimidating. I think about this in terms of a miner digging in the ground, looking for gold, or diamonds. When you're digging in the ground, you're not immediately going to find diamonds or gold at the surface level. You have to dig down, you have to shovel a lot of dirt up to the surface and spend a bunch of time basically just warming yourself up before you get to the good stuff. Think of yourself as a miner. You're using that first maybe 500 words, or first 25 minutes of a work session, whatever it may be, as that excavation time. You're just getting yourself down into the mine where you can actually start to get something that's worth getting. In my case, I ended up finishing my book within three months. I launched that to my e-mail list and it's actually become a pretty great income driver for my business, and it's also just really cool to know that I wrote a book, I put it out there. We even sold the audio book rights a couple of years ago so I'm technically a published author, and it's all thanks to that schedule I put myself on. The second technique for building your inspiration is all about setting productive limitations and putting rules on yourself. Again, we often find that there's just too much freedom, too many directions in which we could go, and either we end up not doing anything at all, or in my case, with too much freedom, I often end up making something that's a bit bloated, not as tight as it could be. With several of my videos, I've often given myself specific rules in which I have to operate. I'll say like, "I have to do half of this video as voice-over, so I can't just rely on being on camera and monologuing like I usually do." Or I'll say, "This video can only be seven minutes long." The example here that comes to mind of a really successful instance here is a video I did call The One Hour Morning Routine. I had done morning routine videos in the past, but I wanted to make one that was really tight. It had a lot of comments from people saying, "Hey, all these morning routine videos from entrepreneurs are unrealistic. I have to get up at 6:00 AM, and I have to be out the door at 7:00 AM. What can I do?" So I wanted to make a video of what can you do in one hour? I said, "I don't want this to be bloated. My rule here is that this video must be no more than seven minutes long, even with the sponsor spot." It was really interesting because since I only had seven minutes, I had to really pare down what I said in the script. I got really concentrated and I got really good. Then I realized that because I only have seven minutes to work with, I don't feel overwhelmed. I often have 15 minutes or 20 minutes in a cut and I don't want to shoot B-roll, I don't want to shoot creative stuff of the entire thing because that would take forever. But seven minutes, and maybe only three-and-a-half of that needs to have B-roll. We did so much for that video. We learned a ton of new camera techniques, and we ended up with a ton of stuff that just made the video really good, and it ended up being a success. The lesson here is, sometimes it can be very useful to give yourself a rule to purposefully constrain yourself. Exercise number 3 is all about imitation. The jazz trumpeteer, is that the word? Trumpeteer or trumpeter, Clark Terry had a system that he called imitate, assimilate, innovate. When he talked to young jazz musicians, he would say that imitating the masters is one of the best ways to build your skill efficiently and quickly. This is because, again, it gives you a useful limitation. When you're trying to learn new techniques and you're imitating the masters by playing one of their songs, you're not trying to figure out what to play in the first place while also trying to master the techniques. You know what you have to play, you can just focus on those techniques, and the great thing is you have a built-in feedback mechanism because you can compare what you did to the source material. My favorite movie in the world is Scott Pilgrim vs the World. One of my favorite aspects of that movie and aspects of Edgar Wright's work in general is his amazing use of quick cuts and zooms. He has this very dynamic editing style that I really wanted to learn how to do. We took a scene from Scott Pilgrim. If you've seen the movie, there's one scene where he's putting on his jacket, he's putting on his shoes, he's putting on these wristbands, and he's running out the door to go beat the final bus, essentially. The way they shot that scene was just awesome. I really admired it. We pretty much remade that scene within the context in my video. I wasn't rushing off to beat the final bus, but we did zoom shots of putting the coat on, doing the boot tying, all that kind of stuff. It took me the better part of three days to edit together probably a 45-second sequence here. But by the end of it, I had learned so much about editing that I didn't know before, and I am now a much better editor for it. In the process, I remember it being so frustrating because I looked at my product, and I looked at the source material, and I just felt like I wasn't going to be able to get it to the level I wanted it. It was like I was mired in this frustration. But by hammering away at it, and by having this feedback mechanism, eventually I was able to hone it to a place that I really liked. If you have somebody you look up to, look at a piece of their work and see if you can imitate it. Maybe don't put it out there if it's a complete imitation, maybe just do it as an exercise for yourself, but in the process of trying to copy somebody you admire, you're going to learn the techniques more efficiently, and you're going to be able to, as Clark Terry would say, "Assimilate and then innovate," apply them to your own work. Finally, exercise number 4 is to pick a new tool, or a new technique and force yourself to use that technique in some kind of production. I have a great example for this as well. My friend Cory, over at the Channel 12tone, needed me to play a 19 over 16 time signature guitar riff, which in itself was something new for me because I do not really know how to play in weird time signatures. But after practicing that and recording it into my audio workstation software, I decided to use one of the new synthesizer tools that I had bought a long time ago and I hadn't used before. I basically told myself, "I've got the guitar part recorded. Now, to finish the song, I must use this new tool, and I must do something with it." I'm thinking, how can I use it? What can I do? The first idea that comes to mind is, synthesizers are usually used as pads to create this lush atmosphere. So I added a long adjoining pad in there, learned how to use it in that aspect. Then I was like, wait, what else can I do? I bet I could just double the guitar riff with the synthesizer. Doing that actually rounded out the sound a bit and I learned how to use it that much better. The final product was a heck of a lot more polished and full sounding than if I had just used the guitar, but more importantly, I now have a foothold for getting even more skilled with that synthesizer. If I do this over time with other virtual instruments, with singing techniques, with guitar playing techniques, over time, with each project I do, I'm adding more tools to my tool belt. To recap, here are the four inspiration building exercises we covered. Our number 1, putting yourself on a schedule, number 2, adding in some kind of productive constraint or limitation to a project, number 3, using imitation, imitating somebody you admire to get that feedback loop and use that as a practice zone before innovating on your own, and number 4, picking a new tool, or new technique, and forcing yourself to use it in a project. So if you've got a creative project in mind that you're planning on doing in the near future, apply just one of these exercises to it, and I think you're going to find a bit more inspiration comes to you in that project. With that said, we are now going to move into our fourth lesson which is all about efficiency and effectiveness. 5. Efficiency and Efffectiveness: It is now time for us to talk about everyone's absolute favorite topic when it comes to creativity, and that is, coffee. I got coffee here because, well, I need it to film my entire course in one day. But no, we're going to talk about efficiency and effectiveness in general. These topics might seem like they belong more in my first course on productivity systems, but creativity is bolstered by productivity, by efficiency. Hopefully, we've gotten that down in the earlier lessons, and this one, what I want to do is get more specific about how you can manage your time. How you can manage your effectiveness, your energy, and get a little bit into the metrics that you should be tracking with your creative endeavors, especially if you're thinking about them from a professional mindset. Which metrics are actually worth tracking? Which ones are just vanity metrics? Things that are really not worth worrying about. That's what we're talking about here. First, let's talk about efficiency. We're going to start here is to have a bit of a discussion about energy levels and how you can manage your energy levels and smartly schedule your work throughout the day, in order to take advantage of them. We've got a few bonus interviews in this class, one of which is with my friend Jordan Harrod, who runs a channel over on YouTube, all about machine learning and AI. While she is a YouTuber who spends quite a lot of her time making videos, she's also a full-time PhD student in the joint program with Harvard and MIT. So she's somebody who has to really balance the insane workload that comes with doing a PhD, with doing YouTube as well. In our conversation, we talk about how did she manage her energy levels? When does she schedule time for PhD work? When does she schedule time for YouTube work? In her case, it happens that PhD work does best during the day, and YouTube work does best as an after-hours thing, but it's something for you to keep in mind with any sort of creative endeavor that you have, especially if it's a side project. I've got a ton of friends who want to start side projects, they want to build a blog or design a video game, or start their own YouTube channels, whatever it may be, but they often say, I come home from work, I'm completely exhausted and I just can't get myself to do it. What they have is essentially an energy management problem, not a time management problem. They have some free time at the end of the day to pour into a side project, but the energy just isn't there. Something that I've learned throughout 10 years of essentially managing myself, working for myself, is that energy levels are only one part of the motivation equation. External systems are the other part of that. The obligations we have, the bosses, the accountability partners, these people and these systems can push us to do things that we might not otherwise do if we're just purely relying on self-discipline. In the case of friends of mine who have side projects they want to do, there's no overarching system forcing them to do these side projects, but there is an overarching system forcing them to get their work done. Usually, my recommendation is, wake up earlier, put in the time for your side project in the morning if you can, maybe even talk to your boss at work and see if you can have maybe a later start. Because then you're using your best hours of the day, when you're freshest, you've just woken up, to pour some time into your creative project. Then you can go to work and you can rely on these external systems to help you push through and get your assignments done. It's all about shuffling your obligations around, both the obligations you put on yourself and the ones that other people have put on you, to put them in the most effective order. Side note, if you're watching this class right when it goes up, you may not see Jordan's interview right now, it's going to be published a few weeks after this class's initial publish date, so check it out once it gets published, and there should be an email notification going out on that day. From that general idea, I want to give you a bit of a look into how I personally plan my day and manage my time right now. Hopefully, giving you a look into my system will give you some inspiration for how you could, number 1, set up some tools and systems for your own schedule, and number 2, shuffle things around and make your own schedule as efficient as it can be in the first place. As you might know, if you follow my YouTube channel or follow me on Twitter where I incessantly tweet about Notion, I use an app called Notion to essentially run my life. All of my project management, all of my company Wiki stuff, it's all done on Notion. So you're going to see a few different examples of this app in action for the rest of this class, but just know there are a ton of different tools out there and a lot of them are going to be able to do the same things. If you use Evernote or Roam or Google calendar or Todoist, a lot of the concepts we are going to talk about here are able to be applied to multiple different systems and tools. With that being said, I want to give you a look at the personal dashboard I've been building for myself over the past few weeks. This is a custom workspace that is tailored to me, and you may see this in the collaboration and delegation lesson we're going to do a little bit later, but each person on my team has their own workspace like this. What I love about Notion is you can create essentially whatever you want or whatever you need for each individual person. Personally, I need to see a big view of all the different projects I have in process. I've got a Kanban-style board for all the videos that go across my main Thomas Frank channel, my Thomas Frank Explains channel where I do Notion tutorials, my podcast, The Inforium, my IGTV videos. I can see the status of each of them right here. In addition, I can look at the editorial calendar to see which ones are supposed to go live and when. I can see right here that, well, really nothing is going live for the rest of the week. We've already gotten everything out, but next week I've got a couple of different videos coming out on the main channel, plus another video on the Thomas Frank Explains channel about how to make templates in Notion. What I'll do, at any given day, is take a look at the status for the projects, take a look at the editorial calendar, and I'll take a look at this tasks database up here. This one is filtered just to show tasks that are assigned to me, I've hidden the assignee column because it's just filtered to only show tasks that are mine, so I can look on any given day and see what's coming up just like you would in Todoist or Microsoft To Do. What I do now, and what I've done for years, is I'll take what I see here and I will just write up a daily task list. I've created a little database right here called Thomas Daily Tasks. Every time that I come in here to plan my day, I'll create a new box and others open here, and I'll make a very, very basic checklist. Right now I'm doing the number 1 thing on my task list today, which is to film my Skillshare class, and this will likely take most of the day, so I've got a couple of small tasks that I'm going to do once this is done, and then a few others that if I have time, if I decide to work a bit at night, I could work on these, but they are not explicitly planned. I also have a little box here called archive, so you'll notice that right here I only see a couple of different things. I've got yesterday's task list which had a couple of things that didn't get done, so I leave that there, but if I click archive, then I've got filter criteria to not show anything that has archived. I can actually go into this entire database, and if I look at the table view, I'm going to see every note that I've created since I started using this system. But all these are archived, so I don't see them in this gallery view, which means in my little personal workspace, I only see the one that really matters to me, which is today's and maybe yesterday's if I'm going to pull some stuff from that. This is an example of how you can plan your week, plan your overarching month to see everything going on in your life at a glance, and then use that information in a daily planning session to figure out what you need to get done on any given day and how you're going to order that. In that case, you're going to want to look at your constraints, your obligations, your calendar. In this case, we had from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, the Skillshare class filming was booked. If I get it done early, I'm going to have time to do these other things, but I didn't really have the option to move these above unless I wanted to get up super early in the morning. Try to do this, try to plan your day, but also plan your week. I find that when you book-plan during the morning, or first thing, or maybe even the night before, then you know what you need to do for the rest of the day. You're not constantly asking yourself what else is on my big task list. You narrow your focus to this one plan you've made for the day, and that's it. At the end of the day, you can go check things off, check them off in the main systems, and rinse and repeat. If you're curious to dive deeper into this subject, if you want to make sure that all the apps that you use to form your productivity system work in tandem, your task manager, your calendar, your note-taking system, my first class here on Skillshare called Productivity Masterclass: Create a Custom System that Works will be linked in the resources section, you can check that out for more details. For now, we're going to move on to the topic of key performance indicators; metrics. When you are working as a professional, when you have a professional mindset towards your creativity, you probably have some external goals with your creative output. If you're just doing things for fun, then maybe your metric is having fun. But if you're trying to go pro with this, if maybe you're trying to become a full-time YouTuber or a content creator, you're trying to be a full-time artist or musician, then you probably have some metrics that you're following, with the eventual goal to grow your business, to be able to go full time, or maybe even hire people and keep expanding. I want to talk about how to measure those metrics, how to know which ones are important, and give you a little bit of insight into how I think about this here. One thing that I've learned over 10 years of creating content is, on the internet, there are almost an infinite number of metrics that you could track. I'll show you here, this is the backend of my YouTube dashboard. Not only do I have views over a week period, watch time hours over a week period, subscribers, we also have real-time metrics. We also have how well each video did. Something that I've realized is when YouTube gives you this little box here that shows you the ranking, each video comparing to the last one, you can start to view that as the metric that really matters. Did this video do better than the last one? You start to feel like everyone has to go up in terms of views. What I've had to realize is this is important to a degree, but at the end of the day, it's a vanity metric. Number 1, I've learned that views are not the thing that matters most for building a sustainable business. If I work with sponsors, then how many conversions I get is that metric. If I'm selling my own products, then how many sales I get is that metric. In terms of good that I do in the world, views are also not the best metric to use because if I start to hone in on views, I may start to make surface-level content that's going to appeal to a larger and larger audience, but maybe not say as much. There's a scientific principle, or a philosophical principle called Goodhart's Law. It basically states that the more you focus on a particular metric, the less useful that metric starts to become because you start optimizing just to make that one metric go up. Often, metrics are interconnected and the health of one metric should hopefully be indicative of the health of the entire process, of the business, of the project, but if you start to focus in on simply one metric, you may start optimizing for it at the detriment of the entire thing you're building. Over time you may start to realize that other metrics, maybe even more important metrics, are starting to go down without you noticing it. To get into my personal metrics here, I've started to realize that pure views, pure watch time, they're not the only things that I should be optimizing for, especially when I really get down to it and ask myself, what makes for a fulfilling life? What is going to help me grow my business, or at least keep it at a level where it's going to sustain my own goals, my team, and you know what, what can be left by the wayside. These vanity metrics like views and watch time, often the motivation behind growing those, or at least part of the motivation, can be comparisons to other people. Comparisons to people in my peer group, comparisons to people who I'm friends with who are also creators, and these comparisons are entirely ego-driven, which means that they're not necessarily healthy and they aren't going to lead me to a place that I want to get to. Instead, I start thinking about what are the individual metrics that are going to get me to a place where I want to be. One thing that I want to do is start developing some more of my own projects on the side, my own products on the side. Maybe a metric that I would like to actually optimize for is not views, but maybe a conversion percentage on an email list for people who are interested in a specific project. For just one example, here on convert kit, I've got a form for this really in-depth Notion course that I want to make at some point. This is specifically going to be for people who want to use Notion for business. For whatever creative projects that you're working on right now, ask yourself, what are the metrics that are going to push me forward in the ways that matter to me, not in the ways that maybe my ego would like to go in, or in the ways that external pressures are trying to push me in, but the ways that truly matter to me. In the next lesson, we're going to turn our eye towards efficiency once again, and this is probably the lesson I'm most excited about for this class. We're going to talk about templatizing your work, finding shortcuts, finding ways to basically get a project almost 10 percent or 20 percent done by just pushing a button, so I will see you there. 6. Creating and Using Templates: Welcome to lesson 5 in this class, this is when we're talking about templafying your work. That is a word that I very much made up, but the word 'templates' is a very real word and it is a concept that I use in basically every stage of the production process, across blogging, across podcasting, and especially across video production. The main idea that I want to get across to you in this video is whatever your creative work is, whatever kind of projects you're working on, there's probably some template that you can build to give yourself a head start, and to take shortcuts essentially, to get your work done a little bit faster and a little bit more efficiently, and to basically illustrate the idea here, I'm going to show you three of my own templates, all related to my video production process. Like I said, I've got templates for blogging and podcasting as well, but video is by far the most intense and multi-step process that I go through as a creative, and because this is a repeat process, because we're making videos on my channel basically every week, I'm trying to get as many efficiency gains as I can without sacrificing creativity. Building templates is a huge thing for me. We're going to go back over to the computer. You get to see the cool sticker once more, and I'm going to show you three of these different templates, basically spanning the planning and writing process, the offloading and footage ingest process, which is just a fancy term for getting the footage off the cards to the place where it needs to be and then the editing process. Let's start naturally with that planning process, which happens once again in Notion. Again, this is why I love Notion. It can serve as a home for pretty much everything I do. We've got our tasks here, which are just everything I need to do across my entire business, but we've also got videos being tracked right down here, which is pretty great. Notion has a template feature which is part of the reason I love it so much and it integrates really nicely with the database feature. If I look over here, I can click ''New'' on this database, which is called Master Content Tracker. If I click "New", it's going to give me a new page, a blank page, essentially, but I've also got several different templates setup. This is something you can do in Notion databases. If we click the ''YouTube Video" and generate an instance of YouTube video, then I can basically put a title here. Let's do "What to do when you can't type fast" because I can't, and the template here fills in a bunch of information for me automatically. It gets a status, it gets the editor filled in, it gets the created date, and then we've got all this really cool stuff in here that I don't have to build from scratch. What I would do when planning a video is I would come through here and fill out the things that can't really be templatified. Sponsor changes every single time. Let's just say the sponsor is going to be Skillshare, hey, look at that. Published date, let's say this video is coming out November 9th, it probably is actually. The writer, because it's about my typing hacks, is going to be me. The number is going to be off the top my head, I believe it's going to be 210. Then there's a few other pieces of information here that we don't actually have to worry about, but for some things they do make sense to fill in. This, if I open, this is a page we're going to be a little bit more clear here. This is where all the real magic happens though. We've got all of this meta stuff that's brought in. We've got content areas where I can put research and notes, I can build my script. We have a B-Roll List that I can talk about and we have a tasks database linked view, so any tasks that are associated with this piece of content are going to show up here. Let's just take a look here. If I've got title ideas, I can put them in this drop-down. They'll easily show up right here. If I've got keywords that I want to target, maybe I'm building this video to hopefully get SEO traffic. Well, I'm going to put keyword ideas here. Maybe I've used a tool like [inaudible] to search for keywords, and then I bring him in here. I've got To Do's which is just a blank page, essentially. If I needed just like brain dump a bunch of check boxes. Then this is interesting. We have something that looks a little bit different here, Editing Checklist and Publishing Checklist, but these are template blocks. We've got template blocks within a template, and what this allows us to do is generate an instance of an editing checklist. This is a brand new editing checklist that has been just now generated, but if we look right here, it says global changes to the checklist should be made on the master Editing Checklist. So if we click this and look at the breadcrumbs, we are now at Knowledge Base Video Workflow Tutorial Editing Checklist. This is very helpful and this is one of the reasons I love Notion. We have a centralized, basically wiki, basically company knowledge base, where I've been building up documentation both for myself, but also for current team members and potentially new team members if they come in, to have a central source of truth, essential source of knowledge for every process in our business, and that central source of knowledge, if I click here on the "Video Workflow Tutorial" has all kinds of different pages. We've got a Filming Checklist, we've got On-Location Gear Checklists. We have documentation pages like this is a piece of documentation on how to record a screencast using OBS, and there's a bunch of different specific little settings you have to click and set up to make sure that OBS will actually record smooth footage that is going to be in 4K. This is almost a reference for myself. If I got a new computer, I'm going to have to go through this and redo all of it, and I know for sure I'm not going to remember it. But with the checklists specifically, like the Editing Checklist, I want this to exist in the knowledge base in our master wiki, essentially, because if there are any changes we make, I don't want to have to go into the template to make those changes. The template is not our knowledge base. I want to make the changes here. The beauty of having it be a template block within the template, instead of just having the Editing Checklist within the template just written, is it's not frozen. I don't have to go into the template again to change it. I can change it from the master area and any new video that we generate going forward, we can generate the most up-to-date version of the checklist, that is key. You do the same thing in the public checklists. If our process changes, it's not going to matter. It's going to be there reflected for every new video. Going forward, we have an area for editor feedback. I wasn't really planning to talk about some shortcut tools here, but for editor feedback, what I find is it's really useful to use a couple of different tools. Number 1, there's an app called Greenshot, which is just a screenshot application where this isn't actually Greenshot, but I can basically drag and draw a box, it'll take a screenshot and immediately copy it to my clipboard. In fact, I may be able to demonstrate right now. If I do this, should copy to my clipboard, and if I get out of my little drawing program, I can paste it. This makes feedback incredibly quick to do, because if I'm going through Tony's cut of something in Premier, Tony's my editor by the way, and I'm like, oh, there's maybe the topography is off on this one frame here. I can just screenshot it and paste it into Editor Feedback for this project. There's also a tool called Loom, which is a screen recording program, and just like Greenshot, when you take a Loom screencast, which also has your face and can use your microphone to record your voice. It will copy the URL to your clipboard, and then Notion has a Loom integration that was that OBS, I think I had a video in there, and if I didn't, we can actually show that. Let's go into Editing Checklist over here so we can get to the video workflow tutorial. I know we have a version of that right here, Turn Frame.io Comments into a Notion B-roll List. The top of this piece of documentation is actually just an embedded Loom screencast, went to this process, I recorded it very easily and I got it into my knowledge base, combine Loom or any app like it, like Droplr, along with a screenshot app like Greenshot and you'll be able to create documentation and wiki pages incredibly quickly. Then over here, you've got areas for research and notes. I've got a built-in area for my research and then I've got a built-in area for my script, and from here we've linked a Script Style Guide. There's all kinds of stuff you can do to start cutting down on maybe question marks in the planning process, but also a lot of the stuff we would have to set up by hand each time and we did use it, and now we don't, it's just boom, there for us. That is an example of templates in the planning process. Now, let's look at templates in the ingest and folder structure process. Because we make videos every week and because our videos all include footage, they include audio, they include music, they include animations. We have different directories that we make for each of these types of assets. I don't want to be creating those directories every single time. Let's take a look at the folder structure on our server, actually the server in the closet over there. So both I and Tony from our individual workstations can access the same file structure and edit right off the server. We've got this folder structure here, and I can go into the Thomas Frank folder. We have this folder called bang template. I have to bang symbol there, the exclamation mark just because it will force it to be at the top, and then in here, we have a bunch of different folders. We've got animations, audio, footage, etc. When I make a new video, which I can do for you because I know what the next video and TF Explains is, we do 002 Notion Templates, doing a guide on how to use Notion templates. I'm not going to remake all these folders, I'm going to come up to template, select them all, copy them, and paste them. Now, I have my folder structure for this project. This can be done during planning. Then when it's time to dump footage, we know exactly where it goes. It goes into footage. If it's A-roll like this, me talking to you right now, it will go in A-roll. If it's B-roll like cool shots of me holding this plant with a macro lens or something like that, I don't know, they would go in the B-roll. This really helps cut down on some friction in this process. For the third example, let's go over to Premier Pro itself. We added our videos in Premier Pro, but you could do this in any editing program. Essentially, we have what we call a default project. Instead of opening a brand new project for each video, maybe we have our default project that we opened and then we do a ''Save As'' and we save it into the project folder for the video we're working on. This, again, it gives us a head start on the video. In this case, we've got a main content sequence right here, and if I expand this with Tilda, you can see we've already got a whole bunch of tracks set up and a whole bunch of audio tracks set up as well. What that does is it gives us a place to put everything right away. We've got main set audio, we've got voice over audio, I guess, skit audio. We have three different tracks for sound effects. We have a few tracks for music, a few tracks for ambience. If I'm doing heavy sound design on a video, I've already got those tracks set up, and not only that, but if we go to the audio track mixer here and take a look at this, we have effects there, so we've got different plugins in each track. We have different values for the volume on a track. This is basically set up for how I would normally want it. I may have to make small tweaks at the end of the video, but a lot of this doesn't change. Like I usually want to do some light equalization on any background music to cut out some of the low end so it doesn't mess with my talking voice. Then of course, just like with our directories, we have a folder structure or a bin structure that gives us a head start for where to put things. There's a footage thing and it mirrors our folder structure. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, we could probably get rid of this A-Roll and B-Roll Bin and just drag those folders in from Premier and it would create them. We basically have it set up. I will probably keep these here anyway because we've got different B-roll types here. Shots, screen recordings, which I'm doing right now. We've got clips from stock footage sites or from old videos, things like that. This is how we organize our footage, and when you're organized, things run smoothly and smooth is fast. Whatever you're doing, see how you can create shortcuts for yourself. If you are a video editor, get those tracks in a template, get those directories in the template. If you use the same effect all the time, look here we've got a Favorites folder and our Effects panel, and if I open this, I've got all these effects that I use quite often. I use constant gain constantly to use unintended pun, I use crop a lot. I use dip to black, I use exponential fade all the time. Some of these are actually color grading presets. It's an instance of Lumetri Color and you've saved it as a preset and given it a name. Then we have it in a Favorites folder, so I don't have to go searching for it or browsing for it in this whole file tree here that contains everything. That's a demonstration. Again, the general idea here is find ways to build templates into your creative process and be observant while you're creating. Ask yourself, what am I going through again and again and again as I do what I do. Is there any way that I could automate this process? Is there any way that I can cut a step out by building a template? Is there any way that I could build in a shortcut. With that said, we're going to move into the next lesson, which is all about collaboration and delegation, the ultimate shortcut, even though it's quite stressful in the beginning. 7. Collaboration and Delegation: Welcome to lesson 6, which is about collaboration and delegation. Hang on. It's going to be better if you wear this. Okay. Yeah, good. Welcome to lesson 6, which is about collaboration and delegation. No, that's not really it. I guess sometimes you got to do things yourself, but not all the times. In this lesson, as Tony honestly quite eloquently said, we're talking about collaboration and delegation because as a creator at some point in your career, you're going to get to the point where you're, well, successful. You're putting things out on a regular basis, you've got more opportunities coming in and you know how to handle, and you going to have to learn how to delegate, if you want to get to the next level, and you want to be able to keep putting things out at your same level, or do more and also take on opportunities. What we're going to do in this lesson, is talk about some of the lessons I've learned about delegation and collaboration because it has been a difficult process of learning over, not the last probably what, five years, right Tony? Take two years with you, probably five years telling myself I had to delegate. What I want to start out with here is something that's more philosophical than tactical. It's a piece of advice that a friend gave me a few years ago, we were walking around VidCon with my friend Charlie, and he said, "When it comes to delegation you have to ask yourself, what is your art, and what is just your ego?" The context here was, I was insisting on continuing to edit my videos entirely, write my own videos, host them, do basically everything. I was having trouble managing that with my content schedule, but also taking on additional opportunities, like filming a Skillshare class, or like speaking somewhere. He asked me, "What is your art?" Because for us at our channel, like my ability to edit a video isn't my art, my art is in the research process, it is in the speaking process. Other people can edit just as well as I can, if not better, so that is something I should delegate. I had to really ask myself, either dig down, and to know, what is my art? I think it's very similar, it's being able to sit in this chair and talk to the camera, about the things that I'm passionate about, it's doing the crazy research to go and build a gigantic notion formula that most people wouldn't build in their spare time. It's not always in the edit. Sometimes it is, sometimes I get artistic fulfillment through the edit, but not always, and because we're building things on a regular basis, then I need to learn how to delegate that. I've practiced this, I've been working on it, I've got a lot of advice from people over the years, so what I want to do here is share some of that advice, both the tactical and practical. In terms of hiring people, what I have found is that people who are passionate, people who are willing to independently learn things on their own, are almost always going to be better to work with, than people who maybe are technically professions, but they don't care about your mission. This is something that at least I found out. When I am hiring, when I'm evaluating candidates, I'm looking for that. There's a few other things here when it comes to looking for candidates, and this could probably be a class all on its own, but I have found that when I'll put out a Google form, where people can apply for a position that I have out there, I have to make this a PG term, but there are crap test questions. It's like how, I think this was Van Halen I could have been wrong, always wanted only Brown M&Ms in his trailer. Everyone thought this was like the most diva thing but what he was really looking for, was detail oriented nature in the people who are going to be rigging up pyrotechnics, and lights, and very expensive, and sometimes dangerous sound equipment. Somebody who would be detail oriented enough to go to the process of picking out all the Brown M&Ms was likely to be detail oriented with the stuff that actually matters. I will put questions like that on the application process that I build, such as, what is the sixth listed DDR song that Thomas intends to get a perfect score on, on his impossible list. Nobody knows that off the top of their head, but the question gives context clues as to how to solve it, because, they're not in a test room where they can't use their phone. They can use the Internet all they want, so it'd be very easy to google, Thomas Frank impossible list, "Control F" for DDR, and then count the songs. But I can't tell you how many people either didn't answer the question, or said I don't know in the application. What that told me is, I'm not willing to go independently solve a problem on my own. When I'm hiring, I'm looking for people who have the independent problem-solving spirit. In the case of Tony my editor, who I was little bit mean to, for a joke in the beginning of this lesson, he has that spark, he has his own YouTube channel where he's constantly pushing the envelope and that's why I love working with him. He also is always excited when I come up with a new idea for my own channel, instead of being like, well I just do what I do, he's like, yeah let's go ahead and do that, I want to learn something new, that's what I'm looking for. Seek out people who are independent problem solvers, and who are excited to work with you, who want to help you succeed, who want to be part of the mission. In terms of tactical day-to-day delegation, let's get a little bit into that. Again, this could be an entire class here, but we've learned a few things about how to delegate. I talked about my feedback process in the last video about temporization, so I'm not going to go over that again, but I am going to go over how we assign tasks to people, and make sure that they can see what they need to do. Again, here in Notion, we have team workspaces for each person. This one is mine, so it will show projects and progress, that are associated with me. Because I run the entire business, my filter criteria here is pretty much anything, where I'm the editor or the writer on an article, or if it's not an article, almost everything, because I want to see everything that's going on. But I'm the manager. My friend Martin, who works with me as well, he's also very much in a managerial role. For someone like Tony though, let go to Tony's workspace right here. He is not the manager, he's just the editor, so he doesn't need to see as much stuff, he only sees things that he is assigned to. These are all pieces of content where he has been assigned. He can come in here and you can say, okay, well, here's the tasks I'm assigned to, here's a projects I'm assigned to, what are the due dates, what are the publish dates, what are the statuses of each part of the process? I can basically see what I have to do if I'm him, I suppose. That really helps, and whenever we create an instance of a template, we can again just set him as the editor, set me as the writer, or if it's a podcast, maybe I would actually set Anna as the editor because she's the head of our podcasts. With everyone having a team page like this, everyone is informed as to what they need to be doing. We also sometimes have team meetings, so sometimes we will either have everyone over in person, if it's safe to do so and people have time or we'll have remote meetings on Zoom, and we'll just get on the same page. That's all I'm going to say about actually hiring people and delegating work here. This could be the subject of an entire class, let me know in the discussion section of the class if that's something you'd want to see in the future. But what I want to do to wrap this lesson up is talk a little bit about collaboration with your peers, with fellow creators and artists. This is a philosophical part of the lesson, but what I find is that a lot of creators out there, naturally see other people doing the same thing that they're doing as competition. The great thing about being a creator, especially on the Internet where the audience grows day by day, and the amount of niches and little areas that you can get yourself into, they also grow. This is something I'll talk about in the interview with my friend Charles, which will be in the lesson at some point here, is that there's constantly new opportunity. With the growing audience, there are always new people who are going to be hungry for what you are putting out into the world for what you want to say, and the same is true for people who are also in your area creating similar things. The wonderful thing about being a creator is when you collaborate with your peers, it's almost always a win-win scenario. People love to see collaborations between artists that they follow, and knowing a lot of people in the productivity space like Ali Abdaal and Matt D'Avella and Joey Schweitzer from Better Ideas. I find that the people who watch Joey and people who watch Daniel and Matt and Ali, they often watch me as well, they love seeing the collaborations there. It's a win-win-win again, and even if you're covering the same topics, it's almost always a good thing. There's no reason to see it as competition other than to maybe inspire yourself to sharpen your own sword essentially. This actually happened to me last year, when I started watching Matt D'Avella content a bit more, and I got inspired to really up my own game. I felt like I was resting on my laurels production wise before that, and he inspired me to get new camera gear and learn new editing techniques, learn new filming techniques, and I think my content has been a lot better for it. But that is where I try to let the comparisons end, because I don't want to see Matt or Ali or anybody else as competition. I want to see them as peers, people who I can work with, and together we can make our space better. I'd encourage you to follow your peers, reach out to them, interact with them on social networks, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and, maybe propose collaborations, find ways where you can interact and build something that neither of you could make on your own, and your audiences are going to love you for it. 8. Final Thoughts: Well, look at that. You're at the end of the class. Well, congratulations, you've made it through basically all the material that I have to teach you today. Hopefully, you found this class helpful. Couple of things that I want to touch on just sort of review. Number one, think about those metrics that matter to you most. Don't focus on the vanity metrics, focus on those KPIs, key performance indicators. The things that really get you to where you want to be as a creator. Secondly, think about delegation and think about what you could do to improve your own processes through templification; I'm making up another word here. But both of these things, they end in -ation and they're very, very useful to your process. Beyond that, this class is not over. We have at least 30 minutes of additional content coming over the next few weeks in the form of interviews with three of my favorite creators and friends: Jordan Herod, who is an AI researcher at Harvard and MIT, also YouTuber; my friend Ali Abdaal, who has quite a few classes here on Skillshare himself, makes a lot of productivity videos; and my friend Charles Cornell, who is a phenomenal jazz musician and YouTuber. So we've got interviews coming all about their creative processes and how they stay productive as well. Beyond that, one of the things we did in this class is a lot of Notion specific tutorials and demonstrations. If that is something that interests you, I've got a brand new channel over on YouTube called Thomas Frank Explains. You can go over to thomasjfrank.com/explains if you want to check out that channel again right now it is completely focused on Notion. So that's an app that you want to learn more how to use from beginner stuff to very, very advanced stuff. I'm going to be doing tutorials over there. Last but not least, if you have questions, if you have thoughts if you want to add your own experience, head down to that discussion section, and I will be down there interacting with you for the foreseeable future. Thanks again for watching. Thanks again for coming to Skillshare learning, and I'll see you in the next class. Speaking of productivity, I also have a couple of additional classes here on Skillshare. One of them is about building your productivity system. Again, the combination of your task manager, your calendar, your note-taking system, your file management system, which is showed a little bit in the previous video. So if you want to learn how to optimize all of those things, make all those tools work harmoniously so that nothing ever slips through the cracks and your life, check that class out. My second class is all about building strong habits. If you want to learn how to take your goals, break them down into actionable action steps that you can go through on daily basis and then stick to those and make them into long-term habits, check out that class. 9. BONUS: Conversation with Ali Abdaal: Thanks so much for coming back to check out this discussion with our friend Ali. Of course, as you probably know, he's in the UK, so I called him over Zoom to talk about some of the things that we discussed in this class. Hey, Ali. Hey. Thanks for having me on this. This is fun. Welcome to my secret Skillshare podcast. The Secret podcasts, nice. That's very brandable. It's the secret podcasts. We're doing a class all about building a productive mindset for staying creative, essentially productivity for creatives and creators. You're one of the most productive people that I know. You also happen to be quite creative. I wanted to have you and a few other people in this class to just talk about your creative process. What I wanted to start with was what's happened very recently in your life, which is that you are taking a sabbatical from medicine. Before this, your channel was a side projects to a full-time job, which I've had in the past, but haven't had for a long time. How has your process changed since making YouTube your full-time gig? Or going on sabbatical and having only that to worry about. Honestly, I'm really surprised by how little the process has actually changed. This really helped me appreciate Parkinson's Law in Action. I found that when I was working a full-time job in the midst of coronavirus, getting home, and then churning out videos, I was actually producing more videos per week than I am now, where I've just got seemingly gallons of free time. It just goes to illustrate that principle that work expands to fill the time that you allocate to it. For example, today, all I had to do was write a voice over for an upcoming vlog. I started doing it about half an hour ago and I still haven't finished it. Now we've got this call but in the morning I was doing a few more things like reading and taking notes from some books which I enjoy. It's those other bits that took a back seat when I was working full time. Now, I found that my production on the YouTube front hasn't really changed. It's just that I now have more margin in my life to do other things that I value. I started playing PlayStation as well recently, got a TV for the first time. All of these normal things that I just didn't do at all when I was juggling the work and YouTube thing at the same time. Do you find yourself justifying thing, or not justifying, almost telling yourself that certain things you would've let go in the production process in the past have to be there? Because one thing I've realized with the free time that comes with doing this full time is, I'll get an idea, then I'll be like, "Oh well, if I don't do that for this video, then the video won't be right." You did an investing video. I saw you post the thing on Instagram stories asking for questions, which I did a couple of months ago on Twitter. I asked for investing questions and I'm like, Ali's asking for questions on investing now, he probably won't have the video out for two weeks. Then it's out three days later. For that video, I'm like, I've been investing for 10 years, but if I don't go read a Random Walk Down Wall Street, that video's going to be a failure for me. I know that when I was working full time, or as a full-time student, I would've just been like, just say what I know, just share what I know, just get it out. I don't have time for that. Are there things like that where you latch on to an idea and then can't let it go? Yeah. This is one place where I look up to you, one among many, because I think your videos are always very beautifully crafted. Yours, and Matt's, and Nathaniel's. I feel like I'm not putting in nearly as much effort into my videos as you guys put in yours. It's an area that I want to improve in. That was what I realized fairly early on while doing the YouTube plus work thing, that the thing that makes, for me, a video that performs well has almost zero correlation with the amount of effort that I've put into it. The things that I found were true were most often that it's just an interesting subject, or just I have no idea why this video is doing well. My strategy is always that, you know what? I'll really think about will adding this thing really add to the video? If it doesn't, it's easy enough to do, we'll do it and if not, we'll think, scrap that, we'll think about it for a future video. Certainly, my production values are less pro than yours are. I think partly because don't bother with all the B-roll, the fancy production that you have on yours. The funny thing is I bet you, if we asked an audience member who watches both of our channels, they might not say that. I would bet a lot of audience would be like, "They're about the same." Yeah. There was something that you said in one of your videos ages ago which was, this might have been in a podcast, you were talking about how, with your podcast, you used to film it from three angles, or two angles. Then you realized that no one actually cares and you just film it from one angle now. I have that in my mind, it's like does anyone actually care if I spend a whole day shooting B-roll for this? Probably not. Let's just get the video and move onto something else. It's something I have to keep telling myself, I'm like, humans, they connect with other humans, so humans want to see human faces. But as the creator, I'm like, the less time my face is on screen, the better because it means I've put effort in and it's like there's mismatch. Yeah, absolutely. I've had too much A-roll for a bit now, I need to have a B-roll shot. You had mentioned things that you cut out of the video because you know they might not serve the audience well. I'm terrible with this. You may have seen that video I did on setting up your environment for the work from home series. Oh yeah. That video was probably going to be twice as long because I had written an entire section on how to make your Wi-Fi as good as possible. I had a section about network sniffers to figure out what channel your Wi-Fi router was on and then you could figure out what your neighbors had. My fiance looks at the script and she's like, you need to cut that out nobody cares. Do you have another person who looks over your scripts ever and tells you to cut things out? Usually, I'm the one cutting things out of the script, because actually for most of my videos now, it's not me that's writing the main script, it's my writer/researcher guy called Angus. Often, I'll look through the script and think does this really need to be in there? When he's editing, he'll do a round of, "Bro, I think this video's too long, we should cut out this middle chunk." I'm like, "Sure, go for it, do whatever you want." Then I'll do a final round of cutting where, on Frame.io, figuring out, is there any bit where I've repeated myself? That's an area that I'm very bad at. That's an area that you are very good at because I think you script your videos more heavily than I do. Everything feels very crisp whenever I watch one of your videos. Whereas with mine, I always like repeating myself, because that's what you do when you're teaching a class, you want to repeat the same point over and over again. It's things like that that through the writing, script checking, filming editing process, will get chopped out overtime. Getting back to people writing scripts for you, how do you delegate that? What's your process? You know that I get into Notion as much as you do, so feel free to get into the Notion stuff. Absolutely. Can I share my screen? Yeah. Let's have a look. I have my videos database, which is very heavily modeled off of your one that you've made a YouTube video about and kindly released the template for. The way we do it, this is going to become the subject of a course I'm working on called The Infinite Content Engine, which explains how all this stuff works. The top-level overview is, we've got our databases of all of the ideas, which are usually either blank or tagged with idea in Notion. So we've got 145 of these right now. We've got this writer column. For example, the videos that I do about books are a decent model for this, so Think Like a Monk. We're doing one about Think Like a Monk, and status is ready to film. We have title thumbnail, and script is the one that Angus has written. He'll just write the whole thing. Initially, it started off as just a continuous prose, but now, he defines voice-over, A-roll, B-roll, then we will do this overhead sketchpad thingy. He actually tells me exactly what I have to do, which is quite nice. It's like someone else is telling me what to do, and I will look through that and that would then be my default thing, but if I want to change it, I'll just change it on the fly, and they'll figure it out in post. You have that there, do you have any forms of checklists that people have to go over, or does everyone just know what they have to do? Everyone knows what they have to do. I did copy your checklist, this one, uploading and publishing checklist. I'm not sure anyone ever used it, but generally, it's the same process for everything. I know we probably should use checklists, because checklist manifesto, it's obviously a good thing to do, it's just that no one bothers with it so far. When I'm uploading, I look at it. It's mainly helpful for things where there's just a million little tasks, and uploading is one of those things. Every so often, I'll forget one. I just make sure I look through it. Like accidentally capitalizing a letter in a sponsor URL, so it doesn't work. Check the sponsor URL every single time before a video goes live, just to make sure. That's a good shot. But I've found that in the past, we've gone overboard with checklists. With Asana, they have sub-tasks. Being the organizer, I'm like, every single action needs to have a checklist item, right? Over time, nobody uses the checklist and everyone just finds that their are assigned tasklist just gets gunked up with a bunch of stuff they're never checking off. I think there's a balance to strike there with using checklists for their intended purpose, but also realizing that when you hire people, you have to trust them because that's their job. Hopefully, if they're good at their job, they would just know how to do it without needing explicit instruction every time. We're right about at the hour mark. Thank you for jumping on doing this with me. Thank you. This has been a lot of fun. I definitely want to interview you for my upcoming one as well. All right. Let's do it. Check back next Friday for a conversation between myself and my friend Jordan Hared, who's a PhD candidate in neural engineering and brain-machine interfaces, and a YouTuber on the side. We'll be talking about how her productivity systems enable her to be creative in both her YouTube endeavors and in her PhD work. 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