Productivity for Creators: Systems, Organization & Workflow | Ali Abdaal | Skillshare

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Productivity for Creators: Systems, Organization & Workflow

teacher avatar Ali Abdaal, Doctor + YouTuber

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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.

      Welcome to the Class


    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      Why You Should Start a Side Project


    • 4.

      What Side Hustle Can I Start?


    • 5.

      How to Make Time in Our Busy Lives


    • 6.

      How to Get Motivated


    • 7.

      The Power of Identity Change


    • 8.

      How to Be More Efficient With Our Time


    • 9.

      When Quantity Matters More Than Quality


    • 10.

      How to Stay Consistent


    • 11.

      How to Deal With Failure


    • 12.

      How to Never Run Out of Ideas


    • 13.

      The Power of Parallel Processing


    • 14.

      How to Refine Your Ideas With Templates


    • 15.

      The Power of Productive Downtime


    • 16.

      The Power of Productive Procrastination


    • 17.

      Wrap-up Lesson


    • 18.

      BONUS: Thomas Frank Interview


    • 19.

      Exclusive Bonus Materials


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About This Class

In this third class in my series on productivity, I’m focusing on creators. As a creator myself with numerous different projects contributing towards my business, I’m frequently asked how do I manage all these interests efficiently and effectively. In other words, how am I so productive as a creator?

My FREE Skillshare Bonus Resources
As I mentioned in the course, I’ve now made a bunch of free resources for all of my Skillshare classes, exclusively for my Skillshare students. They’re packed with additional course-related content for every class, and will help you refresh what you’ve learnt, as well as explore some of the other classes you haven’t taken yet. Check it out here.


I’ve already got two classes on Skillshare relating to productivity but this class will specifically explore productivity for creators in more depth. Throughout the class I’ll be sharing various strategies, tools and techniques that I’ve used to help manage my time, attention and ideas which are three key pillars to consider when setting up your own creative side hustles or levelling up the projects that you’re already working on.

We’ll start by discussing why you should start a side hustle and, perhaps more importantly, what side hustle can you start. I’ll talk through five questions that you can ask yourself to answer the latter question which should hopefully enable you to identify exactly what your side-project should focus on.

Next we’ll move on to talking about how to actually make time for our side hustle within our existing busy lives. This is where we’ll focus on things such as how to be efficient and effective with our time as well as how to stay motivated in the long term and deal with set-backs and failures. I’ll discuss my theory of quantity over quality as well as the techniques I use to prevent myself from running out of ideas.

Finally, at the end of the class, there’s a 30-minute discussion with my friend Thomas Frank who runs a very successful YouTube channel and an equally successful blog. We talk about all the key aspects of running a successful side project, the issues that we’ve had to overcome in our journeys and the advice we’d give to new creators.


Who am I?

My name is Ali - I'm a doctor working in the UK, and on the side I make YouTube videos about medicine, tech and productivity. Productivity is probably the issue I get asked most often about on my YouTube channel and across social media. Through reading books, blog posts, articles as well as experimenting with numerous techniques myself over the years, I feel that I've developed a bit of knowledge about productivity and that's why I've decided to put together this extensive series of Skillshare classes to share my own knowledge in the realm of productivity and hopefully help us all work towards living happier, healthier and more productive lives.


Other Useful Links:

My website / blog -
My weekly podcast -
Weekly email newsletter -
Instagram -
Twitter -
Facebook -

Camera Gear -
Keyboard - Wireless Coral mechanical keyboard (Cherry Blue) -
Favourite iPad Screen Protector - Paperlike -

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ali Abdaal

Doctor + YouTuber

Top Teacher

Hi there,

I'm Ali, a YouTuber, podcaster, entrepreneur, and online teacher. I graduated from medical school at the University of Cambridge in 2018 and worked as a doctor for two years. Now, I live in London, spending my time making videos, doing podcasts and writing my first non-fiction book.

I started my YouTube journey in 2017, making videos about study techniques and my medical school experience. The channel grew dramatically over the next few years, and I started making videos about broader topics like productivity, wealth, and how to lead a happier, more fulfilled life. This journey on YouTube, along with my love of teaching, led me to where I am now with a wide range of courses on Skillshare.

If you'd like to find out more, please do follow my Skillshare profi... See full profile

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1. Welcome to the Class: Whether we're students, employees, entrepreneurs, or all three, we generally need to squeeze our creative side hustles into our spare time on evenings and weekends. Hey, everyone. My name is Ali. I'm a doctor working in the UK, and on the side I run a seven figure online education business and a YouTube channel which has just hit 1.5 million subscribers. I also write a weekly blog, I host a weekly podcast, and I'm in the process of writing a book. With all of this stuff going on, the commonest question I get is, how are you so productive? I've already got two whole classes on Skillshare exploring my philosophy, my strategies, and my tools around productivity generally, but in this class we're going to be focusing specifically on productivity for creators. Throughout the class, I'll be sharing various strategies and tools to help us manage our time, attention, and ideas. These are the things that I found most helpful when it comes to setting up my own creative side hustles from scratch or for leveling up the projects that I'm already working on. Honestly, there's nothing special about me in the slightest. I've just picked up lots of really good productivity tips and tricks from tons of books and podcasts over the last decade of my life. If you take this class, then hopefully you too will be able to learn these tricks and techniques without having to go through all that work, and if you apply them to your own life, your own creative side hustles, you'll either be able to kick-start your side project if you haven't started something yet, or you'll be able to level up the thing that you're already working on. Hopefully, you'll be able to do all of that without having to quit your day job while having fun along the way and while leaving time for rest and relaxation. I've got a ton of other stuff on Skillshare about productivity for entrepreneurs and students, but if this idea about productivity for creators sounds up your street, then I would love to see you on the other side. 2. Class Project: Welcome to the class. Thank you so much for taking this class. In this video, I want to tell you about the class project. Now, because this is a class about productivity for creators, it's about starting or working on your own creative side hustle, that's going to mean different things to different people. We've got a video very early on where we talk about what should your creative side hustle be if you haven't started one yet, and I give you a few ideas. Well, the class project here is, as you're taking this class and as you're applying the principles to your own creative side hustle, do please post a screenshot or a picture of whatever the thing is that you're working on in the project and resources section. For me, what that's going to look like is once I've produced a YouTube video, I'll put a link to it in the project. If for example, you're an artist, I would love to see what kind of sketches you're working on. Just take a photo and stick it on as a project. If you're a writer, it would be great to see your first draft or a final draft of your blog post. Take a screenshot, post a link, stick in the project section. If you're making something physical like knitting or, I don't know, crocheting or like leather working or blacksmithing or whatever, then again, if you can just take a photo of the thing that you've made and put it in the project and resources section. Especially if you haven't started a creative side hustle yet, it's really important that we get into the habit of actually producing stuff. Because the thing with a side hustle is that really it's all about the output. It's not really about how much effort you put into it. It's not about the thinking that went into it. It's about you actually creating something. It's totally okay to do something like have a private journal or have a private sketchbook, but generally when it comes to publishing stuff, if we can put our stuff out there, it just A, it helps us learn much better, and B, it helps us actually get motivated to do the thing even more. Everyone who makes YouTube videos, if we hit ''Delete'' instead of ''Publish'' when we make the video, it would be infinitely less fulfilling than it actually is. Equally for artists, if all of your artwork is in your sketchbook, I've spoken to artists like they say that when they started taking photos and putting them on Instagram, suddenly it made the art actually more fun. That's the class project, please post a picture of whatever it is creative side hustle wise that you're working on, put it in the project and resources section. We'd love to check it out, maybe give you some feedback, maybe give you some encouragement along the way. With that said, let's dive into the class. 3. Why You Should Start a Side Project: Welcome back. In this video, we're talking about why you should start a side project. Now, if you're watching this class, I probably don't need to convince you of it, but just in case you need a little boost to help you get through the inevitable lows that are going to happen. Broadly, I think of the benefits of side projects in three categories. Firstly, it's just really fun. When you start a side project, usually, you want to be working on something that you enjoy. There's a lot of inherent enjoyment in working on something, because we have the autonomy that it's our thing and we're working on it. We have the fact that we're usually building something and a lot of research so shows, and in fact, we don't even need research to tell us this. But we know that when we build stuff, it unlocks an innate part of ourselves that makes us feel good and happy. Often, when we're starting a side project, we're also learning quite a lot, and we know that mastery, learning and this process of leveling up our skills and getting better at something is another huge source of joy in people's life. Yes, starting a side product is fun, but it's fun because of the autonomy, and the mastery, and the purposefulness that it feels to really start something from the ground up and take it seriously. Secondly, let's talk about money. Now, a lot of people start side projects with the intention of making money further down the line. There's no denying, this is a big part of why I started doing side projects when I was very young. I learned how to code, because I wanted to make websites, because I wanted to make a game, because I wanted to use that game to then make money. Now, the problem with money is that, it shouldn't be the first thing on the list, because if you're doing something primarily for the money, it's very easy to lose track of the having fun along the way, and I'm a big fan of the phrase, journey before destination. It's more important that we have fun doing the side project, and that we learn stuff, and that we find it fulfilling, than it is that we make money out of it. Because inevitably, when difficulties are going to happen, if we're just motivated by money, it's not actually going to help us get over those difficulties. With the caveat that in my opinion, money shouldn't be the primary driver of starting a side project, it's obviously a huge benefit if your side project can be successful. Now, the nice thing about a side project is that, it doesn't have to make money. In fact, an obsession with making money from a side project is probably sub-optimal. I think that's a sweet spot in the middle. For example, let's say the side project you want to start is, I don't know, starting a blog, or starting a personal website, or blogging online. You won't really be able to put in the work, because often it takes absolutely ages of doing something consistently to get to a point where it's monetized to a reasonable degree. But having said that, if you're not thinking about money at all, if it's not even in the back of your mind, that's not really how I like to operate, because money ultimately is just an exchange of value, and if we can make money from the stuff that we're doing, it shows that there are other people out there who are willing to give us money because they find value in what we do. I think there's the sweet spot. I like to think I've straddled the sweet spot with all the different side projects that I've had. When I was learning how to code, yes, it was fun, it was cool, and it was interesting, blah, blah. But it was also intended to make money and therefore, the path that I was on, learning how to code, it made me make websites that were more commercially viable than other options, than just doing something for myself. Equally, when I was learning close-up magic, a problem with a lot of magicians is that, I don't know if you're a magician, but a problem with lot of magicians is that we like to sit in front of our webcams and just practice the moves, and never go out there and perform. But because in my mind I knew that from this magic side project, eventually I wanted to make money, I wanted to perform at balls, and parties, and events and get paid for it, that meant the direction I took my magic was more around performing, and less around just learning lots of cardistry and lots of moves. There's nothing wrong with learning lots of cardistry and lots of moves, but ultimately, it's the fact that I went out there into the real world, and put myself out there, and performed magic in front of strangers. That was what gave me a lot of self-growth, self-improvement, because it was stepping outside my comfort zone and that came because I was trying to make money from the thing. That's a long-winded way of saying that money is a factor when it comes to starting a side project, and it's really nice when you've got a side project that's really successful, but don't let it be your primary driver. Just have it in the back of your mind. Finally, let's talk about the impact that you can have with a side project. Now, whatever side project you're going to do, usually involves putting something out there into the world, and therefore, having some impact. This is quite nice. If you start a YouTube channel, or a blog, or an Instagram account, or a podcast, or a TikTok, or something, and you're giving value to people in the form of either entertainment, or education, or inspiration or anything like that, or even just making people laugh, that value is a genuine impact in the world. When you start your side project and as it grows, you're going to get comments from people saying, "Oh my God, this is very helpful, and thank you," and you're going to get DMs, and messages, and e-mails. It's actually quite nice. When you get to a point where your side project is very successful, and maybe you're quite well known for it. These days, if I go into Cambridge town center, chances are, one or two people at least, are going to recognize me, and they'll be like, "Hey, I watch your videos, and this is really cool." I also have this thing where every week, when it's not the pandemic, I station myself in a coffee shop in town, and just have an open invite, that if anyone wants to come and hang out, if they're passing through Cambridge, they can come and have a coffee with me. Because of this, I've met like 200 plus people over the last three years of doing this. Some of them have even turned into friends, and business partners and stuff. It's just generally nice hanging out with people like that, and that's a direct result of the impact that I can have through my side project of the YouTube channel, and of these classes. Overall, if you're looking for reasons to start a side project, fun, money and impact are my top three. With fun being the most important, and money and impact being a result further down the line. Basically, everyone I know who has a side project, finds it one of the most fulfilling aspect of their life. Like with most my side project, I was either a medical student while I started them, or I was literally working full-time as a doctor in the UK's National Health Service while I was doing the side project. I found that I was actually getting more fulfillment out of my side projects than I was in saving lives as a doctor. Being a doctor is one of those things that we think should be fulfilling and meaningful, but I was getting more meaning and fulfillment from my side project, from teaching people online, from teaching people in real life. I don't know. Maybe it's just me, but I think that's the power of the side project. It means in a way that you diversify the sources of meaning in your life so that we're not just reliant on our jobs to give us our meaning, or a salary, we can also get the side project to give us a dose of meaning, and a dose of money if we want. That's why you should start a side project, 100 percent recommend it. Thanks for watching, and I'll see you in the next video. Bye bye. 4. What Side Hustle Can I Start?: All right. In this video, we're talking about what creative side hustle can you start? The short answer to this is whatever you want. There are so many different options out there to start a creative side hustle, you could start a blog, you could start a YouTube channel, you could learn to draw, you can start a podcast. You could become a web designer, you could become a graphic designer. You can specialize in making YouTube thumbnail banners and stuff for people. A lot of this is the stuff that I was doing when I was younger. When I was in school, I was a graphic designer and a web designer and a web developer, these were creative side hustles that I started. I doubled with a bit of digital illustration. I got one of those Wacom Bamboo Tablets, this was in the days before iPads existed and tried making drawings of things to publish on the Internet, they weren't very good. If you're watching this class which is productivity for creators, chances are you probably have a reasonable idea of what sort you would like to start but if you don't have any ideas at all, one thing I would suggest is maybe consider starting to write online. You start a blog or start an email newsletter or both, and just writes whatever you want to write about on the Internet. One of my friends, David Perell has a fantastic blog post called The Ultimate Guide to Writing Online. He writes that writing online is the fastest way to accelerate your career. It's the best way to learn faster, to build your resume, to find peers and collaborators who can create job and business opportunities for your content builds on itself, it compounds and multiplies. Day or night your content searches the world for people and opportunities, project, mentors, speaking gigs, job offers, pitches, investment opportunities, interview requests, podcast appearances and invitations to special events. It all starts with sharing ideas online and here's the good news, you already have the tools to write online. You know how to read and write, and you have access to the Internet which means you can create and distribute your work to the world at a low or zero cost. I'll put a link to this essay in the project and resources section. It gives you a lot more information about how to start writing online. For me, writing online was my first actual creative side hustle which ultimately, completely changed my life because it led to a whole host of interesting opportunities further down the line. Because I started writing online in 2016, that made me comfortable with the idea of putting myself out there. If it hadn't been for starting my blog in 2016, I don't think I would have ever started my YouTube channel which I did in 2017 and that YouTube channel is completely changed my life and is the reason why I'm sitting here filming this class. If you don't like the idea of writing online, if reading and writing aren't your thing that's totally okay. You could start a YouTube channel, you could start a podcast and here on Skillshare there are zillions of classes on all other creative side hustles that you can start. If none of those seek your fancy, then that's okay. Not everyone needs to be a creator and not everyone needs to have a creative side hustle. If you don't like the idea of it, then don't do it just because you probably should. If you don't have that internal drive to want to start something or if you're just starting something because you're like, I want to earn money through something and I want it to be easy. You're probably not cut out for this creator side hustle pathway and that's okay, not everyone is. But if you're watching this class, that's probably not the position you're in. You're probably want to start something or you've started something already and you want to be more productive at doing it and really, when it comes to figuring out what side hustle you should start, the main advice is just pick whatever you like and then turn that into a side hustle. Gary Vaynerchuk has fantastic advice which is around monetizing your passions. To be honest, if it's something that you're really struggling to make time for, you are playing on hard mode, you're fighting an uphill battle, like when I started writing or when I started my YouTube videos or web design or any of the other creative side hustles I've done, it wasn't really a struggle to make time for it because I enjoyed the thing. If you said Ali, start the creative side hustle in knitting, I don't know anything about knitting, I'm not sure I would enjoy it, maybe I would, maybe I wouldn't be like. If I didn't enjoy knitting and I was just doing it for the sake of making money, I would never do it because if I'm not having fun, we're just not going to do the thing, we're just going to end up on Netflix or chilling on social media instead. Whatever you're doing, whatever you enjoy doing with your spare time, the thing you find yourself gravitating towards when it's the evening and you're on your phone or on your computer, the thing that you find yourself thinking about in the shower, those are interesting things that you could if you wanted to turn into a creative side hustle. If you're still struggling to figure out what side hustle you can start or finding your niche or finding a target audience, this will stuff. There is a very quick exercise that I take students of my part-time YouTuber Academy through and it involves asking yourself five questions. Question number 1 is, what am I good at or what would other people say that I'm good at that I might not necessarily say about myself? Question number 2, what do I enjoy? The point here is we want to focus on quantity rather than quality. We just want to make as longer list of possible things that we enjoy and things that we think we're good at, or the other people think we're good at. Question number 3 is what industries or audience or groups am I part of or familiar with? For me it would be, I am part of all familiar with the group of YouTubers, doctors, medical students, secondary school students or university students, I understand these audiences. For me what a Warcraft gamers, people with creative side hustles, entrepreneurs or part-time YouTubers, bloggers, these are the audiences or the broad groups of people that I'm familiar with or that I'm part of. It wouldn't be something like parents. I don't know what parenting is like and therefore, I wouldn't think about that as being a group that I'm familiar with. Equally, if I was 65 years old and watching this class which is unlikely, but if I were 65 years old and watching this class, I probably wouldn't be familiar with teenagers because I'm just not part of that group anymore particularly. Question number 4 is, what do I wish I had known three years ago, five years ago, or 10 years ago, that I could teach someone today? Depending on how old you are, this is going to vary. If you're 16, then 10 years ago doesn't really matter. But if you're 16, then what do you wish you had known at the age of 13 that you could maybe teach 13 year-old. For me, I'm 26 right now, so I'm thinking, what do I wish I'd known five years ago at the age of 21, that I could now teach to 21 year-old. Finally, question number 5, how could I combine some of these points to make a niche? When we have this list of stuff, this is how we figure out what's the creative side hustle that I want to do? What do I enjoy? What can I help other people with? What value can I provide to the world? Generally, that means providing that value to a group or an audience that we are already part of. For me, when I first started my only real successful business at university, it was a business teaching people wanting to get into med school how to do well in their medical entrance exams. I was pretty good at these exams and I was pretty good at teaching and I was very familiar with the group of medical school applicants. Therefore, I could combine A, B, C, and D to create a niche around this, that became my side hustle, that became very profitable and it became the thing that's skyrocketed my YouTube channel further down the line because I was making money from this existing business. When I was younger, I tried making stuff that was not targeted these groups. I tried making random business ideas, I've got a whole video on YouTube where I talk about all my failed side hustles. I suspect a big part of the reason I failed was because I was targeting groups that I wasn't familiar with. I was trying to solve problems that I just didn't have a lot of insight into. Giving you a lot of information there, but really the bottom line of what side hustle you can start, pick whatever you enjoy and just run with it and take it seriously. If you take it seriously and apply the principles in this class, productivity for creators, then as long as you can do it consistently, I guarantee that your life will change. I can't put any numbers on it. I can't tell you that, "Hey, if you blog once a week, suddenly you'll become a millionaire two years from now." But the thing I say to all my students in my YouTuber Academy is that, for example, if you're starting a YouTube channel, if you make one video every week and do it for the next two years, I can 100 percent guarantee that your life will completely change. I can't put numbers on it, but I can tell you that you will be so glad two years from now when you look back and be like, "I'm really glad I started a YouTube channel." Whatever creative side hustle you're going to start, just remember that this is a long game and you want to enjoy the journey along the way and further down the line, you're going to be really glad that you started today. Thank you for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 5. How to Make Time in Our Busy Lives: All right. Let's talk about how we can make time in our busy lives to do our side project. Now, in this whole class we're going to be talking about productivity for creatives or productivity for people who want to start a side hustle. The thing all of this relies on, is actually making the time to do it in the first place. We all have these things that we want to do. We all want to, I don't know, learn to code, or learn the guitar, or learn a language. These are all absolutely viable side projects to do, but we have to make time for them. Now there's three things that I like to keep in mind when it comes to thinking about how to make time for stuff. Number 1 is that I really don't like the phrase, "I don't have time". I try and scrub that phrase from my vocabulary as much as I can. I don't have time is a complete myth. When we say, "I don't have time", what we're really saying is this thing is not a priority. If, for example, you're saying right now, "I want to start a YouTube channel, but I don't have the time," and I would say, "Okay, I will give you $1 million if you upload a YouTube video and start a YouTube channel." You're jolly well going to make the time to do that, right? Because the incentive is now reasonable to the point where you're going to do it. It's not that you just don't have the time, it's that you are choosing not to make the time because it's not a priority. So for me, whenever I'm tempted to think, "I don't have time to do this. I'm doing all these things that don't have time to do something extra." I always think, "No, it's not that I don't have time, it's that I'm actively choosing not to make the time. I am in control of my time. I can do what I want. I can set my schedule and therefore, it's entirely down to me whether or not I make the time for this." Secondly, I absolutely love the idea of time blocking. This is when we use a calendar, by the way, if you're not using a calendar, you should use a calendar for your personal life as well as for your work or school life. Anyway, time blocking is when we block out a period of time in our calendar to do our side project or to do whatever we want. Right now, I'm filming this class and I have time blocked in my calendar, "Film Productivity for Creators Class", which is why I'm sitting down here to do it. When it comes to other side projects that I work on, like I'm learning how to draw, I'm learning how to do freestyle rap at the moment, I'm trying to get better at piano, and guitar, and singing, and trying to become a writer as well. All of those things are time blocked in my calendar to various degrees. I have got three hours a week where I practice art, I've got three hours a week where I have a workout with my personal trainer because I'm trying to get six-pack abs, and the stuff that I'm failing at i.e, the music stuff, is because I haven't got it time blocked in my calendar. Whenever I time block something, it ends up getting done. I don't really like having empty spaces in my calendar where I can do what I want. I always like to fill that up with, like in the morning, I decide, okay if this day was going completely according to plan, what would I want to be doing in that time slot in my calendar? I think just giving myself the default that right now is 12:53, from 12:00-1:00 PM, I'm filming this class. If it was a gap in my calendar, I would have had so much decision fatigue, I would have not known what I could do, what I should be doing, what I feel like doing, I would have ended up on my phone just scrolling through Twitter, but now I'm sitting here and enjoying myself filming this class because I've timed blocked it in my calendar. If you're thinking of starting a side project, and you probably are if you're watching this, or if you want to level it up, literally open up your calendar right now or sign up to Google Calendar if you don't have one and just look for the next week and just time block half an hour or an hour every day, or even 15 minutes or 20 minutes, or even five or 10 minutes, we can all find a little bit of time to work on our side projects. These are the generally long-term projects that are going to lead to medium and long-term fulfillment and fun so we should make the time for it. All it involves is putting it down and block in our calendar. Thirdly, and this is something I'm going to talk about a little bit later as well, I really like the idea of productive downtime. Now, when I was working full-time as a doctor, I would be on call for quite a lot of the time, but it wouldn't be that I was working 100 percent of that time. Let's say a patient is coming to the emergency department and I've accepted them to our gynecology ward. It takes about 20 minutes for them to sort wheeled across and all the paperwork to be done, and in that 20 minutes, if there's nothing to do, I would sit on the computer at work or I would sit on my phone and I will just plan out video ideas, or write scripts for my videos, or write blog posts because those were the side projects I was working on at the time. It's really about intentionally using that downtime. I'm not saying that every single moment of spare time that you have should be productive and should be taken up with some activity or another, but if you're really trying to start a side project and you're enjoying yourself doing it, then you can take these 20 minutes, these 5-10 minutes here and there. These days, if I want to learn something, I watch YouTube videos about it while I'm on the toilet, rather than scrolling through Twitter, which is what I normally do when I'm on the toilet. Therefore, being on the toilet becomes productive downtime and it just makes me more likely to make the time to do the side project. A few different ways of how we can make time in their lives, but ultimately, I think just remembering point number 1, that our time is entirely within our control and "I don't have time" is a myth. If we don't have time to do something it's because we are actively choosing not to make the time for it, and therefore, it's our responsibility and not anyone else's to make that time in our life. I hope that was vaguely useful. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video. Bye. 6. How to Get Motivated: Welcome back. Let's talk about motivation. How do we pluck up the motivation to get started while doing the thing that we're doing? I think the first tip is to recognize that we only need motivation to do the things that we don't enjoy doing. Really what we want to be optimizing for while we're doing our side hustle is having fun along the way, and this is a thread that I'm going to keep on returning to throughout this class. If we can enjoy the stuff that we're doing, we're less likely to feel like we need motivation to do the thing. We never say, "I need motivation to hang out with my friends, or I need motivation to sit down and watch Netflix," because those things are inherently fun. We say, "I need motivation to sit down and study for my exams." Usually, we need motivation for stuff that is painful in the short-term, but useful for us in the long-term. One way of hacking that is to just enjoy the thing that we're doing a little bit more. What does that mean practically? Well, for me when it comes to sitting down and studying for an exam or sitting down and doing a coding thing for my websites, I like to have music in the background. I have a Study With Me playlist on Spotify, which has instrumental tracks from The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and the X-Men films and that just make studying a little bit more fun. I always try and make sure my desk is clean, I always make a cup of tea beforehand, these things just add up to make the process of getting started while studying or working on my side hustle a little bit more fun. What if that doesn't work? Well, there's a mindset shift that I found really helpful over the last few years when it comes to dealing with motivation and getting more motivated and that is to recognize that motivation is a myth. This is something I talk about extensively in one of my previous classes about productivity. You should check that one out if you haven't already. But essentially, the idea is that we have this misunderstanding of what causes motivation. The way we want to think about it is we start up with a thought, like, let's say the side hustle that we're working on is we want to start a blog and we want to start writing online. The thought is, "I should sit down and write a blog post." The action is sitting down and writing a blog post, and in the middle, we have this concept of, "I feel like writing the blog post." So I should write a blog post, I feel like writing a blog post; therefore, I'm going to write a blog post. That is the motivation route. It's an indirect way of trying to get to the thing we want to do by feeling like we want to do it. There's a fantastic article that I keep on referencing when I think about motivation that genuinely changed the game for me in thinking about this and it's called Screw motivation, what you need is discipline. Motivation is this thing of, "I feel like writing a blog post; therefore, I'm going to do it." Motivation is, "I feel like going to work; therefore, I'm going to work." Motivation is, 'I feel like brushing my teeth; therefore, I'm going to brush my teeth." Discipline, on the other hand is, "I might not feel like going to work, but I'm going to go to work anyway." Discipline is, "I might not feel like brushing my teeth, but I'm going to do it anyway because I'm an adult and I don't just do the things I feel like in a given moment and instead I do the things that I know I need to do, like brushing my teeth and going to work." It's the same for working on side hustles. For me when it comes to sitting down and making a YouTube video or making a class like this, I might not feel like it in the moment, and I'll be honest that before sitting down to film this, I was like, "I don't really feel like sitting down and filming," but because I'm disciplined, I just do it anyway. Now that I've started doing it, it's actually quite fun. I love hearing the sound of my own voice and this is nice; I like talking to a camera. That's a really useful mindset shift, but what else can we do to hack motivation? Well, motivation, like we said, is short-term pain for long-term gain. If we can make the action more pleasurable, like have more fun, we're more likely to be motivated equally if we can make the outcome more obvious and more salient. The reason a lot of people struggle with studying for their exams is because often dealing for your exam, it's like, "I need to do it now so that two years from now when I have an exam, then I'll do better at it so that further down the line, I'll be able to get into a good university and get a good job and the causality star starts to break down." But one of the main insights from the world of effective learning and the world of high performance is you want to shorten the feedback loop. The reason we find it hard to study for exams is because the feedback loop is way too long like the outcome is so far in the future that it doesn't make any difference. Equally, the reason why people struggle to lose weight or struggle to work out consistently is that you don't see the results immediately. If I could do an ab workout and suddenly I had six-pack abs, I'd be doing ab workouts absolutely every day. Equally, if someone is struggling to lose weight and they do some exercise or stop eating for a day and realize, "Oh my God, I've lost a decent amount of weight," they're going to keep on doing that and it would be really easy to lose weight. But that's not really how it works, these things all compound over time. So I have to do like ab exercises and eat well for like three months before I see any progress at all, and because that three months is way too long, the feedback loop is too long and therefore I'm less likely to be motivated to do the thing. When it comes to doing a side hustle and recognizing that sometimes we feel like we need the motivation to do it, how do we take advantage of this feedback loop? The way I think about it is we want to shorten the feedback loop artificially as much as possible. For example, let's use our side hustle of starting a blog. Sometimes that can be hard if we're writing like a really, really long blog post because we are writing here and then it takes ages to write and then we publish it and then no one's going to read it. But one way of shortening the feedback loop on that is publish shorter blog posts. There's a guy called Seth Godin who's been blogging every day since the 1990s, his blog posts are sometimes a paragraph long, sometimes even less than that. He writes, suppose he publishes that, he posted it to Twitter and his email list and he gets feedback immediately. So that's a very short feedback loop and that's the sort of thing that sustains motivation. Let's see when you write a longer blog post, what you can do is you can turn that blog post into a series of shorter ideas and you can share those in Twitter or on your Instagram story. Again, you just shorten the feedback loop. You're getting real-time feedback as you're writing the thing, it feels good. As Jeff Haden says in the book, The Motivation Myth, essentially the way motivation works is that it's based on small successes. We do something, we see a small result, and then that fuels motivation to do the thing again. We don't wait for motivation to strike because motivation is never going to strike and that's we actually do the thing and get the small successes. Shorten the feedback loop as much as you can, and depending on whatever your side hustle is, there are ways of doing that. This is partly why I love web design so much because you make a change to the code and immediately you see the result on the screen. It's a very, very tight feedback loop. Then once you've done a few tweaks, you can take a photo of that design, you can show it to a friend, it just makes it a lot more fun. Whereas if you're trying to code and you just tinkering away in your text editor and you're not looking at the results of what you're doing as you go along, it's a lot harder to motivate ourselves to actually do it. Overall, the way we get motivated is number 1, the mindset shift that screw motivation, what we need is discipline, but also recognizing that that's a goal standard, and if we enjoy the things that we're doing more or tighten the feedback loops, that's more likely to get us motivated to pursue our various side hustles. Thank you for watching. I hope you found that useful and I'll see you in the next video. 7. The Power of Identity Change: Welcome back. This is a quick little tip about the importance of identity change. Now, I remember when I started doing YouTube videos, it took me a while to become comfortable with the identity of being a YouTuber. But I think as soon as I did, it suddenly became a lot easier to actually make the YouTube videos. Equally, when I was learning how to code, when I was doing web design as a side hustle, it was initially hard for me to get this identity that I am a Web Designer, I am a Developer. But as soon as I adopted that identity, then suddenly my learning accelerated and I was able to actually make money from the thing because then I felt okay with offering my web design services on freelance websites. Sometimes even thinking about the phrase aspiring or junior is like youthful. I remember before I had like 5,000 subscribers or something on YouTube, I was calling myself a junior YouTuber or like a baby YouTuber on my Instagram bio, just because that adjective made me feel a little bit better about subscribing to that identity. Equally, if your side hustle is photography, you can say aspiring photographer or beginner photographer or a learner from learner photographer. But the point is you're adopting the identity in some capacity. Really, whatever your side hustle is, if you're struggling to make the time to do it, if you're struggling to motivate yourself to do it, try changing your Instagram bio or your Twitter bio, or just try telling yourself that I'm not someone who's trying to learn photography, I am a photographer, or I'm not someone who's trying to learn to play the guitar, I am a guitarist. Just automatically, that identity is what drives a lot of our behavior. I know right now that I'm a YouTuber and I'm an educator, therefore, I'm going to make YouTube videos and therefore I'm going to try and teach people. It's just like a thing. Whereas before it was like, I'm trying out this YouTube thing to see if I like it or not. We just need to have that confidence to tell ourselves, maybe not even to tell others, but just to tell ourselves, I'm a YouTuber, therefore, as a YouTuber, I will make videos. For me right now, I'm actually in the middle of writing a book. I still haven't adopted this identity of being a writer or being an author but I know that as soon as I do, I'm going to take my own advice straight after filming this video, as soon as I give myself the permission to adopt the identity, writing will become much easier because now it's something that writers do. It won't be a case of waking up in the morning and thinking, what should I do? It'll be a case of wake up and then waking up in the morning and writing because I'm a writer, and writers write, therefore I'm going to write. Hopefully you found that useful, the importance and the power of identity change. Thanks for watching. I'll see you in the next video. 8. How to Be More Efficient With Our Time: Let's say we've plucked up the motivation or the discipline to get started at working on our side hustle, but because it's a side hustle we need to be quite efficient with our use of time so that we can actually get a reasonable amount of things done without taking forever. Here are three tips on how to be more efficient with your time. You might have come across these before, I still find it useful to remind myself of them every single day. Number 1, Parkinson's law. Parkinson's law states that work expands to fill the time that we allocate to it. For example, if I were to allocate three hours to filming a YouTube video, it's going to take three hours. If I only allocate 1/2 an hour to filming a YouTube video, it's only going to take 1/2 an hour for me to actually film. Work expands to fill the time we allocate to it. Let's say your side hustle is learning photography and you allocate yourself 20 minutes to grab your phone and go out and take 20 photos. You've only got 20 minutes to take 20 photos, that's one photo every minute. That is using Parkinson's law to your advantage because now you can bang, bang 20 different photos. Because you've done a lot of practice in taking photos, because you've done 20 of them, your skills will improve much more than if you said, "Hey, let me give myself two hours and I'm just going to go around and take some photos and explore my photography." Being very, very targeted with how we spend our time, is how we can be efficient and therefore be more successful with our side side. Secondly, let's talk about the Pareto principle, which is that 80 percent of the outputs coming from 20 percent of the inputs. Now, this is useful when it comes to side hustles, for example, when I was learning how to play the guitar as a side hustle, I knew that the end goal was that I wanted to be able to play chords while singing along. With that in mind, I can take into account the Pareto principle and think, okay, what is the 20 percent of stuff I need to know about the guitar to get to this goal state of being able to accompany myself for singing. The answer to that is you basically just have to learn a few different chords and if you learn like four or five chords, chances are you can play most pop songs. If you get a couple for like five quid; $5, you can get the cap on your guitar and then you can play in different keys. That's the 20 percent of stuff you need to know to get sufficiently competent at the guitar to be able to perform and accompany yourself while basking in town or while singing onstage. Equally, let's say your side hustle is learning how to design websites. There is again, a core 20 percent of knowledge and skills that contribute 80 percent towards the design. There's a whole world of web design-related things that you could look at and you could go so far down the rabbit hole but most of the stuff that people care about when it comes to a website is whitespace and typography and other links working and is the line height between the letters and the lines; is that reasonable? If you get that right, that's 90 percent of the way there to making a pretty looking website. Whatever your side hustle is, try and identify that 20 percent of things that's going to really give you the 80 percent of the results. Finally, a technique that I keep on returning to the power of time blocking. This involves using a calendar like a Google Calendar, and actually telling ourselves that, for example, from 1:00 PM-2:00 PM I'm going to work on my guitar thing and then being specific about what that thing is. Right now, I've got from 3:00 o'clock to 6:00 o'clock in the afternoon, I'm going to film the Skillshare class. I have got the entire outline in front of me. I know all the things I'm going to say, therefore, it's very easy theoretically for me to sit down and just bash through filming the Skillshare class. Earlier today, I was working on my close-up magic. I'm trying to work on becoming a member of the Magic Circle, which is one of the most prestigious magical organizations in the world. To do that, I need to create an 8-12 minute magical act. So I spend 20 minutes writing a script. I said to my friend who's helping me out on the magic front that, "Look, let's get off the Zoom call for the next 20 minutes, I'm going to write the script and I'm just going to do it." I time blocked that in my calendar and then for 40 minutes, for the remainder of the hour, we exchanged some ideas on what this performance could look like. But the only reason that happened is because we planned out every Saturday from 1:00 till 2:00 PM, we've time blocked magic practice time. I found that over the last few years, the more I time block things in my calendar, the more I can actually get things done. Three tips on how to make the most efficient use of your time: Parkinson's law, the Pareto principle, and time blocking. Hope you find that vaguely helpful. Thanks for watching. I'll see you in the next video. 9. When Quantity Matters More Than Quality: In this video, we are talking about why quantity is more important than quality. Now, this might seem counter-intuitive if you haven't come across this advice before or if you haven't been watching my YouTube channel for a long time. We have this misconception that quality is more important than quantity. It's like, oh, it's better you do one thing right than five things really badly. Yes, that's true to an extent, but when you're starting out with a side hustle, it's absolutely not the case. It is better to do quantity rather than quality. For example, let's say you're learning how to write. You want to start a blog as your side hustle. It's far more important for you to just write lots, and lots, and lots of blog posts than it is to try and craft the perfect blog post. Let's say you're starting a YouTube channel. For the most part, it's more important for you to just make 100 videos, and then start worrying about the quality because if you worry about the quality from day 1, or even day 3, or day 20, it's going to hold you back, and it's going to mean you're not learning. There is a really nice story that illustrates this, it's The Parable of the Pottery Class. The story goes that there was a pottery class, and the teacher split the class up into two groups. The first group got told that, in the next 30 days, you need to just make one pot, and at the end of it you want to try and make this as good as it can be. You've got 30 days to focus on one pot. The other half of the class got told, every day for the next 30 days, you need to make one pot each day. By day 30 you will have 30 pots that you've made. At the end, a panel of independent judges judged the quality of each of the pots and they picked the best ones. Guess where all of the best pots came from? Yeah, that's right. They came from the quantity group, not the quality group. The group who made a pot every single day for 30 days, ended up making far better pots than the people who spent ages and ages, 30 days, refining a single one. This is a story I often like to remind myself of whenever the disease of perfectionism gets in my way. I remember that, you know what? It's more important for me to just make a ton of stuff and trust that I'll improve over time because you learn so much from making a YouTube video. Making 100 YouTube videos teaches you so much more about editing, and about videos, and about speaking on a camera, and about storytelling, than making five and just trying to make those five very, very good. To be honest, I think even when it comes to quality, we are such terrible judges of the quality of our own work. Often, my brother and I will release a podcast episode, and in our hearts we'll think, "Oh, my God, this was a terrible episode." But then we got a lot of feedback from people saying, "Oh, my God, the episode was amazing. That episode changed my life." Equally, with a lot of my YouTube videos, I think with like 90 percent of my YouTube videos, I release them thinking, "I'm not happy with how this video turned out." They still do well, people still seem to like them. The lesson that I've learned for myself is that, I am a terrible judge of the quality of my own work, and so instead of saying, "Oh, this isn't good enough to publish," I'm going to do my best to just publish it anyway and let the audience decide what's good enough and what isn't. At the start, generally, whatever the thing that you're interested in, focus on quantity. You want your side hustle to be becoming a web designer, make 100 websites. You want your side hustle to be being a writer, write 100 blog posts. You want your side hustle to be learning photography, take 1,000 photos before worrying about the quality of them. Later on, there's plenty of time to overthink and worry about the quality. Hopefully, that's useful. Quantity, more important than quality, just make 100 things. Thanks for watching, I'll see you in the next one. 10. How to Stay Consistent: All right, Let's talk about how to stay consistent. So, you know, we've we've assumed you've picked up an idea for a side hustle. You've kind of got the motivation or the discipline to get started and you're being efficient with your time when you're doing it. Unfortunately, that's not the end of the story because to do anything and do anything well, we need to do it very, very consistently over a pretty reasonably long period of time. Consistency is something I used to struggle with in the past, but I don't really struggled with anymore because I've realized the one simple hack to being more consistent about stuff is to make a public commitment to do the thing consistently. So, for example, I started my blog in 2016. And for the first two years of my blog, I wrote like three blog post a year. That's not consistent. That's pretty terrible. But then in 2018, I decided, you know what, I'm going to start a weekly email newsletter. And once I made that commitment and I had like a few tens or a few hundreds of subscribers to my weekly e-mail newsletter. Suddenly I had a reason to write something every single week and I've kept up this weekly newsletter for the last three years and it's going to be continuing for the rest of my life basically because it's so nice having that forcing function to make me actually write every week equally. Let's say your side hustle is you wanna start a YouTube channel or something like that. Making a commitment to yourself and to other people that you're going to publish one video every week or one video every two weeks, or an Instagram video every few days or a tiktok video every day. And making that public commitment is really helpful and actually maintaining the consistency throughout. For example, you want to get started with writing and you want to start your e-mail newsletter like I did, you can use a website called Review. It was recently acquired by Twitter and it's absolutely free. Rev you, I'll put a link in the video description kind of area just on email newsletter, ask your friends and family to subscribe. You'll start off with like four subscribers. But then because you'll have those four subscribers, you'll have a reason to keep writing. And in fact, if you post a link in the comment section of this class, I will also be a subscriber to your email newsletter if that's the thing that you're starting in particular. So hopefully that's useful to be more consistent. Make a public commitment to accountability so that you ensure you get the thing done. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next lesson. 11. How to Deal With Failure: Let's talk about how to deal with failure. Now, inevitably, whenever you're starting your side hustle or whatever it's going to be, you're going to get failures along the way. You're going to feel like this thing that I've put out is not very good. Or let's say you're designing websites, you're going to feel, "Oh my God, this website is not very good, " or, "I got rejected when I bid for a project." One of my side hustles was blending close-up magic, and I once tried to perform in a restaurant. It was the worst experience of my life because my first trick failed, and everyone looked at me like I was weird. I was just climbing up inside my shell, and I was like, "Oh my God, I can't do anymore tricks in this restaurant." It's one of those things that really teaches you a lot. Like that's how I would approach dealing with failure, is like re-framing it from failure to becoming a learning opportunity. To be honest, when we succeed at stuff, we don't really learn anything. It's our failures that we actually learn from, and there's a lot of evidence that the connections form in our brain as a result of failing in stuff and then practicing until it gets better. This is the idea of deliberate practice that loads of people have talked about. There's a book called The Talent Code, that talks about it a lot. Basically, the idea is that we want to be operating at the limit of our competence. We're slightly out of our comfort zone at all times. Let's say I want to learn the guitar which is the thing I'm trying to get better at, but the thing I'm tempted to do is I'm tempted to just play along with the songs that I already know. I learn absolutely nothing by playing along with songs that I already know. I only get better at playing the guitar by working on songs that I find difficult. Equally, if I'm singing a song that I already know, I'm not going to learn anything. But if I sing a song that I know it's hard, like a song where they have very high notes or really low notes or if they've got vibrato or anything like that, I'm far more likely to be better at it because I'm more likely to fail. That's one way of dealing with failure by re-framing it as a learning opportunity, and recognize that learning only ever happens when we fail at stuff. The other thing we want to think about when it comes to dealing with failure is what our friends and family and the people around us are going to think. There's an analogy that I quite like which is the crabs in a barrel analogy. If you imagine like a barrel filled with crabs, the thing that's interesting about that is that I don't know how true this is, but the image in my head is that anytime a crab tries to escape the barrel, the other crabs will try and pull them down because the other crabs don't want any one individual crab escaping the barrel, they want them all to be wallowing in this barrel of despair. This is like what a lot of our friends and family are like. Unfortunately, it might be the case for some of us. When we do something that steps outside of our comfort zone; pushes the boat out there a little bit; risks the feeling of failure, we're going to get our friends and family trying to drag us down. This is apparently a thing. I think Oprah talks about this when she lost weight, and was on the process of losing weight. A lot of her friends who were also overweight were trying to pull her down and trying to get her to be fat again because it just changes the dynamic when one person escapes the situation that the rest of them are in. Equally, I know of a few YouTubers and a few bloggers who started their thing, and a few of their friends have been like, "Hey mate, isn't it a bit cringe that you have a YouTube channel?" This was the case for me. Like when I first started my YouTube channel, and I was vlogging around medical school, people would say to me, ''Oh my God, Allie put the camera away'', and it would be a real sense of like, "How dare you have the audacity to push the boat out and do your own thing." But the interesting thing about that was given that I kept on going with it and was okay with that cringe response. I was okay with that feeling of being judged by my peers. It didn't really happen that much, it was one or two people, but it's still if felt like a big deal at the time but because I was okay with it and kind of pushed past it. Then like a few weeks later, those same people were saying, ''Oh my God, Alley can I be in a video or can I be in the thumbnail?" Or things like that. That's something that I always like to remember whenever I'm worried about failing publicly or failing and what people around me are going to think. Firstly, it's a small minority of people anyway. Secondly, like the crabs in a barrel analogy, like the crabs are going to try and pull you down, but you got to rise. Like Dark Knight Rises style, you got to rise out of the barrel and do your own thing. Hopefully those are some useful tips for dealing with failure. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 12. How to Never Run Out of Ideas: All right. Welcome back. In this lesson we're talking about how to never run out of ideas. Now normally, when you have a creative side hustle, whether it's YouTube channel or a blog, a podcast or web design, graphic design, art illustration, whatever, there is an element of bringing ideas into your side hustle system and then running with them. For example, for me as a YouTuber and as a blogger, I'm constantly on the lookout for new blog post ideas or video ideas. I've got friends who are artists and graphic designers and they're constantly on the lookout for inspiration on how they can apply their inspiration to their art. I've got friends who write books for a living and they're constantly on the lookout for examples they can use in their books or book titles or anything like that. So whatever creative side hustle you're working on, you want a system to never run out of ideas. Now the first step of this thing is a concept called Quick Capture. This is fairly standard amongst the productivity nerds. But if you haven't come across the idea before, Quick Capture basically means that anytime you have an idea about anything, wherever it comes from, you quickly capture that idea into a note-taking system as soon as possible. In the olden days, artists and writers and stuff used to carry physical notebooks with them, they would take out the notebook and they would always have a pen with them. So whenever inspiration struck, they would have a way of writing it down. These days, most of us don't carry physical notebooks around, but we always have our phones on us. So we can always, as soon as inspiration strikes, we want to quick capture ideas straight into our phone. It doesn't really matter what app you use for this; Apple Notes, Android Notes, Google Keep, Evernote or Notion. Notion is a bit slow. The one I use personally, it's called Drafts. Draft is very nice, and the way Draft works is that it's just a very, very quick note-taking app. As soon as you click on it, it immediately opens up a new note, and so it reduces friction. Going back to the general principle of productivity, that friction is the most powerful force in the universe. So anything that we can do to reduce the friction of doing stuff is massively going to improve our own productivity. This applies especially to productivity for creators. Anyway, basically Drafts is my inbox for anything that I want to capture there and then, and so for example, yesterday I was doing an interview with a guy called Stan Proco and as I was walking around the house, I was thinking of ideas that I could ask Proco. So I wrote it in Draft. The other day I had random idea that hey, wouldn't it be fun to do a video about my favorite perfume for productivity? So I just wrote down the title and wrote down a few notes. I think while I was on the toilet, it probably won't be a video is a bit silly. I was thinking maybe it's like an April Fool's thing that might be fun. But the point is I captured the idea as soon as I had it. Otherwise I would have completely forgotten it. Another example, a few weeks ago, I was sitting on the sofa just browsing through my phone and I randomly had the idea that hang on, loads people are asking about Bitcoin. I think it was because my housemate asked me something about, "Hey, how does Bitcoin work?" I thought, oh, that could be an interesting video. So there and then, I had my phone up, I opened up Drafts and I started writing down, what would this video look like? I wrote a hook and then I wrote like an introduction and then I wrote like little quick structure. This formed the basis of ultimately what became a half an hour long video about how to buy Bitcoin for beginners, which I put out on my YouTube channel. I don't think that video would have happened if I didn't have a solid process for quick capturing stuff. There's a quote from a guy called David Allen who wrote the Bible on productivity called Getting Things Done, the art stress-free productivity. David Allen famously said that your brain is for having ideas, not for holding them. A lot of us, we struggle with productivity because we use our brain as our random access memory. We use it to store ideas or to store things like, "Oh, I need to do this thing and I will just remember to do it. I need to buy this thing. I'll just remember to do it. Oh, I had this idea for a video. I'm not at the moment, I'll remember the idea and I'll just write it down when I get back home three hours later." Those ideas just end up completely disappearing. So the way I think of it is that my brain is a total dumb ass and I will not trust my brain to remember anything. Therefore, if I have an idea for anything at all, whether it's something I need to do, something I need to buy, someone I need to get in touch with or an idea for something in my creative side hustle, it will always be written down the instant it happens. Anytime I have forgotten to write it down, I have always regretted it. Because then I have forgotten the thing. Then I can't remember what I've forgotten and it's like all really weird. So overall, you need a quick capture process, a way of getting ideas down on paper or on your phone as soon as humanly possible. That is one of the things that it'll make sure you never, ever, ever run out of ideas. So whatever app you're going to use, make sure you've got it on your home screen, on your phone. Make sure it's very easy to access and start making a habit of writing stuff down as you think of it. Thank you for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 13. The Power of Parallel Processing: Welcome back. In this video, I'm going to talk to you about the power of parallel processing. Now, this is another one of my secret, not so secret tools in the productivity for creator's arsenal. We talked in the last lesson about how to never run out of ideas. We want to put all of our ideas into a central system and then we want to be parallel processing them to get the most out of our ideas. What is parallel processing mean? It's a computer analogy, but it's like back in the day computers would do one thing at a time and one thing at a time gets very slow. Nowadays, with modern processors and graphics cards, computers do lots and lots of different things at the same time and so that's parallel processing. They're doing multiple things at once. The other way of thinking about it is, for example, if I use the example of YouTube videos as my creative side hustle. I have always got a few hundred ideas for videos chilling in my database, and a lot of these ideas are at different stages of being cooked. Each idea is a pot and I have a huge stove and lots of different ideas are cooking on the slow burner. When I first started YouTube it was one video write, film, edit, publish, another video write, film, edit, publish, another video write, film, edit, publish. It was very much a one at a time type thing. That's just not particularly productive because it's a very heavy lift to have to write, film, edit, and publish a video all at once, then it's always like, "Huh crap, what video do I have to do next week?" I know that consistency is really important but I don't have any ideas and I'm starting from a blank page, and that's just adds so much friction to the process that it becomes really hard to actually put out content consistently if you're doing stuff one at a time. As soon as I switched to a more parallel processing slow burner type system, my productivity skyrocketed in terms of my creative output. Because the idea here is that you're never starting from a blank page. If I show you our video database at the moment. In this video database there are 200 plus video ideas and lots of them are at various different stages of being cooked. Usually what we do is that once a month I'll get together with my team and we'll say, "What videos are coming up later this month?" We plan it out a few weeks in advance. With a lot of these ideas we're not starting from a blank page, we're not saying, "Oh my God, we need a video let's make something up." Because in my video ideas database I have video ideas that I've been adding to over a very long period of time. For example, this is video, 10 things I learnt from my favorite YouTuber. I think I had the idea for this video over a year ago, and a year ago I made some quick notes in a physical notebook and then I scanned them into Evernote, which I was using at the time. I just had some general ideas be like, Peter McKinnon is my favorite YouTuber, here are three or four things I learned from him. Let me just add to this over time. Over the last year, I've had this idea just chilling in the video ideas database and as I've watched more and more Peter McKinnon videos and thought about this, because it's just on the back burner, I've added stuff to this list. I've got eight different things that I've learned from Peter McKinnon and I added these over the last few months. It's not that I sat down one day I was like, all right, let me think about 10 I learnt from Peter McKinnon. It was a long process, it was on the back burner for such a long time. Equally, if we take this video for example, one day, I think it was a few weeks ago, I had the idea that, hey, I should do a video based around my household tech. Therefore, there and then I wrote a few different ideas straight into notion about what things I was going to talk about. Then over the last few weeks I've just been adding to this maybe once a week just thinking of new ideas be like, "Oh yeah, I do have this lamp with Philips Hue, let me add that to the list." Then yesterday, as I was going through this in refining the idea is a little bit more, I thought, hey, I can split these up into different categories. Basically, we always have multiple videos on the slow burner, and so it's never that we are starting from a blank page and thinking, okay, we need to make this video. It's always all right, cool. We've got these 100 ideas in the database, 50 of them have some bullet points written about them. So when it comes to deciding what video is going to be a month from now on Tuesday we think, all right let's pick one of the ideas that were already working on and then I'll just flush it out a little bit more. So whatever your creative side hustle is you can do this. It doesn't have to be a YouTube channel, if you have Podcast and you have ideas for episodes, just write them down somewhere and then over time you'll think, "Oh my God, yeah, I could add that bullet point to that episode 3, which I've got an idea of about motivation or consistency." And you just add it in there and then. Then three months later when it comes to actually recording that Podcast, you'll have ideas in there that have been built up over time rather than it being a heavy lift. Equally, if you're a writer or a blogger or anything like that, again, everyone who does this professionally or successfully has a list of topics and they've got multiple things in the drafting and editing stages. They're not working on one piece at a time. That would be one of my biggest tips for productivity for creators. Think about how you can turn your system into more of a parallel processing E-type system, rather than thinking of doing things one at a time. In the next video, I'm going to show you how you can use templates to even further speed up this process. Thank you so much for watching and I'll see you in the next one. 14. How to Refine Your Ideas With Templates: All right, Welcome back. In this video I want to talk to you about the power of templatizing your workflow. Whatever your creative side hustle is, there are probably aspect of it you can systemize or templatize or turn into a system, or a framework, or checklist and that just makes it easier to create the thing. As a YouTuber, I'm going to use the example of YouTube videos. Now, we have me and my team, which used to be just me and there was a team of a few people. We have a pretty robust template system for our YouTube videos. The point of a template is that when you're doing a video or anything creative, there are often frameworks or guidelines you want to be using. Creating a template just helps you do that. For us, we've got these thing that we call new video templates. Basically whenever we have the idea for a video, let's say I want to do a video called, I don't know something like "The Power of Templates". It's a bad title. I would hit my new video template, I'm using Notion, I'll link all of this stuff in the project and resources section if you want to check it out. The first thing you see here is that we have a title, thumbnail, and production test checklists. The first thing, create 10 title ideas and bold favorite. This is the thing, usually if you're making YouTube videos, or blog posts, or email newsletters, or even Podcasts. The title of your thing is very important and often it's useful to think about the title before you think about the content. We have a checklist that says, "As a reminder, I need to think of 10 title ideas for this thing." Lets say the power of templates and so I've write on a few title ideas and then I bold whichever one is my favorite. Then I'll be able to check this off. Create three thumbnail suggestions and select favorite. Now I'm going to have to think. Ali looking at camera with smiling, bit boring. I could say, Ali looking at laptop with Notion screenshot on the side. I think you can put it to be three. That feels like a decent one. But the fact that I have created the checklist, the fact that this is a template means that I'm actually thinking about this stuff. I'm thinking about the title and the thumbnail before even thinking about the video, which is how you do it when you're a pro YouTuber. Now it's structure and plan scripts and then write script and then get script checked by a second person, ready to film sent to me and so on. That's one aspect of the template. It just gives us a default checklist that we have to do for every video. But then, what else is interesting is that I like incorporating story structures into my videos. There's a thing that Joseph Campbell calls "The hero's journey." Which is a structure that lots of stories from all walks of life, from all millennia are based on. This idea of the hero's journey. There is a person and they're in a small place and their life is normal and then someone comes along and says, "Hey, do you want to go on this adventure?" Is a cultural adventure. They go on the adventure then they have obstacles and then their life is changed as a result. Then they go back home. It's like the story of "The Lord of the Rings". Frodo is chilling in the Shire, Gandalf comes along and says, "Do you want to go on adventure?" Frodo initially says, "No." Then he says, "Yeah." Then he goes on a big adventure then he transforms himself internally and externally through fighting all these obstacles. Then he returns to the Shire, a changed man. This is something called "The Hero's Journey". You see in Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, a thousand stories all around the world. But we can turn the story structure into a template that we can then apply to our own YouTube videos or in writing. This is the way that I do it. I ask myself these questions. Who is the character? What do they want? Why can't they get what they want? What are the stakes? Who helps them? How did they get what they want? Then how they transformed by the experience? Just writing some of this stuff out for the videos that I'm doing is actually quite helpful. For example, I'm working on a video right now called My Productivity Slump. Then yesterday I was filling out the story structure for this. Who is the character? Me. What do they want? To be meaningfully productive during lockdown. Why can't they get what they want? Well, it's lockdown and stuck at home and Zoom call fatigue and I feel tired in the evening, I just want to play World of Warcraft. What are the stakes? I don't want to be a waste man forever. I'm writing a book and I might not meet the deadlines and I might get dropped by my publisher, feeling uninspired. Who or what helps them? A few elaborate techniques for getting out of the slump, which I've talked about already in this video script. By templatizing the thing and by figuring out, what are the elements of a good YouTube video? What are the elements of a good story? Can I copy paste those into a template that I can just apply to all my videos? It makes it a lot easier for me to be creative. This doesn't mean that I'm a slave to the template. It doesn't mean that for every single video, I'm saying "Once upon a time there was a guy called Ali and he did this and then he did that." But just forcing myself to think about the storytelling elements of this make it easier for me to create a better video. Whereas if every time I had to make a video, I was starting completely from a blank page and I just had all this stuff in my head. Again, the thing that David Allen says, "Your brain is for having ideas, not for holding them." It's a bit of a waste of space in my head to think about, how do I apply story structure this video? If I've got the template in front of me, I can just apply the structure automatically. This again is one of the things that makes me quite productive in terms of my output. This whole stuff is what allowed me to churn out three YouTube videos a week while I was working full-time as a doctor and while I had other businesses and teaching commitments running alongside. For you, if you're struggling to get your creative side hustle off the ground or If you just want to make it more productive, the more you can templatize your workflow, the better everything is going to be. If you want more information on this, my friend Thomas Frank has his own Skillshare original class called Productivity for Creatives, where he talks a lot about templatizing and we even have a bonus interview between me and Thomas Frank as the final video of this class if you want to learn more about how both of us use templates. We both use templates very extensively and I think if you can incorporate templates into your workflow, whatever that is. It will make your life far more productive, happy, and a lot easier. Thank you so much for watching and I'll see you in the next video. Bye bye. 15. The Power of Productive Downtime: Welcome back. In this video, we're talking about the power of productive downtime. This is something I always talk about in my productivity classes because it's just so useful. When your downtime can be productive, it's just amazing. For me, when I'm at work, if I'm on an evening shift and it's a bit quiet, I might have 10 or 15 minutes here and there where I don't have any patients to see or if I'm awaiting blood results or something like that, and in that time, what most people would do is they'd sit on their phone and browse Twitter or Instagram. Whereas as what I would do normally, if I've got the energy, is I would open up notion on the Windows computers at work or grab draft on my phone. Even sometimes I just grab a piece of paper from the printer and just write stuff down. I would start planning out the video. Now, this is great because when it comes to whatever creative side hustle we're doing, often we can do a lot of bits of it, like in small chunks here and there. Even if you are an artist, you can still make thumbnail sketches in three seconds while you're just sitting down doing nothing. You don't need an A-hour block of time to do a proper thing. A lot of creative side hustles have these elements of writing or planning or brainstorming or drafting, which can be done in our downtime when we're at work, when we're in school or when we're on the toilet, or when we're doing whatever. If you really care about being a productive creator, like I personally do, and you enjoy the thing, then your downtime can become productive because you're doing interesting things in that. Obviously, there is the caveat that not everything has to be productive all the time. If you want to actually relax in your spare time, then by all means do the relaxing thing. I'm not here telling you what to do. But I'm saying is if you want to be more productive as a creator and you enjoy the thing that you're doing, I find it a lot more fun and fulfilling and satisfying to have planned a video in 15 minutes when I'm at work, rather than have scrolled through Instagram for 15 minutes. So few of us find it actually meaningful or joyful to scroll Instagram or to scroll Twitter. Normally we don't want to do it, but we do it because we don't have anything better to do and we think, well, I can't do anything proper in this time because it's not that much time or to that, I would say the power of productive downtime my friends, you can use that time to draft a video, to draft a blog post. I don't know, find some inspiration for art on Pinterest or whatever your creative side hustle is. So that is the power of productive downtime. It is one of the main reasons why I've been able to try out content so regularly, I try to take advantage of these sort 10, 15-minute chunks here and there. So thank you for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 16. The Power of Productive Procrastination: Welcome back. In this lesson, we're talking about the power of productive procrastination. One of the great things about having a creative side hustle, is that, especially if it's something that you enjoy, which going back to what we said right at the start, there's no real point in doing a creative side hustle if you're not having fun doing it. When you have a creative side hustle, which is probably different to your work, then your procrastination from work becomes the creative side hustle. This is really cool. When I was at university, my procrastination from doing my medical school work, would be to watch YouTube videos on how to edit videos. Whatever your creative side hustle is, if you can figure out a way to make that your source of procrastination some of the time, it's just massively increases your own skills and your own productive output at doing the creative thing. Even if it's not directly like editing tutorials and stuff, for me as a YouTuber, now when I watch YouTube videos or when I watch TV shows and films, part of my brain is like analyzing what is this person doing, what camera moves are they using, what is it about the editing here that makes it effective. Now that I'm a connoisseur of video, watching YouTube videos has become productive for me and again, you don't have to be productive all the time. I'm not saying productivity it will cost, what I'm saying is that if you enjoy the thing, I enjoy getting better at making YouTube videos, so now when I'm watching YouTube videos, it serves a dual purpose of A, I'm having fun, and B, I'm learning. I think when we can combine fun and learning, which is what we're trying to do here on Skillshare, when we combine fun and learning, life just becomes a lot more enjoyable, and a lot more productive along the way. Thank you for watching, that was the power of productive procrastination, and I'll see you in the next video. 17. Wrap-up Lesson: This is the final official lesson in the course and here we are wrapping up all of the main points. Firstly, we want to start with why we want to have a very solid reason behind the thing that we're doing and preferably we want to enjoy it as well. There is no real point trying to do something for the money and not enjoying it because you'll end up not doing it. Or if you do it, you'll end up being unhappy and realizing that the destination is not really where you want it to end up anyway. Secondly, it's a matter of choosing to make the time for it. This thing of "I don't have time" is never ever a reason unless you are literally working three jobs to support your family and you literally you don't have a single minute of the day, then that's okay. Most of us watching this or not in that position, most of us have tons and tons of time on our hands and we just squandered that time browsing our phones, browsing Instagram, Twitter, watching Netflix, this stuff. What I like to remember is that at every moment I am actively choosing what I want to do with my time. Therefore, the three hours I spent procrastinating before filming the Skillshare class, I was choosing to watch war-craft videos instead, I cannot tell myself with any good conscience that "I don't have time" because I would just choosing to use that time for something else. Then when it comes to doing the actual work, I find that getting started is often the hardest part. The easier we can make it to get started with our thing, the easier everything becomes. Usually, for me, that means I tell myself that I'm only going to film for two minutes. Once I start film for two minutes, once I've got everything set up then I think this is quite fun, I might as well continue. But it's that starting at process that's particularly troublesome in terms of the friction it takes to get started. Then when we're working on our creative side hustle or art or videos or writing or whatever it might be. Parkinson's law is useful to keep in mind that work expands to fill the time available to it. If we just give ourselves less time to do the thing, we'll probably end up doing the thing in less time and also I find it useful to remember that perfect is the enemy of good, done is better than perfect. This disease of perfectionism that we all have is absolutely terrible. We can and should put stuff out there even if we think it's not very good. Because A, we are terrible judges of the quality of our own work, and B, if we don't put stuff out there, we're not going to improve. It's by continuously iterating on stuff, publishing out there, getting feedback, and making it better that we improve at whatever our creative side hustle is. Then once we figured out those concepts, we can apply things like the concept of parallel processing, the concept of quick capture, the concept of never running out of ideas. The idea of templatizing your workflow to make it easier to produce stuff and we can apply the principles of productive downtime and productive procrastination to squeeze the most out of each day. The final thing to say is that what we want to remember is that productivity is actually not the end goal. Productivity is just a means to the end goal, which for most of us is meaning and fulfillment, and happiness. Now for me, my creative side hustles bring me meaningful filament and happiness, if I can be more productive during my creative side hustles that for me, involves like picking a meaningful destination, enjoying the journey along the way. On the days where I'm not productive, where I'm not working on my creative side hustle and instead, I've just been scrolling through Twitter and Instagram. I don't usually feel very good about myself. Yes, there are some days where I need to relax and I'll just watch TV and that's fine. But for me, and I'm sure for you as well, this thing where we say, oh, I need to relax, I'm going to scroll through Twitter. That's probably BS. I get much more enjoyment and fulfillment and, in a way, relaxation out of working on my art or doing some writing. I much prefer to be creating something than to be a mindless consumer of something else. To wrap up, I'm not saying in this class, productivity at all costs is the most important thing. What I'm saying is that when you've decided a meaningful destination, like I really want to work on my art or I want to make a YouTube channel and being productive on the journey and making sure we're enjoying the journey just makes all of life better and happier and more meaningful and more fulfilling and it means we spent a lot less time browsing Instagram or Twitter for no reason. If you're just getting started with your creative side hustle, I wish you the very best of luck and if you're continuing on your journey of your creative side hustle, best of luck as well. I really hope you found some of the advice in this class helpful. These are all the principles that I've used to do the creator thing. Trying out, hopefully, useful videos and courses and blog posts and stuff. I'm using all these principles to write a book as we speak and this creative side hustle thing has definitely added a lot of happiness, meaning, and fulfillment to my life. Hopefully, as people tell me, it added value to theirs as well. Thank you so much for watching. We have a few bonus interviews in the rest of this class, but all the best. I'll see you later. Bye, bye. 18. BONUS: Thomas Frank Interview: This is a bonus interview. It's a discussion between me and my good friend Thomas Frank, who runs a ridiculously popular YouTube channel and a ridiculously popular blog, and in fact is probably the single best teacher on Skillshare as a platform. He's got three fantastic Skillshare, original classes themed around productivity, actually, all of them. I'll put links to all of those in the video description, but otherwise enjoy this wide-ranging conversation between me and Thomas Frank, all ready. Hello, Thomas. Hello. Welcome to this bonus video for this class. I'm happy to be here. For the 0.5 people who might not know you, can you just give us a quick introduction to who you are and what you do on Skillshare and on YouTube, please? Sure thing. Hello, my name is Thomas Frank and on YouTube I make videos about personal development and learning and personal finance and things that generally interest me that also help people improve their lives. Here on Skillshare, I typically focus on productivity and habits. I've done my own class on productivity for creatives focusing on building sustainable habits as a creative, and then also on building templates and reducing the friction in your process. Now, amazing stuff. Absolutely delighted to have you on here, and I've certainly taken a lot of inspiration from your channel and your Skillshare classes and everything. It was actually you that turned me on to the idea of starting classes on Skillshare. Thank you for that. It's been a pretty good decision, I think. Skillshare is good [inaudible] love Skillshare. I'm actually working on a video about the war of art on this concept of the resistance and stuff. Do you have thoughts on how you/how creators can come about that inherent resistance, the blank page, the empty screen, the camera that hasn't been turned on yet. How do you go about approaching that? I have a lot of thoughts on this. I think the thing you got to do first is make a mess and then clean that mess up later. It is so much easier to clean a mess up and make it presentable than it is to try to create some perfect thing from a blink starting Canvas. When it comes to resistance, I think the thing you got to do is reframe the task and make it input-based rather than output-based. Instead of saying, "I have to make this video, I have to write this paper," say, "I have to work for 20 minutes on this project." That's what I've been doing. I'm working on a little notion basics course for my second channel. It's a whole course, so it's an intimidating project. But I just sit down each day and I'm like, "I've got to write for 15 minutes a day." I've actually got a little habit in my habit tracker that just says write for 15 minutes and I've got the outline. Just like I did with my book, I will take one section of the outline, create a little page for it and just start writing. What I find is usually by the time I've gotten to the 15 minute mark, I'm now in the zone and I'm creating not only work more easily, I'm creating better work. The analogy I like to use is of a gold miner. If you're somebody who mines for gold for a living, then you're not always going to strike gold whenever you dig somewhere. Hopefully, you've got some crazy technology to figure out if there's probably gold in the ground. But either way, you have to dig through a bunch of dirt and rock to potentially find gold. That process of digging through nothing of value is required to get you to the point where you're ever going to find gold if you are going to find it. As a creative, I think of my first 15 minutes of writing as that process of just excavating my way to the point where I'm actually going to start mining valuable content. I have to do it and I have to do it to get myself for the part of the work that's valuable. If I don't do it, I just never get there. Amazing advice. I was speaking to one of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson, who writes lots of fantasy books. That's so cool. You interviewed him? It's amazing. I can't believe that happened. Brandon Sanderson, he is one of my heroes. Not only is he an amazing author, that man is maybe the most productive author ever. It's just completely insane how much he just churns out. It's also good. He's a machine. He writes books faster that we can read them, almost. I should let you continue, but I just love his progress tracker. Yeah. In his website. It's so cool. It's very creating public without having to reveal the plot. Two things about our mutual friend Brandon. One is that he also very much subscribes to this gold mining excavation thing where he says that it takes him like literally an hour to get into the right state to actually be writing good stuff. He knows that he therefore needs like a four hour chunk of time to do his writing, and he has two of those four hours chunks each day. But also interestingly, he says, that he motivates himself to write by tracking his word count on a spreadsheet. He loves seeing numbers go up and he turns it into a little game. I think that's very interesting because I think a lot of people do this thing of manufacturing ways to make the creative process more fun so that they're more likely to actually do it. I wonder if you do anything along those lines. I'm trying to think if I do anything like that. I do like to check my word count in notion, but I haven't actually tracked that thing. I have always been more on the stick side than on the carrot side. When I'm like, "I need to be more consistent with my creative work." My first thought isn't, "Let me track my word counts so I can see it in a spreadsheet," which maybe I should do. For me, it's been like, let me go on Beeminder and set a goal that will charge me money if I don't hit it, or I'll use Habitica. I guess Habitica does have some rewards built-in. It's a whole RPGish thing. You get armors and weapon, things like that. But the thing that has always motivated me the most is the fear of taking damage if I don't do my habits or breaking the streak. I don't know if there's probably some weird psychological diagnosis you could give me, but I'm very motivated by fear of consequences that I set up more than I am with little things that make it more enjoyable. I have done the spreadsheet for reading challenges in the past. A few years ago I was like, I want to read more non-fiction. So I had a spreadsheet where I would track how many pages I read in a day. I think I had to do 25 pages a day, but I also had a bet with my friend Martin that I would give him 100 bucks if I failed it. I don't know why my brain just gravitates towards like, put the sword of Damocles above myself. If we imagine back when you first started College Info Geek, because I imagine most of the people watching this. [inaudible] want to become creatives but aren't really necessarily there yet. I guess it's easy to make a YouTube video when you have, in your case, two million plus subscribers waiting to see it. How did you motivate yourself to do this stuff in the early days where you were starting from zero. I think it was easier to motivate myself in the early days. The only thing that really kept me from making videos when I was a blogger in just written content was the thought that I didn't have the gear required to make a good enough video. I think that I was wrong back then, and you can throw a rock and hit a YouTube creator with a million subscribers now who has spent less than $300 on their audio and video gear. We've got a number of people in standard who are using the $80 blue Yeti mic, and they don't even go on camera. That's literally all they're using. I found out that Evan, from [inaudible] , he has these great animated videos. He animates them in ScreenFlow, I think it's a $90 program. He didn't even use After Effects. Wow. I don't know if he switched since then, but he had easily over a million subscribers animating everything in ScreenFlow. The tools really, they're so accessible these days and you do not need the crazy high-end cameras even if you see other people using them. I always think about like MKBHD and the reason he has for filming an 8K and everything. He's very up front about it. He says, "I don't need to film an 8K to run a sustainable channel. I literally just do it because it fulfills me and I'm a nerd for gear." That's what I am. Anything I do that's crazy over the top, it's because I'm a nerd about it. It doesn't really need to be that way. I think you are a testament to that. Your videos do better than mine these days and you're not doing crazy jib moves and buying [inaudible] cameras. [inaudible] amount of effort you put into camera movement. I think I just don't have enough space for all the gear that you have. I am thinking about, "How could I do this stuff in less space so I can maybe live in a denser place someday?" When I was getting into it, there was just much more intrinsic motivation. That's actually something people don't think about when they're looking at bigger creators. Maybe you feel this as well. There's something in psychology called the overjustification effect, where an external reward, when it's given to you regularly for doing something that you had intrinsic motivation to do in the past, it actually decreases that intrinsic motivation. It's well-documented in psychology across anything. If you take someone who loves to make videos just for the craft of it and now you start paying them, it's almost unavoidable. They're going to start losing a little bit of that intrinsic motivation. As a larger creator, I actually have to work harder to motivate myself to make a video than I used to when I had 200 subscribers. I do that by constantly pushing myself to learn new techniques that I know aren't necessary for the financial health of my channel. When I was starting, it was like, "I just want to make this video, let's do it." If it was crap, your production-wise, it didn't matter. There's something really interesting that I noticed with my own motivation. After joining standard, where suddenly I was getting decent money for sponsored videos. Suddenly I found myself like almost thinking of it as work, "Oh, God I've got a sponsored video deadline tomorrow." It's so weird because you would think that when you're being paid like ungodly amounts of money relative to anything reasonable for like a YouTube video, it would make you want to do it more. The other thing I noticed was when I took a break from medicine and suddenly became a full-time YouTuber. Now, my YouTube was my job and that changed something in my head that made me procrastinate even more when making videos. I don't know if you've had that at all. I definitely did. Actually, the first taste I had of this came in college. Before College Info Geek was really my job, I had this thought that I'm so busy. I have a full class load, I have two part-time jobs, I'm in clubs, all this stuff. I'm going to quit both jobs. I'm going to take the minimum amount of credits required and I'm going to dedicate every free hour I have to building this website. This semester I did that. I published fewer articles than I did in any other semester. I spent a lot of time playing video games. What I learned is the compression actually really helps when you're just like, "Oh, let me just make all this time for me to work." A lot of times, especially if you've been affected by reaping material rewards, a lot of times you just will let your work expand to fill that time through procrastination, or perfectionism, or whatever it is. These days I find that if I give myself a whole day to film a video, it will take the whole day to film the video. Whereas back in the day when I would give myself an hour in the evening when I'd go home from work to film the video, it would take an hour to film the video. It was such a good example of Parkinson's Law in action. I'm terrible about it, man, and I will convince myself. I'll come across some little rabbit hole thing that wouldn't matter and I'll convince myself it's needed. I think that's something that you're pretty good at, just getting it out there and getting it done. You've been preaching the value of quantity and the value of frequency on your social media videos. It's something I constantly need to remind myself of because I'm sitting here still trying to do my investing video and I'm like, "I need to be knowledgeable about this esoteric covariance relationship between emerging markets and the domestic markets." No, I don't. I really, really don't. Nobody needs to even hear about that. If I put it into my video, it'll probably hurt the video. It was like, "Hey, that's due tomorrow, just get it done," then I wouldn't even think about it. Yeah. I was talking to Devin from Legal Eagle, our mutual friend, for an interview for my YouTube, of course, and he was joking about when it comes to Notion, like how deep you go on the topics to a level where most of the audience probably won't care, but I think of it like how Marquez goes deep on the camera things even though like really no one cares. Is that how you approach the Notion thing? It feels like your bar for quality is really high. What's the thought process behind that? I'm just fascinated by the details and I'm very bad at realizing that most other people aren't. When I come across a detail or when I come across the ability to create a complex system, it's very fascinating to me and I just tend to go down the rabbit hole and then convince myself, this is necessary, which is probably a weakness when it comes to creating content that is easily consumable by a big audience. But that's just how my brain works. Yeah, I think you do a really good job of going deep, and every time I watch one of your videos I think, damn, I need to go deeper on my stuff. I feel like I scratched the surface level and then in a way I feel dirty about it. It's also a curse because I intrinsically feel like if I make a really basic video, people are going to be like, "Duh, this is obvious." I remember when I made my first Skillshare course, I felt really guilty because I'm like, "Okay, what I'm basically saying is use a calendar, use a to-do list, use a note-taking system, and use a file management system, and I'm talking about how to use each one for five minutes," and I put it out there and I'm like, "This is not detailed enough. People are not going to want to pay for this unless I'm talking about crazy templating systems that automatically propagate across your whole system." All the feedback was, "Whoa, I need to use a calendar. Dang, dude, thanks. Recurring events? Oh, I didn't know about that." I have to realize I've been doing this for ten years so anything that sparks a bit of interest for me it's too detailed. If I'm trying to communicate to an audience who hasn't really gotten into this stuff before, I should probably put that on my wall. I've got Austin Kleon's book, Show Your Work!, that's on my desk at all times where he basically talks about the curse of the expert and how we should embrace the fact that we can be beginners in a thing and our audience probably is also beginners in the thing. One thing that I have done, I started doing this a couple years ago is, if I have an aha moment and something I'm a beginner in, I'll write it down. Like for my Notion course, earlier on in my Notion journey, I just had a little list of like aha moments, because I figured by the time I get this thing out, it's going to be to the point where really Advanced Workflows, I'm just going to get used to them because I've been using it for so long, and then I won't think like, "Okay, I should build this into an aha moment into the course." I hype it up a little bit or come along on the journey with the users, they realize, "Oh, you can do this cool thing." Like you said, it's the curse of the expert where you've been doing it for so long it feels like breathing. I remember I took a friend skiing and I tried to teach him how to ski, and he fell the first time and couldn't even get up and I could not think of what to say to get up. I'm like, "I thought I knew the techniques here, I thought I knew how to communicate this." Then a ski instructor comes by and he wasn't even teaching us a lesson. He just saw my friend not being able to get up and he's like, "All right, put your foot here at this angle. Now put your arm here." He got him up in ten seconds and he was like, "All right, here's exactly we're going to want to do if we're going down this hill," taught him perfectly. What that teaches me is, number 1, if you are an expert, you forget about a lot of those beginner tactics, which is why sometimes intermediates and advanced beginners are the best teachers for total beginners because they have very recently experienced those plateaus and then breaking through those plateaus. If you are an expert, the ability to teach in itself is another separate skill that takes a lot of time to learn. Absolutely. There's a quote that a friend of mine said once which is that you've got to remember that 98 percent of every market is complete beginners. When I was doing my YouTuber Academy course thing, I initially was aiming at intermediate YouTube so the people with 50K to 500K subscribers who wanted to expand their empire and hire a team and create systems for templatizing and re-purposing their content. Then we got people in and 99 percent of them had fewer than ten videos. I was just like, well, we really need to change. I had a very different idea. I almost felt bad because I was like, "I'm really worried like the stuff I'm saying is so obvious," but I'd be seeing in the Zoom chat people, "Oh my God, this is mind-blowing." The stuff that we take for granted as people who've been doing it for a while, is the stuff that we should be teaching the beginners. Did you ever have moments where you'd see messages like that and remember having those realizations yourself earlier in your journey? Yes, absolutely. I imagine you've had that feeling as well? I definitely get that as well. When you have the concrete example in front of you, it's much easier to remember, "Oh yeah, there was a time where I didn't know that either." It was super cool when I discovered it. It was only about two years into my YouTube journey that I just stumbled across the piece of advice that, think about the title before you make the video. "Oh, my God, this changes the game. Of course, you should think about the title before filming the video." I'm still really bad at that. Yeah. It's a huge weakness for me. I'll be reading a book and I'm like, "I have to make a video about this idea. Okay, what's the title?" It's a constant struggle. I wonder if we could talk a little bit about templatizing because you're famously professional at templatizing stuff. How would you approach it, like let's say you're starting a blog for the first time, and then we can maybe talk about the YouTube example afterwards. What does templatizing mean and how would you approach it? Templatizing is actually taking parts of your process that are repeated and if you can, building them into some automation that sets things up for you so you don't have to repeat those. For the example that's freshest in my mind, when I create a YouTube video, what we have always done is done what's called an A cut, where we just cut the talking head footage down to roughly the length the video is going to be and then we'll watch through it and determine, "Okay, what's going to go on top of that. What's the B-roll going to be in terms of other footage or animations or pictures?" In the past, I would have to write out all of these B-roll ideas, usually I do it in Google Docs, and then translate those over to to-do list and have a good checklist of them. Even then, there was the problem of, it's really hard to batch those tasks. Actually thinking back to when I was a much younger YouTuber, I would write my B-roll ideas out on a notebook and then I had a system of symbols that I would put next to each one. A triangle meant an image from the Internet and a square meant go film something for B-roll, and then I have to look through each one and I'd go through passes because I want to batch my tasks efficiently. I'm going to go film all my B-roll pieces in one batch, then I'm going to go get all my Internet footage in another batch. One of my brain blasts when I started using Notion is the tables or databases that can have multiple views. I can have one view that sorts all those ideas chronologically, and that's the order I write them in, and it's going to be the order I edit them onto the timeline in, but there's another view where I can sort them by what type of action I have to take to get them in the first place, whether it's taking screen recordings or going out and filming things. Sometimes with really complicated videos, I may have two categories. Like for film things, I may have those split up by location, which is how Hollywood productions do it. But I hadn't ever done it as a YouTuber and then getting into Notion like, cool, so now I have a template where when I create a video, that database is already built for me. All I need to do is just import my comments, which is pretty sweet. For blogging, it was more like a checklist than a specific template, because with blogging, the process of creation is a lot simpler. You have research, you have writing, and then you maybe have multimedia that you place into the post. With the research, I do remember I had a template in Evernote where I'd have a section that was titles, ideas, and a section for keywords, a section for research, a section for source links, and then a section for just brain dumping. When I'd come up with a new video idea or a new blog post idea, I would go and copy that out of Evernote and throw it into a new note and then have a place to work. That basically just gives you your predefined sections already. This is pretty useful for journaling as well. If you'd like to do structured journaling, like how was I feeling today? What tasks didn't I do? You can build a template for that. Then I've also done a lot of templatizing for Photoshop graphics. In the past, my YouTube thumbnails were a lot more structured, so I have a default thumbnail template that has things like a vignette around the border, it has several different backgrounds. At one time I think there was several versions of me that I can switch between and I don't think I've ever used those, but I'm more keen on using them with my Notion channel. I don't care, about the thumbnails as much there, so I actually have 30 different poses of me all cut out and I can just choose one for a thumbnail and then just change the text. Apparently this is what Graham Stephan does, he just would spend one day doing weird faces to the camera. He reuses those all the time. Nobody cares. They're like seven, eight, those I go through. It's great. When David Dobrik was the same exact facial expression. Yeah. I think it was the same picture for every video and this bugs me so much, he would just do a horizontal flip and put himself on the other side of the thumbnail sometimes. To be different, yeah. This is the problem with being a discerning creative. You're not willing to do things like that even though they don't matter because your audience isn't looking for "Oh, did he flip the photo or is it taken with the right dimensions?" They're just like, "Oh, hey cool facial expression. I want to click on this video," but as the creative you can't let yourself just get away with that kind of stuff. Yeah, I'm curious about this notion course of yours because if I think about doing a notion course, I would think, "All right, cool, I'll film it on a Saturday and I'll send it to my editor on a Sunday," but it seems like you're making it far more of a big deal than I would. What's the thought process there? Because you could just talk about notion and it would be really good and people would love it, why go above and beyond? This is probably an erroneous belief but I put so much effort into my YouTube videos and they're free. That the idea in my head is, "Okay if I'm going to charge people for something, it has to be better than what I would give away for free on YouTube." Better in my head is always like more, which is not the right answer I realize. So when I think about like creating a Notion course, I'm like, "Okay. What would I do for free content?" I make this great, well produced video, also written version, and if it's a basics, of course, I would want to give it away for free so then the advanced thing has to solve deep complex problems. Then I'll get questions from people realizing, "Okay, their problem is difficult and complex, I need to think about that for the course." I don't know. I think it's just overthinking. It's just very difficult to get past that. I really had this when I was doing the first code of the YouTuber Academy because I had a lot of imposter syndrome about it being like, "Oh my God, I'm actually charging people for the first time for something. This is a big deal." Because stuff on Skillshare doesn't really count as charging people because they can get it for free effectively. If they don't like your course, they have millions of other thousands of others. Yeah, suck it. They're on a free trial half the time. When you're charging real money for something, I had a sense of like, right, I need to jam as much content as I possibly can so that no one will ever think, "Oh my God, this is not worth the money." By week 1 1/2 out of the four week course, people are like, "Oh my god, this is an overwhelming amount of content." I realized, "Oh crap, maybe I'm not doing these people a service by piling everything I know into these in our chunks. This time we've done the same content, it was six weeks instead just to give more time and reducing the workload, the amount of it. I still feel weird about it, I'm like, okay, well there's bonus videos here and here. No one watches the bonus videos, they're just like, "Oh, this is a good session.". Really? I just constantly battle between I want to give people a fire hose of content, but that's not what they what they want and also know what they need so I keep on having to fight with myself about it. Yeah, I think I just need more people telling me stuff like that, just hammering into my head. I know this from a consumer standpoint as well, I took samuraiguitarist course, I think it's called the rudiments of guitar music theory. It was $100 and I've read books on music theory before. I know what you will probably learn in a first semester music theory class at college. What he covers is probably like the first week, it's intervals and the notes on the scale for translated to the guitar fretboard and triads. That's it. It's like seven videos, I think. I remember going away from that thinking, "Man, I'm really glad I bought that cause I now understand the notes on my guitar fretboard," and it was like the perfect amount of practice work for me to do. I think if I would have paid $100 and then logged in to see 90 videos and 500 worksheets, I would've just been overwhelmed. This sounds like a good course, I need one of those. I've been playing guitar since 2014, and I've never learned the notes on the fretboard. I need to get around to this. I was watching Justin Guitars YouTube channel and I discovered the concept. I can play triads on the piano but like, "Oh shit, triads are a thing on the guitar as well. I need to sign up to the samurai course." It's really good, and he has a bundle so you can get the second. It's like a little more advanced, it goes into seventh chords. I think it's worth it. Speaking of which, I've added your original tracks to my study with me playlist, and occasionally they come up when I'm doing like a co-working session. I always think this is really good and then I realize, "Oh, it's yours," because everything else is like film instrumental music and then your thing comes up with the nice finger style. It takes me a while to remember that it's your thing. Yeah, fantastic job on those tracks. Very cool. Thank you. You've done that with a guitar. Yeah, I can't wait to make more. I finally got the new studio set up and there's guitars on the wall. On that note, probably unrelated to create, I suppose, somewhat related. Playing the guitar doesn't contribute to your bottom line. I certainly get accused of this and I feel like you must do as well like promoting productivity at all costs and all that stuff but I always think like, "Well, no, it's actually more about having fun and doing the things you enjoy whether or not they're productive and monetized and stuff." How do you think about that with your music? The main thought I have with music is I want people to listen to it, but I never want to rely on it. This comes from having done this job for 10 years and remembering times when I would look up to big YouTubers or lookup to big bloggers and think, "Man, it must be so much fun to have that as your full-time job." Then you get into it and you're like, okay, a lot of times it is a lot of fun and I love the fact that I don't have to wake up and go to an office every day, but it's not always fun. A lot of times, it was just like, "I would really rather not do this today," and I don't want to turn music into that. I've talked to professional musicians and for a lot of them, that's what it becomes if it's your full time income. For me, it's like if I make some money off my music, cool, I've got some fun little goals in my impossible list like make $1,000 from royalties. I'm well, on my way. But I just want to be able to do it for fun and it's fun to have people actually listening so I put it out there and I make music videos and things like that, but it really is just a hobby. It's also the thing that I'm probably happiest doing when I do it. I just make sure to make it a priority in my life. Nice. I think that's a really good place to end this on because I imagine a lot of people watching this will look at you and me and think, "Oh, these guys make a full-time living from their creative thing. I kind of want that." Yes, it's nice and we're privileged for all the various reasons, but it's also not the only way to be creative. You don't have to make this your full-time job. Absolutely. I think Jessica Hische said something about this at a conference my fiance had gone to. I think she's on Skillshare actually. She's a very well known figure in the graphic design community. She had said like it is perfectly valid and maybe even better if you get a full-time job that you don't hate, because Cal Newport has this whole thinking about what makes a job fulfilling. If you find a job where your efforts are appreciated and you feel competent, you might not hate it, even if it's not your passion, it may be fulfilling especially if it gives you income and frequent enough free time to pursue your creative passions in a way that you feel like it's sustainable and that way, you're not reliant on those things for your living. That's a totally valid way to do it, and maybe even less stressful. Yeah. I guess what we're saying is if you're watching this and you're thinking of starting your creator journey, don't be held back by the thought that you have to make it a full-time thing. It's totally legit to have fun along the way, maybe you'll make some money off it, but it's actually preferable if you're not reliant on your art for your living. I'm actually curious when you got into content creation, did you intend to make money? I wanted to make money but I didn't want it to be my only source of income. Okay. I think I view monetizing stuff as another layer of fun on top of it. If I were to produce music, I would want to put it on Spotify because even if I make $2 off streaming royalties, that makes it more interesting. Yeah. If I had to make money off streaming royalties to survive, that would become a lot less interesting. Yeah, exactly, and music is, for most people, a lot less lucrative. Yeah. What I find is most musicians find themselves doing the same work we do, doing tutorials on music production, that stuff. I'm glad to be in this area than trying to make a living off of music but when I got into blogging I didn't care about money at all. I just liked writing and I looked up to people who were doing that work and I was like, "I want to do that too and only after I got established that I think about money. If we're ending here, that's the biggest piece of advice that I would leave people wit; if they're starting their creative journey, don't even think about monetization at first or at least you don't have to. Yeah. Because if you can focus entirely on building your craft and finding work that you can enjoy but that also builds an audience, once you get that audience to a certain size, then it's so much easier to think about monetization, but if you're thinking about it when you're getting 50 views a video, that's just brain space that could be used towards, how do I find stuff I like doing and how do I find ways to build my audience more quickly? Amazing. Great place to end this. Thomas, thank you very much for joining this bonus session and we'll put links to your Skillshare class and your YouTube channel and all your things in the Projects and Resources section down below. I think that's what it's called these days. I think so, yeah. Cool. Thanks for having me, Ali. Thanks for coming on. 19. Exclusive Bonus Materials: Hello again, how's it going? I probably look a little bit older than when you're watching this class because I'm filming this after the fact. Because just to let you know, we have just added an enormous amount of totally free bonus material over to my website, which facilitates all of the different skill share classes that we have here on the platform. So if you head over to Ali, forward slash Skillshare, resources that lingual appear here and also down in the projects and resources section or wherever you happen to be seeing this Skillshare often changes the structure of the website, so it'll be linked somewhere on this page and also right here, so you can go to that URL and that will give you access to a bunch more bonus information relating to all of the different Skillshare classes. For some of those that might be Notion templates for some of them might be PDFs and worksheets and bonus material. It's all on the website, it's all completely free and you can check it out with that link. Anyway. I hope you enjoyed the class. I'd love it if you can leave a review if you haven't already and hopefully see you in the next one. Bye bye.