Get Productive in Your Creative Business and Achieve Your Goals | Iva Mikles | Skillshare

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Get Productive in Your Creative Business and Achieve Your Goals

teacher avatar Iva Mikles, Illustrator | Top Teacher | Art Side of Life

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Why Productivity?


    • 3.

      Objectives & Goals


    • 4.

      Managing ToDos


    • 5.



    • 6.



    • 7.

      Review & Reflection


    • 8.

      Focus in our age of distraction


    • 9.



    • 10.

      Learning & Study tips


    • 11.



    • 12.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Learn the productivity methods that will help you enjoy your free time feeling accomplished and not worried about the never-ending todo list.

Being productive, managing your time and attention are some of the key ingredients to help you accomplish all your awesome creative projects. Yet, did you know that being productive doesn’t mean doing more in less time?

This class is for all creative entrepreneurs, freelancers, artists, and anyone who is interested in getting inspired and improving their time and tasks management skills.

You will learn:

  • What is realistic productivity
  • Managing tasks and todos
  • Planning
  • Prioritizing
  • Reviews & Reflections
  • Deep work & Focus
  • Routines
  • Mindful self-care 
  • Tips on learning new creative skills

I am super excited to have you in the class! Let’s get productive :)

©️ Copyright Iva Mikles | All Rights Reserved | Class content & structure for educational purposes only

Meet Your Teacher

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Iva Mikles

Illustrator | Top Teacher | Art Side of Life

Top Teacher

I am super happy that you are here! :)

I am Iva (rhymes with "viva"), and I'm a full-time illustrator, teacher, and nature enthusiast.

I love illustration in all its forms and my goal is to bring you to a world full of happiness, color, and wonder in the form of fun and helpful classes.

I'd love for you to have fun while learning, so I always aim for a fun, positive, actionable, and inspiring creative experience with all my classes.

I love when you share you had many "AHA" moments, learned valuable time-saving tips, gained confidence in your skills, and that it is much easier for you to illustrate what you imagine and you are very proud of your finished work.

I want to help you on your art journey with what I learned along the way by ... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Being productive, managing your time and attention are some of the key ingredients to help you accomplish all your awesome creative project. Yet, did you know that being productive doesn't mean to do more in less time? Hi, I'm Eva, and I am creative entrepreneur, illustrator, teacher, and host of the art side of live podcast. For me, productivity is all about keeping the right of work-life balance, spending time I scheduled for work on what is most important in my business and life. A lot of my interest in improving my productivity has developed from the moment when I started working in Lego, and later when I became a creative entrepreneur through managing creative projects big and small. I found out that some tasks have higher priority or need more time than the others, and it really matters where I spend my time to successfully deliver and maintain them. In this class, we will go through my productivity system, which I have improved over time. You get replicate it or adjust it for your own needs. We will talk about managing tasks, prioritizing, planning, deep work and focus, regular reflections, a routine, mindful self care, and also tips on learning new creative skills. We will also look at tools that can help you to stay productive and organized. You are also invited to participate in the class project. Using the methods and tools you will be learning in the class, you can start preparing your next quarter, mouth, and weekly plan so you can get a better grasp on their creative projects. Please share your plans in the project section, even the work in progress, and I'm super excited to see your take on productivity. These class is for all creative entrepreneurs, freelancers, artists, and anyone who is interested in getting inspired and improving their productivity. So you can enjoy your free time feeling accomplished and not worried about never-ending to-do list. I'm super excited to have you in the class. So, let's get productive. 2. Why Productivity?: I can safely say that all of us catch ourselves from time to time saying, I wish I had more time. Unfortunately, time is a limited resource, and all of us get 24 hours a day. In order to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives: there is one key idea of productivity that you should understand before anything else. Productivity in very simple terms: it is about exchanging resources, and in our case, time into desired results, or outcomes, and this is the most important thing you should remember when it comes to productivity. Sounds simple. Right now, you may be asking, what are the desired results? How do I use my time in the right way? Productivity is all about meaningful work towards meaningful goals, your goals. It is not about busywork, and accomplishing as many tasks in a day as possible, getting overwhelmed, and feeling bad about yourself when you do not finish everything on your task list. It is about spending the most precious resource you have, your time on things that matter to you the most. It can be family, work, personal projects, sports, travel. No matter what you want to achieve, it is about using your time on tasks that will steadily move you step-by-step to your desired results. Your desired results are like a lighthouse guiding you through your everyday activities. Knowing them makes your journey half times easier. For example, your desired result might be to launch your own creative projects. Which could support you financially, like, illustrated book, comic book, [inaudible] , online gallery, YouTube channel, podcast, or online course. However, you might be stuck in a inflexible job which requires you to commute long hours, and you might want to switch to a part-time job, or if you can't afford to lose that income because you are paying mortgage, you might want to use the commute time to brainstorm, create, study, or work productively on the projects in your free time. Your lighthouse equals launch my creative project, and it will determine which tasks you need to accomplish, and time you give yourself. There is an indefinite number of desired results you may want to accomplish, and the projects you want to do. There is one thing that makes the difference between the projects done, and those which are collecting dust in the last drawer of your brain. Focus on the things that matter, your deepest desires determine that focus, and how productive you become towards achieving them. Once you realize the key idea of productivity, and you start practicing and experimenting with the productivity method, you realize it becomes part of you. It is something that you do. In the following lessons, we will discuss the methods that we will take your productivity game to the next level, so lets go. 3. Objectives & Goals: [MUSIC] When it comes to your desired results or goals you want to achieve. The single most common mistake I see people making is setting these huge goals which are unrealistic when considering the time and the resources they have available. The inevitable result of the situation is that they get overwhelmed and quit too soon. I was there myself and it's not the best feeling because it makes you feel inadequate and doubting your own abilities. That's why when I talk about being productive, I always start with defining the right goals, and just a note so you don't get me wrong, I don't mean that you should set small goals for yourself. For example, if you want to become a professional, a book author, an illustrator and published 50 children's books in your lifetime, it doesn't mean your goal should be to do just one. By all means, go full speed ahead. If some people say aim for the moon, because even if you miss, you end up among the stars. What I mean is that you should be realistic about when and the how under your unique circumstances, you will be able to achieve your goals. Your unique circumstances are the time you have available considering everything else happening in your life. For example, your life situation, family or single, couple, kids, no kids, living with parents or your own, are you're renting or owning a house, paying a mortgage, paying debt, or your work and social situation like full-time or part-time job, low versus high salary, multiple jobs, spouse with a good salary or spouse studying which you want to support, and the place where you are and the opportunities it provides. Your network of people and the ability to support you if you need or your knowledge, skills and capabilities, or your passions, and many more unique factors to your situation. Considering all of these conditions, your goals should be realistic to your unique situation. When your goal is to become a professional book author and illustrator, you know, you will need to work on your creating, writing, and art skills. You also know you would need to build an audience if you want to self-publish or pitch to a publishing agents who can represent you. You know you will need to plan time for actually creating so you may need to use some of your free time after work or the weekends or change your inflexible job for a part-time job. In order to do that, you would need to save as much money as possible and so on. You can already imagine how these big goals breaks down to smaller goals. We did then break down further and further. This process allows you to break those big, ambitious goals of yours to smaller, more manageable goals that will allow you to work towards them everyday, step-by-step. Do you know the metaphor of the snowball effect. Well, it exactly like that. You start small as these tiny snowball. You can focus on tasks then moving the ball down the hill and in no time the ball moves and start getting bigger and bigger. The point is to keep rolling. As in life there will be bumps on the path of your snowball, but it doesn't matter because you are snowball is already moving down the hill. The bump that causes it to jump, it's just the hank time and it needs to breathe a little. Get a coffee, stretch, you know, the usual, the refresh. Because the moment it hits the ground again and it will, because it's physics, it will start rolling faster and faster. The hardest is the start. But they say that even harder is to know in which direction to start. Your deepest desires, determine your lighthouse and your goals determine your path to that lighthouse. Spend your time first on defining your desired results, your goals, and where you want to get. Don't worry if you don't have a clear answer right now, these process takes time and requires a lot of thinking. You will find some great resources in the project section of the class, so you'll know where to start. In the next lesson we will talk about many ginger to-do list, will see you there. 4. Managing ToDos: To-dos are tasks that come out of breaking your big goals or desired results into smaller manageable goals. To-dos can represent actionable tasks that will help you to move towards these goals. For example, if your goal is to become a professional children's book illustrator and you're already an artist who knows the art fundamentals, you may want to focus on creating a body of work that will be the actual book or should trick agents and publishers. The body of work can be inspired by your favorite books, perhaps drawing them in your style or creating your very own story and illustrating it. For example, let's say you want to create a story about little hedgehog, the beekeeper. Because, why not write or any other story you might think of. Now, one of the immediate goals, depending on your unique circumstances could we be to write and illustrate one chapter per month. In order to do so, you may have to-dos like these; research, subject of beekeeping, interview your uncle John who has a beehive and cares for bees, research the hedgehogs and their peculiarities, research what other books are on the market and so on. You may have noticed the pattern all of these to-dos fall under the smaller goal to finish research about the beekeeping and hedgehogs. You can use it in writing your story and illustration. You may have many to-dos like this, depending on how many projects you have at any given moment and the easiest way to deal with them is to write all of them down, clarify their purpose, organize them and plan when you will take care of them and review them. There are three most important things I have learned about to-dos and to-do list over the years. Everybody has their own system. Some people love traditional to-do list, like pen and pencil with paper and some are really into digital. I like both. Well, I am an artist and I also appreciate the value of data. I don't want to lose my notes and plans just because I forget my notebook in a cafe or at home if I'm in a co-working and so on. The most important point here is that it needs to be easy for you to enter the tasks. If you're running errands and to-dos just come up and you're just driving or you do something where and when you can't write down or you just don't have a notebook with you or number of things just say, ''Siri add note'' or, ''Hey, Google add note.'' In regards to the tools, I use bullet journal in my mollusk in notebook with pens and colorful pencils for highlights and Copic markers for highlighting. Also sometimes stickers just for fun. Digitally I use Google Docs which is part of Google Drive because they are very easy to use and the pricing is quiet affordable. Every task needs to go on your to-do list; work, life, sports, travels, shopping list and so on. As a productivity guru, David Allen said, ''Your mind is for having ideas not holding them." Before when I didn't know the system, I always made a mental note and only a few hours or days later having these nagging feeling, I think I forgot something and it's really annoying feeling to have and there is a simple medicine for that. Write it down. From that moment, I note every idea, every to-do, basically anything that comes up and it requires my attention. For some projects, especially the client projects, I use note templates for the briefs and discovery stages. Organize and review regularly. All the notes taking from the point to means very little if you don't actively work with it. I imagine that overwhelming feeling when you are looking at the to-do list of a 100 tasks, where do you start, right? I worked with my to-do lists and to-dos on a regular basis. Most daily, weekly at the minimum. I usually organize everything and anything that I put into my notebook into categories based on where they fall into the projects and life. Based on my working capabilities at any given moment. For example, when I travel to meet clients, I use public transportation and there is no Wi-Fi. I don't use mobile data on purpose so I am not online all the time. Either sketches and explorations on my iPad Pro or listen to download the podcast episodes or audiobooks. This is my no laptop or no Wi-Fi list. If I need to take notes, I write them into the Notes app and then import them into the computer in the Office with the AirDrop which is quiet easy. Then I have a list for a co-working space where there are more distractions than at home so I use it to network, discuss ideas and socialize. You get an idea. You can have as many columns as you like as you see here, I have also home column where I write down notes and things I need to do at home, so I don't have to keep them in my mind. As I mentioned in Lesson 3, it all comes down to your specific circumstances, so don't let the technology and the environment get in your way of using your time productively. This can allow you to keep on top of everything and not getting overwhelmed later on. I remember it was very hard at the beginning to get used to this system. But the more you do it, the more it becomes part of you and the best thing, a well organized to-do list means you don't have to think about what to do next. You are just focused on doing your tasks and moving towards your desired results. Because I love checking of tasks that I accomplish, it's a small victory then for me even though when I finish something important which is not on the to-do list, I write it down so I can pick it off. I am rewarding myself. I'm increasing my sense of accomplishment, which means that I am looking at, look how much I have done. Instead of, look how much more I have to do and I haven't finished everything. Like many important things, this is all about the voice in your head. It's important to manage your expectations so you don't become disappointed in yourself. In the next lessons we will talk about very privatization planning and reviews. See you there. 5. Planning: When it comes to prioritization and planning, I follow the rules I have tried and tested over the years. I have collected different approaches from companies, clients, podcasts, friends, and my own trial and errors. Here are the things that work to the best for me and may work well for you too. I learned to always plan in a sense of inverted pyramid. These are desired results in my life on five-year scale to yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly plans and priorities. The five-year plans are the most important things I want to achieve in my life, career, project and desires, is this small exercise I learned from the book, "Will It Fly" from Pat Flynn and it's called the airport test. When creating your five-year plan, imagine you are in the future in an airport and you run into your old friend who you haven't seen in five years because you both moved into different locations and now you can imagine your friend would ask you, "So how is life?" and you would say, "It's really good". Now, try to answer why it's so great. Visualize all the great things that have been happening in your private and professional life that makes your life super awesome. Do you have your dream career or did you paid off your debt, or did you find love, or did you get married? Did you have a baby or two? Did you move to your own house? Or do you work at a super awesome, great company which you dream about where you have all these amazing people around you? Or your project took off and you are now financially independent. Did you travel to many of those awesome places you always wanted to Visit? Write it all down. It will create so much clarity in your life because now you can focus on things that really matter to you and take your time doing this exercise. When I did it, it took me a couple of days to finish. After all, it's going to be five years of your life. Once you have this five-year plan finished, it's time to plan out each year, which will bring you step by step to your, "My life is great" moment. This is the first step to break down your desired results to smaller, manageable parts. A year has 12 months and there is a ton you can do, and you should be strategic about it. Using the same example from previous chapters, if you want to become a profession on children's book illustrator in five years, you may break the five-year goal into five big goals. For example, year 1, to build the body of work, for year 2, get a professional and reliable agent you would like. For example, for year 3, find the professional publisher and for year 4, work on the book and for example, year 5, can be for publishing. Of course, you would come up with your own example. This is just a basic example. Depending on your unique situation, you may be able to finish things more quickly and have, let's say, three books published by year 5. Once you are done with the years planning, you can start planning the 12 months ahead. What works for me the best is actually to do quarterly and monthly themes. I separate the year into four quarters, each having three months starting in January and then each quarter and month has a theme. For example, if we continue with the professional children's book illustrator as an example and our first year is about building a body of work, our first quarter may be dedicating to do research. Using the example from a lesson 4 about the hedgehog and the beekeeper, you may want to dedicate the first month of January to making research about bees and beekeeping, learning as much as possible about them, writing down and illustrating any ideas and inspirations that come during the process. In February, you can focus on hedgehogs and their special peculiarities, expanding your body of work along the way, keeping a sketchbook and maybe in March you can put everything together and sketch more the concrete ideas, layouts, outlines, and so on. Did you notice how suddenly everything got broken down into manageable parts and you can already imagine it? Now, you might be thinking that's too slow or too fast. With such as speed, I won't be able to achieve anything. Yet again, you should plan based on your own unique circumstances. You may be fortunate to be able to work on your desired results full-time, which gives you much more capacity to focus on your task. On the other hand, you might already have a full-time job and you only have evenings and weekends to work on this. Or maybe you have kids, in which case you only have few hours per week to do this. It all depends. The point is to break down the big, ambitious, but at the times overwhelming goals into smaller parts, which you can do one at a time, gain a sense of accomplishment, which will motivate you to continue working on your dreams. Remember the snowball effect. There is also one very important variable which comes to play when you are planning, your life. I mean, unexpected events, they happen and they don't care about your plans. Be mindful about it because when you plan, you are planning with the status quo. Considering time, always plan with the buffer as an extra time because sometimes things take longer than expected. Be mindful that things constantly change or can change in an instant. Be ready for this and keep the flexibility in your mind when planning. Especially, take care of your expectations' management and keeping motivated is a huge part of being productive. Once you theme your quarters and months, it's time to theme your weeks and days. Here is where it becomes a little tricky because you need to be quite flexible and adjust as needed. The following method may help you though. Weeks and days is when you start being dependent on events and other people who are directly or indirectly involved with your tasks. As mentioned, life can happen and you may get a flu, or your car brakes, or there is a huge storm and you would lose electricity or internet connection. The people you work with have their lives too and they deal with similar things as you do, so there can be unexpected circumstances too. When planning your weeks and days, you should be mindful of these variables and be flexible with your plans. That's why I usually plan in the rule of three only. Those are the three most important things I want to achieve in every week and every day. At the beginning of each week, I ask myself, what are the three things that will make this week or day great? These three things are always connected with a big picture of years and five-year plans and unique circumstances of the week or a day. I fully focus on accomplishing them and if I manage to do more, that's great. But if I don't, I analyze why in the review sessions, which I will talk about in a later lessons. In the next video, I will tell you how you could prioritize so your plans become even stronger. So see you there. 6. Prioritization: So how can you prioritize and choose which three things to focus on on a weekly and on a daily basis? On a higher level, you know what is important because you already know about your desired result. So you can always imagine them as your lighthouse when doing your planning. On a weekly and daily basis, you can prioritize in terms of deadline urgency and dependency. Deadlines determine when tasks are due. For example, if you work with a client and they are launching a campaign on a defined date, you would need to set a delivery date. So let's say a week or two prior to the event, to allow for a feedback and the revisions. Urgency is all about how far the deadlines are, tomorrow, in a week or in a month. This allows you to set urgency tag on your tasks. Obviously, what needs to be delivered tomorrow is more urgent than what needs to be delivered in a month. So that's easy to decide. We'd well-worked out plans and reviews though, you will eliminate most of the, can you do this tomorrow? Situations anyway. So the deadlines become more manageable. Dependency is something when you are dependent on other people's processes and they are dependent on yours. For example, you met an interesting client and the convention or a meet up and you have a great conversation about their project. By a great chance they have been looking for someone like you for ages. So congratulations. They ask you to follow up with them and send them a proposal. Now, without you sending the proposal, nothing will move forward. So despite the plan tomorrow for other tasks, you have to do this one first because it requires a longer processing time. You already know that you are flexible like these only because the task of sending a proposal to the client falls into your plan of reaching the desired end result. Thinking about dependency also helps with dealing with e-mail, for example. If you know somebody needs your feedback because otherwise they can't move forward, you would prioritize answering them over other emails. In regards to planning and prioritization in my days, the most helpful thing I learned is to do energy-based instead of time-based planning. Energy-based planning is all about paying attention to your body, so you notice when you feel and actually are more productive throughout the day. Those periods when everything is easy and feels like a breeze, that's your highest energy state. You have probably heard of you're a morning person or a night owl, that goes into the same direction because it identifies when you feel the best. For example, I am a morning person and I focus the best in the mornings. So I take care of the tasks that would require the most of my brainpower, first thing in the morning. So identify and use your highest energy state for doing the most important tasks and use the low energy state for doing activities that needs to be done, but you don't need the highest mental capacity. Time-based planning is all about events happening at certain times because of outside circumstances. For example, you may need to go to evening classes at 7:00 a.m. or you have a call with the client at 4:00 p.m. Now, except the time boundaries by external systems, like the event classes scheduled for bigger groups of people, you have a certain level of control over your schedule based on their energy levels. Try to work with those when prioritizing time-based events. Other people are usually not so inflexible to say outright no to you or into your request. So ask first and adjust second. This brings me to another idea I already mentioned before, theming. Besides theming your quarters and months, theming your days in a week is a helpful as well as prioritization. I learned this from theme fairies who was broadcast that I used to listen to a lot. For example, he records his episode only on Mondays. Those are his recording days. If a guest can make it, for example, these Monday, they can only try one of the following Mondays. This is such a great rule because it puts you in the right state of mind for the whole day and you are much more productive because you are not switching among the tasks. So do you, for example, work on a multiple client projects and they all ask you to schedule checking calls on the different days. What you can do, you can ask your clients to do all of them in one day. I mean, the checking calls. Then you can call these day and checking them. So look at your schedules and try to identify patterns in your tasks and I am sure you will be able to see what tasks are similar and you can prioritize them together. But there is one small issue with this approach though, when it comes to creative work. Creativity is not something you can switch on and off, or it can be very hard. Sometimes you just wake up and you don't feel the best, or you just don't feel particularly creative. Now let's talk about your create day. When you plan to draw and create what then in such a situation, what helped me is to theme two or three days in a week, which aren't flexible and I don't feel them with activities which depend on others. This helps me to be more flexible and either need to reschedule meetings and calls with others. If I wake up feeling bad, and I have no mood to create. That's okay. I just switched those two days and focus on other non-creative tasks. For example, simple video editing where I already have a system, so I don't have to be ultra creative. So for example, doing those, I usually get back to my feeling better self and then the next day I am ready to create. One last thing before we move on to the review. If you have a chance to delegate some of your tasks, it helps immensely with prioritization. Delegating means that you identified tasks which are too hard for you to do or you just don't like doing them. So you would need to spend much more time than necessary. Or those tasks which are not that important, however, they need to be done, the paperwork. You could delegate them to your partner or a good friend, or you could hire a physical or virtual assistant. So for example, in your creative business, you might be overwhelmed with your online shop orders, and we didn't number of emails you are constantly getting. You can outsource it to physical or ritual system and they can check your email, categorize the most important ones for you to handle and take care of the rest based on the guidelines you would give to them. Physical ices them can also be, pick up orders with addresses and go to the post office to ship them for you. Now as you can imagine, delegating is very useful way to stay on top of things. In the next lesson I will talk about reviewing your plans and re-prioritizing based on outcomes you achieve along the way, so I'll see you there. 7. Review & Reflection: Doing regular reviews or reflections is like having your fingers on the pulse of your life and projects. They help you to keep a check on things so everything goes as close to your plans as possible and you can adjust or improve if needed. Reviews actually help me to be more mindful about what happened in my personal and professional life. I became more grateful for both the good and the bad that has happened because each helped me to grow and move forward to my goals. I usually do the reviews on weekly and quarterly basis and I connect them with planning as well. It's because I'm fortunate to work on my desired results full-time. If your unique situations allows you to work on your goals only part-time, then a monthly and half-year reviews might be enough. Whatever review frequency you choose, the key is that you actively manage your plans and prioritization so you don't give a chance to feeling overwhelmed. Compared to yearly reviews, this would allow you to be more mindful and flexible if something needs adjusting. Before when I used to do only yearly reviews, I had a hard time remembering all the special moments of for example, January and February because it was so long ago. Plus it was inflexible in regards to small details that needed adjustments. You may also have this feeling, especially when you are creating or you have a big projects going on all the time or smaller projects in between. It's like life has passed you by in very high speed and with all of that happening around you, sometimes is very hard to remember what has happened a few months ago as I said. Doing more frequent reviews and reflections throughout the year will make you remember the moments better and you would be more mindful about everything happening in your life. For example, the feeling of appreciation you got from that old lady you have helped with the grocery bags, for example, or your colleagues when you help to meet the tight deadline with your creative idea. When you enjoy the special sunset with your loved one or when a client send you a special thank you message for an awesome work you did for them. Remembering such moments would give you motivation to go on and work on their dreams more. I usually do quarterly reviews in the last week of each quarter. In March, June, September, and December. It is a longer reflection because they are usually a lot of things that has happened. I do a lot of journaling during quarterly reviews. I reflect on everything in my personal and professional life, general feelings, the ups and downs, the memorable moments, what I learned about myself and the topics that I'm dealing with and other important things. I equally focus on the good and the bad that happened. These type of deep review reveals, if I need to change anything in my life to achieve my desired results, then I write down 10 things I'm grateful for and this helps me to remember all the great things that I have in my life. It helps my mind to focus on a gratitude and keeps me motivated to continue working on my goals. I like this exercise a lot. As you remember from the previous class, I use the rule of three here as well. I look at three wins and three struggles of the quarter and also solutions to those struggles. In this way, I reward myself for all the great accomplishments and at the same time strive to improve in the areas that didn't work out so well and have the potential to be three wins for the next quarter. I finish up the quarterly reviews with planning the next quarter. After the review of the previous quarter is fairly easy because I have a clear picture of what needs to be done going forward. The weekly reviews I do are fairly simple in the structure. What I look at is what worked well or three wins of the week and what didn't work so well or three learnings of the week and what to change to make them better. You can see that the three wins of the week should align with the three wins plan for the week. So it's about checking if everything went according to your plans. As you already know, sometimes life comes into the way and not everything goes as you planned. That's why I also look at what didn't work so well and try to list three learnings of the week. I don't stop there though. I immediately try to come up with ways to improve things for the future and use them for the plans. These type of reflection really helps with keeping you aware and mindful about the things that are happening around you. In the next lesson, we will talk about the focus in our age of distractions and how to get most out of it. See you there. 8. Focus in our age of distraction: If setting objectives, managing your to-do list, planning, prioritization, and review is half of the productivity of success. The focus is definitely the other one. Focus allows us to get the most important things done quickly and in the proper quality so we then have to redo them later. There is one key thing I learned about focus and productivity over the years, and that is refocusing and it is as good as killing your focus completely. Little things like phone notifications or somebody asking you something or loud and sudden noises or my favorite multitasking, all of these can take away your attention, focus and decreases your productivity. That's why I learned to schedule time periods of deep work when I switch off all the distractions in the devices and environment, and I fully focus on one task at hand. Deep work is defined as a state of a flow when you're able to fully focus on one task at hand, time flies and you can achieve so much. When I schedule time for deep work, the phone goes into the plane mode. I have my water bottle filled, I eat before, so I don't get hungry and I tell everybody at home that now I will be focusing. So unless it's super urgent, they shouldn't disturb me. When I'm in the co-working space, I usually put my noise canceling headphones on, which is usually a good signal to people around me that I'm super focused. Establishing these routine of deep work throughout the day was not easy because I'm talkative and I like to socialize. But once I understood more about it and explained it to everybody around me it helped. After all, deep work helps me to get things that matter done faster so I can spend more time with people I care about and I can do more in one hour and talk with others during the breaks. It's like my mini reward. When I'm at work, I focus on work and when I'm with my family and friends, I focus on them. It's a win-win. There is one great tip I have for you in regards to focusing. I actually found out that when I listen to my favorite music on Spotify while trying to reach the state of deep work, it didn't work for me that well. You know the situation your favorite song comes on and you know the lyrics, so you start humming and maybe even singing and this actually not good when you really want to focus. That's when I discovered focus at the wheel and it's scientifically created music that works with the brain waves in order to help with focus and energy levels, I will put a link to it in the project section so you can check it out if you like it, and you can try it out and get a free trial. I personally like the creative cafe or focus cafe tracks and when I feel tired, I use up-tempo and that always gets me up. Focusatwill also helps me to keep using the Pomodoro technique, which is all about setting your timer to 40 minutes or 20 minutes, depending what works for you the best and this would be a deep work and five minutes of a break in between. This technique helps a lot with breaking your tasks into manageable parts and Focusatwill allows me to set the timer for, for example, 25 minutes at a time and that is super useful for me. So you can check these out as well to see if that would be a good fit for you. In the next lesson we will talk about routines and why they are so helpful. So see you there. 9. Routines: I first learned about routines when I read the book, Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod. I heard unsampled casts that how you start your morning can make or break your day. Also around that time, I felt that I had to make some changes to improve. The book simply, the routines are the processes we define in our life and the projects that allow us to fully focus on the task at hand without being distracted and wasting time with the thoughts about what to do next. This helps with the productivity a lot. The most important point through all of these is not to have whatever routines, but the ones that move you forward and they need to add value to your day. Let's take the Miracle Morning routine as an example. Hal Elrod smartly explains it as an acronym, S-A-V-E-R-S, because it actually saved his life. S stands for silence and also known as meditation. A stands for affirmations or encouraging words you would tell yourself each morning to achieve your goals. V stands for visualization, which is all about visualizing yourself achieving those goals step-by-step and feeling the success when you do so. E stands for exercise. R stands for reading. S stands for scribbling, or better said, journaling when you write down your thoughts, so you become more self aware and conscious of your mind and feelings. He claims that the activities can be all done in six minutes. One minute for each and is enough. When you start to get into the routine of the Miracle Morning, six minutes works like a charm. The whole idea of the Miracle Morning is that you spend approximately 30-45 minutes every morning preparing yourself physically and mentally for the day ahead. How it works for me, is that first I read approximately for 10 minutes anything from business books to biographies. Then I quickly exercise for about 10 minutes to wake up and get the blood and oxygen flowing, and then I do affirmations, visualization and journaling. I actually also do a gratitude journaling, listing three things that I'm grateful for and three things that will make the day awesome. These makes me celebrate the small wins during the day and be mindful of the present moment. Lastly, I meditate with a guided meditation, and I use either Calm or Headspace app on my iPad. The meditation helps me to be more self-aware and I enjoy all the moments in my life not worrying as much as before. My other routines I follow are specifically connected with client projects set up, theming my weekdays, yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly planning and review my art process, my weekly grocery shopping group routine, choosing clothes for occasions and my daily exercise routines. I do p90x from Tommy Horton if you are interested, and also my breakfast routine. As you can see, I try to process as many tasks as possible to be able to fully focus on them. One thing I want to mention is that these routines work for me and how I set up my life. For you something else might work very well, maybe cleaning up your working space, bumping up the volume on your favorite song before you start working or going for a run or walk every morning. Your routine may be also drinking tea or coffee, or journaling or doodling before you start your creative day. We are all individuals and it's quite important that you try different routines before you settle on what feels the best for you. In the next lesson, I will talk about learning and study tips related to creative activities such as arts, design, but also music and creative writing and others. See you there. 10. Learning & Study tips: [MUSIC] When learning and improving my creative skills, sometimes I had to be fairly quick and productive in order to deliver quality work in jobs for clients. Here are a couple of helpful things I learned throughout my artistic career. One of the first things I want to mention is to create what you love. While learning, make sure you create what you really like. For example, you're learning the fundamentals of anatomy, and you really like to draw a cute female characters, who said you have to draw anything else? Go ahead and practice drawing them as much as possible. Learning is hard so don't make it harder on yourself by learning on subjects you don't really care about. You can take on those later on. When I was learning how to improve in the drawing backgrounds, I looked at tons of images of beautiful gardens, flower beds, and anything to do with plants because I really like them, and it surely helped me to overcome those moments when I feel low and I didn't have the mood to learn or create at all. The next thing is to be aware of how you learn. We don't progress much, we're just practicing. We also need to understand the concepts we want to practice, so to learn and improve. For example, when I studied the color and light in art, I looked at many art works of Old Masters and studied them to the smallest detail. I asked and researched a lot of questions in a sense of why, why did they do it like that, or why did they do it like this and so on. It's called conscious learning. If I couldn't find an answer on the internet, I would found books explaining everything about color and how it interacts in different conditions. Albert Einstein once said that when he worked on a problem, 95% of his time he spent on defining the right problem and then only 5% solving it. That's because once you know what you are dealing with, the solution comes much easier. The same goes for learning. Constructive thinking and understanding the subject makes learning much easier. Next part is daily work and quantity trumps perfection. In order to learn quickly, you got to show to be creating and practicing every day, even if it is only for 10 minutes. Once you understand the concepts in the field you are studying, you have to create a huge body of work. These creeds routine of creating daily, which means it becomes part of you, and what is more important, you will get those 1000 bed pieces out of your system and paved your way to the mastery one day at a time. This daily habit of creating will also help you during the bad days. Let's face it, some days are just bad and you don't feel well at all. That's okay, it's biology in action. Plan with those days beforehand and make a promise to yourself that you will practice for 10 minutes at least. You don't have to make something great. You can just do studies and you definitely don't have to post a polished piece on a social media. This will be just for you. There is one more bonus. Once you develop the routine of regular daily work, the clients and employers will love your working ethics and sticking to deadlines. Actively seek feedback in order to get better quickly. Ask nicely for feedback from people who are aware you want to be. Asking for feedback can be very easy if it is your own family, and it surely helps your psychology. But giving constructive feedback from your role models is the best thing to move you forward. Try to actively seek out people who can help you the most. Those are the ones who are where you want to be in the future. There is a very good chance you can meet them either at conventions or in a physical or online art school or on social media. Don't be afraid and just reach out. Some of them might not have time right away, but with the proper persistency and follow-ups, you never know, so always follow up. In the next lesson, I will talk about self-care and time off, which might sound counterintuitive if we talk about productivity, but you will understand why I included it. See you there. [MUSIC] 11. Self-care: As I mentioned in the previous lesson, you might be wondering why I put self-care and time-off into the class about productivity. Well, it's simple, if your mind and body are not in the right state, no productivity method in the world will help you achieve your most important goals. For example, if I don't sleep enough or don't exercise regularly, or if I don't take time off, minimum one day during the week, my productivity levels start to go down very quickly. What is it worth in the big picture of things? If I don't rest, I can't be productive, then I have to catch up, and I don't have time to rest, so it becomes quickly a downward spiral. I fully focus on the work when I have to, and I relax as much as possible when I can. There are no compromises in this area. I like the combination of active and passive relaxation depending on what's happening around and whether I feel lazy. My most favorite ways to relax are meeting with friends in a cube and visually inspiring cafes and sketching there on my iPad on other times. Then watching a good movie or nature documentaries and also walks in the nature itself. What is great that while you take the time off and remove yourself from the work, besides recharging your gain new perspectives and find solutions to things which are difficult. Your subconscious mind is always on and solve these things for you. It's almost like that scene from the movie Doctor Strange if you've seen it, when he sleeps, his spirit reads a book that would be called a double productivity. There is also time off I take daily, and it only lasts 10-20 minutes, and it's a guided meditation. I do it as a part of my morning routine or in the evening before going to sleep. It's quite an effective way to take time off on a daily basis and prepare for the day ahead or sleep better. It helps me to get into the right frame of mind directly in the morning, and as I said, if I do the meditation in the evening, for example, if you have a stressful day or you can't stop your mind from racing, it can help you relax and fall asleep much faster. If you don't like meditation or you think it's not for you, there are also other ways to relax your mind and become more mindful. For example, you can spend time in the nature and focus on everything beautiful it has to offer, or you can just sit quietly for a few minutes and focus on your breath, you can pray, you can do yoga, listen to calming music, or even clean your living space. We are all unique, and it's up to you what relaxation and mindfulness technique you would choose. In the next video, I will recap the most important lessons about the productivity, and I will introduce the class project, so see you there. 12. Final Thoughts: Congratulations, you finished the class. I hope you are now full of ideas on what productivity techniques to implement and adjust your to unique situations. Now, I would like you to apply what you've learned and using the methods I mentioned, prepare your next quarter, month and weekly plan so you can get better grasp on their creative project. Please share your results in the project section, even the work in progress. I'm super excited to see your take on productivity. Remember, productivity is all about meaningful work towards your meaningful goals. Define your desired results first, break them down into smaller manageable goals and move steadily towards them one day at a time. If you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to write a comment in the community section. Thank you so much again for taking this class. Don't forget to subscribe to get notified when I release new classes and until next time keep creating and making what you love. Bye and see you soon.