Real Productivity: Create Your Ideal Week | Michael Karnjanaprakorn | Skillshare

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Real Productivity: Create Your Ideal Week

teacher avatar Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Founder, Skillshare

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

Watch this class and thousands more

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

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Key Ideas


    • 3.

      Demo: Calendar Walk-Through


    • 4.

      4 App Types to Try


    • 5.



    • 6.

      More Productivity Classes on Skillshare


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About This Class

How do you take control of your calendar—and become a productivity superstar?

Join Skillshare co-founder and CEO Michael Karnjanaprakorn as he shares his rules for maximizing productivity, crafting an ideal work week, and building short-term systems for long-term success.

Fueled with years of research and trial-and-error, this short class is packed with rules and tools, including lessons on:

  • Building a "Plan, Do, Review" strategy
  • Exercises for prioritizing tasks
  • An "Ideal Week" calendar demo
  • 4 app types everyone should try

This class will be useful whether you're freelance, full-time, or searching for a way to balance many projects at once. You'll gain a toolkit for personalizing your productivity system and accomplishing work that drives real impact—every day, every week, every month, every year.



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Michael Karnjanaprakorn

Founder, Skillshare


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1. Introduction: Hi. My name is Michael Karnjanaprakorn and I'm the CEO and Founder of Skillshare. Today, I'm going to teach the class on productivity, but specifically on how you can manage your calendar and find out your ideal workweek. For me, productivity is around maximizing your time to work on the most important things, so that you can accomplish a lot more. A lot of my interest in becoming even more productive really started professionally from my time working at Behance and researching a lot of the most creative teams and individuals, to being an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur and being a CEO of a company, I have to be a productivity nut and I have to be obsessed with it because where I spend my time, really can change the direction and the outcomes of our company. So, some of the things we're going to talk about today, is obviously how to set your ideal workweek. We're also going to dive into different systems that you can use to organize your tools and how you prioritize your day. So, here's the most important framework for how you plan your ideal week. So, for me, I call it Plan-Do-Review model. Another way you can think about, is the three by three by three. Three priorities for the week, three priorities for the day, three wins for the week. That simple framework will provide a lot of structure for how you plan your ideal workweek. For me, I have a very, very set routine that I follow pretty much every week and I'm always tweaking it. But it gives me a lot of structure and it allows me to build a lot of new habits that I can build on top of previous habits that lead to great work. I study a lot of different systems, a lot of different processes and I adapted a lot of them to how I like to work. I would really encourage every student to find those few nuggets and those few gems that really resonate with you and build on top of those over time. 2. Key Ideas: So, there were periods where I had multiple systems. I would definitely say, that does not work at all. I'm sad to have multiple places, where I keep notes and have multiple notebooks. I would have multiple TutuApps. I'm pretty sure a lot of you fall into that trap, where you're using your favorite TutuApp, and another TutuApp came out, and you started testing that out for a couple days and your tutu were there. You wake up the next day, and you have no idea what you're supposed to work on because you spend so much energy and so much time trying to find out where all your notes are. That's really inefficient. You think about your energy, you think about time wasted. In that period when I had multiple systems, I realized it because I would always find something wrong with the system. I looked at this new solution as the way to fix that, because they're all going to have their pros and cons. Then once you really realize that, then you can just stick with one system. For me, I always try to have one source of truth, where rather than using 500 things, I only use like two or three. All my notes go on one now, all my tutus going to another. You just need a system, you just need a set of processes, a set of habits, a set of things that you do consistently every single day, every single week, every single month, every single quarter, every single year. You know, I always have a saying that, "Every day counts." So, even if you want to take a day off, you know that that day counts for your recharge. If you need to be really, really productive in a day, you need to have your system of how you want to tackle that day. For me, it's just good to have that systems, so that I can fall back on it. So, I know, if I'm trying to figure out what to do next, I know where it is, I know where to look. It allows me to figure out and answer the questions like, "What am I supposed to be doing right now?" So, as I started thinking through how I would design my ideal workweek, a constant theme that kept sticking out to me was like, "How do I take control my own time? How do you control my own calendar?" I'm pretty sure a lot of you have been at work, and gotten tons of meeting invites. The next thing you know, your whole calendar looks like Tetris. They are just meetings, on top of meetings, on top of meetings and you'll go to all them. End of the day, you'll look back and you feel kind of productive, but you can't really point to anything that you've done. I realize that, if I didn't take control my own calendar, that would be the end result of that as well. That's why I started really thinking through, "What is my ideal workweek? What does that look like and how do I take control of my time?" So, when you're thinking through your own personal system, and how you want to make your own ideas happen, the number one rule I give to everyone, is always, always start small. So, especially if you're sitting out there, and you're really ambitious, and you have a great vision of what you're trying to create in the world. You see you want to swing as hard as you can, and you know really go for it. But, what I've realized from my own experience that can become very overwhelming. So, let's use habits as an example, if you're trying to change way too many habits, it becomes really overwhelming. If you're not doing any of them well, that's really demotivating as well. But, imagine if you just focus on one thing, and you did that really well, and then you build on top of that, and you build on top of that and then next you know, maybe over a year you adopted 12 new habits. That's really, really crazy to think about because changing any habit is really, really difficult. So, for me I always say start small, drive with as much momentum as you can, because that first crank of the wheel is really, really hard. But, after you start gaining that momentum, it becomes easier and easier and easier. So, every December, I go through a whole process, where I set my annual goals. They're usually about three to 10 depending on what I want to focus on for that year. From there I focus on doing a quarterly review, where I review the progress I've made so far on it. Then from there, I have a system every single week, that make sure I move the ball forward on those angle goals that I set. You could start this at anytime, right. So, there are times where maybe in April, a goal that I set and I'd change my mind about it now, or I never got to it and just figured, I'll just delete it. Or there are times I hit my goal in March, and that's great. From there, I have the option of resetting the goal or just letting you sit there. So, I would say, you can do it whenever, but the lesson it's really have a system, and really thinking about how you want to work towards it. So, here's the most important framework for how you plan your ideal week. So, for me I call it the Plan Do Review models. Another way you can think about, is the three by three by three. So, three priorities for the week, three priorities for the day, three wins for the week. That simple framework, will provide a lot of structure for how you plan your ideal work week. For everything in my career, I always have a rule three. So, I make recommendations, I try to narrow down to three. For my productivity, I also have a rule three. The rule three is very, very important, because it forces you to prioritize. Right, so there are only 24 hours in a day, seven days a week. There are hundreds of things you won't accomplish. Maybe, it can become very overwhelming. I always focus on three big wins, three big outcomes for the week, three big task for the day to move forward on that. No matter what, I try to do those three things, I try to accomplish those three things. So, as many of you guys will feel, when you feel very overwhelmed, is probably because you took to do this so long that it is, if you just focus on the most important things, you will always end your day feeling great. One way I really think about how to prioritize my time, within the rule three framework, is putting a dollar amount on every single task that I'm doing. Those task can be worth $10 per hour, $100, $1,000, or $10,000 or even a million. Once I start bucketing those things out, it allows me to really prioritize my day. For me, maybe what I would put in the $10,000 per hour bucket would be working on a company's strategy or recruiting a key executive. Maybe a $10 per hour bucket would be, booking plane tickets or responding to an e-mail. Then, when you start really looking at that, you'll start really prioritizing where you spend your time. What I like to do, is that I like to take everything in the $10,000 per hour bucket and make sure those things are in my calendar, and I make time for those. Obviously, I'm going to have to do all the other things as well, but I'm working from the right side of the quarter and working my way of left, versus working on the $10 per hour task and working to the right. A trap that most people fall in, is that they feel that they're really productive, because they're really busy. You can be really busy with a lot of $10 per hour task, which at the end of day, won't move the ball forward as much as working on $10,000 per hour task. The dollar amounts are just arbitrary. You could put a million dollars per hour, but the idea is that you're bucketing the different tasks that you do in those different buckets. So, I've shared a lot of different frameworks, and systems, and principles and ideas, and rules that I follow. Up next, we're going to do a deep dive into my calendar, and work away some actionable steps, and how you can apply this to your work week as well. 3. Demo: Calendar Walk-Through: This is an overview of my calendar, and I would say the most important rule that I follow in thinking about your week is to always carve out time. For me, I always focus on making sure that the things that I want to work on are actually scheduled into my calendar. So one, that allows me to know when I'm going to work on it until I actually have time to work on it. For two, it prevents people from putting things on my calendar that might be important to them but it's not necessarily important to what I want to accomplish that week. Obviously, I use Google Calendar on the desktop and into my phone. I think it's really simple to use. I experimented with a lot of other calendar products, but going back to the rule around having one system. I'm also already pretty heavily integrated with Google, so I just felt that using other Google products was the best route to take. If you look at my calendar, you'll see that it is color coded. So anything that's in gray are recurring meetings. So these are meetings that I schedule for myself. These are meetings that I have to go to for teams. Anything yellow is a signal that anyone could put a meeting in that time block. Anything in red are like task or things I do on a day-by-day basis. With that structure, I'm going to dive deep into the three by three by three. So, I walk you guys through what I actually do within those. So when I come into work on a Monday morning, the first thing I do is I start planning on my week. So, I'll spend a little bit of time, I'll review the goals that I had. Then I'll review last week's progress, and then I'll start focusing on what are the three outcomes that I want to have. So for me, I actually break down my three into work and personal. So, I have three things I want accomplished for work that week, and maybe three things I want to do personally. As I'm thinking about time boxing things, it'll range in here from 30 minutes to 90 minutes, and I like time boxing things because it's a forcing mechanism for me to get as much as I can done in that time frame. When I'm doing my planning session on Monday morning, I'm really thinking through what are the wins, what are the accomplishments I want to celebrate on Friday? That really helps me really focus on the right outcomes, right? So, I can definitely say like, "Hey, I want to make sure I've inbox zero." But that's how we're going to move the needle on some of the big milestones I want accomplish, or I can say, "I really want to finish this edit for this new film that I'm making and submit it to Sundance, and I want to accomplish that this week." You can imagine there are hundreds of things you're going to have to do to make that happen. But the best way to think about it is on Friday at 6:00 PM, you're going to grab a beer, you're really going to celebrate something that you accomplished that week. So a great example of that, let's say, this week I wanted to write a new article on how to hire a place for your team. If that's my number one priority, the first thing I would do is I'd figure out when I would want to do that. So you can see, I have time blocked out for deep work. For me, I like to do deep work earlier in the day because I'm more creative, my energy level is much higher. I always feel like your brain is like a gas tank, and as the day goes on, the gas tank can drop to E. So, I like to do a lot of the deep work when it's on full. So I'll say, maybe on Tuesday I wanted to work on that, so I'll type in task maybe, flush out outline for an article. Usually I'll block that out on maybe 30 to 45 minutes max hour so you could see that I'll maybe do that for an hour here. Maybe on Thursday, I'll go ahead and say, write first draft of article, and that maybe take in 30 minutes. Then maybe the following day, I could review and finalize article. Let's say that's going to also take an hour. So, you can see that, if that was my most important thing, what I essentially just did was, I blocked out three hours for the week to make sure that I move the ball forward on that. You can see, it was also the first thing that I'm going to work on, and the first thing I tackle when I get to work. So, another great examples, personally I always have a workout goal. Let's say when you workout three, four, or five times this week. I'll set that and then I'll actually put that into my calendar. I found that just putting into your calendar, if you sign up for classes, booking it just kind of forces you to go do it. So let's say today, now I wanted on Tuesday, I wanted to run. So, I'll put that on my calendar. Maybe tomorrow, I want to go to yoga, so I'll put that in my calendar. I'll just kind of do that over and over again and I should plan that out. Maybe on Friday, I just don't feel like working out, so I'll delete that. So you can see, I'll plan out my work goal, my personal goal, and you'll see that's in my calendar as well. So, I'll do that on Monday and then every single day. I also have three big priorities for the week. So Tuesday, maybe is flush out. I'll outline for this. Maybe I also need to work on task number two, so I'll make sure I block that out. Maybe task number three, let's do this hour and a half. You can see that I've already blocked out time in my calendar to accomplish those things, and you also see I have a lot of open time as well. So anyone can schedule meetings with me, if they're necessary. Now, I usually like to stock my meetings at the end of the day, after I accomplished the most important task I need to do. As I'm thinking about time boxing things, it'll range in here from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. I like time boxing things because it's a forcing mechanism for me to get as much as I can done in that time frame. Then on Friday, I usually at the end of the day, after a long workweek, I'll load up the Google Doc, and I'll just answer three questions. One is, what are the big wins for the week? What are the big misses or learnings from the week? Then three, what are my priorities for the following week? It literally takes five, 10 minutes to write, and when I come in on Monday, it's a great way for me to review that thing, that doc on Friday as well. The hardest part of the three by three by three system for me is the Friday review. I'm still experimenting whether I like it at five, or whether I want to do it in Friday morning or Friday afternoon or Saturday or Sunday. But the hardest thing for me is after a long workweek, the last thing I want to do is sit down on my computer and do a reflection. But I do find that the Monday planning, I do that religiously, so that works really well for me. I used to do that on Friday afternoon, and I moved it to Monday morning. But I would find that if you keep experimenting with your system, you'll find something that works for you. I do keep open times in my calendar for anything that comes up last minute that's super urgent. So, let's say that there is a really important meeting so they email me on Wednesday morning, they want to meet me immediately and I have to take that meeting. First thing I'll do is like, do I have to meet with them at nine? Can I meet with them later in the day? So that's actually the first thought process I go through, is it that important? Is it that urgent? Most of the time, the answer is no. I'll offer them, can we meet at two? Can we meet at five? Can we meet tomorrow, anytime after 1:00 PM? Usually, that usually works out. So, I'm very, very protective of my time, especially when I have things really ironed out. I now move them very rarely, but when I do move them, I'll move them into a different slot. Let's say, that your calendar does not look like mine, right? So this is three to six months of transition to get my calendar to have this much free time and space to do and work on the most important things. The first thing I did is, I just look for one meeting to just delete out on my calendar. Everyone could find that one meeting that you just find really, really ineffective or inefficient. A second tip, I would definitely encourage is that, it's so easy to say, "Hey, let's throw 30 minutes in your calendar and talk about it." What I usually do, my response to that is like one is, "Do we have to meet? Can we talk about this by email? Can we talk about it via Slack?" I'm always looking for reasons to not have meetings, and stay very, very productive on my calendar. You might notice that, I actually have clear my email inbox at 6:00 PM everyday. So, I try to check my email no more than three times a day. So maybe once in the morning, just do a quick scan and make sure there's nothing super urgent. Maybe mid-afternoon for a couple of minutes, to make sure there's also nothing urgent. But I always check my email and really respond to them at 6:00 PM that day. I view email as the $10, $100 hour task. It is important part of any job, but nothing's that important or that urgent to disrupt your flow throughout the workday. If you're starting off and you feel very overwhelmed with any system, especially this one. I would maybe focus on three outcomes for the week. I think it's a little bit harder to figure out. But once you figure that out, you can just focus on whether you've got those three things done throughout the week or not. I find that just focusing on that will cover a majority of the things they need to do, as far as productivity. 4. 4 App Types to Try: One thing to note is, I love trying out new apps. I'm always like on Apps Store downloading new apps. Always asking my friends what they're using. I'd like to share some of the apps that I'm using for myself. Here's the first one is "To-Do" Apps. So I've tried all of them. Todoist. Microsoft came out the new one called To-Do. But my app, to do app of choice right now is Things, has all the features I'm looking for, but I've found that that is really easy for me to just go in and drop all my to-dos in there, and I also drop ideas I have been there as well. I'm not looking for one specific thing. I'm looking for like a multitude of things that support the system like their design. So, great example for those things has a whole section run today which makes a lot of sense for anyone that wants a part. That's what they're trying to focus on for the day, have a great section, we can add notes. I love adding notes and some things, ideas I'm fleshing out. The third is, it's just really fast. It's on every single platform. So, it's on my phone, it's on my computer. I can widely assess it. Is in the Cloud so I would worry about getting lost. But at the end of days is really, really simple and doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but for the features that it does have definitely the essential ones I need. With that, I love using things I would highly recommend it. It does cost money. But if you're looking for free to do app, I would definitely recommend Todoist [inaudible] To-Do for Microsoft. I would say one of my favorite things to do is reading. I love reading. I love constant learning. I love getting different perspectives. But obviously, I think we all fell into that example where you might be at work and you saw an email your great article you are supposed to read and you might forget about it or you might start reading and reading and becomes a huge distraction. So I love using Pocket, because it allows me to save every single article that I want to read. That sent to me at a time where I`m in the mindset you actually can seem all that content. For me that's typically Saturday morning where I go through which all other articles I stay throughout the week. Grab a coffee, go to the park and just read through all those articles. There is a pier right tried out. Every single habit out and I ended up using HabitBull, which is basically an app that allows you to track your habits on a daily basis. So, now let's say I want to track cooking etc. Every single day, I will open the app, I'll just click, I check mark I says I'm intrigued that day. I love it because it's really simple. It's really awesome to see all the progress that you made. But also allows you to be very aware of the habits that you're tracking. I typically tried track one habit a month, and if I do that, well, I'll stack another habit on top of that. So, habit tracking is pretty powerful for productivity, because I think there's a rule of thumb that says, "If you track a habit and you do it every day for 66 days then it becomes normal. It becomes second nature to you. By getting to that 66 day is really, really hard. So, for example, when I try to cut out soda, the first week was really hard. I got headaches. I was really exhausted. I was moody. I realized my body was just reacting to cutting out something else or used to drinking. But, I think I'm on my 200th day today, and I couldn't imagine a world where I would never drink soda. Now it just seems so disgusting. I think the reason is because I focused on developing this new habit and seeing the daily progress, be able to say that you're on the forty second day and you only have like 24 more days to go, I was a huge motivator. For note taking, for work, we used Google Docs and for my personal notes I use Dropbox Paper. It's a great app. It's fast. It's intuitive. I like their writing experience there. So, I'll typically use Dropbox Paper and that's actually where I keep all my goals. I'll use it to write articles. I'll use it to jot down ideas. But I would say Dropbox Paper from my personal documents and Google for work is where I can usually keep all my documents. As some people use Evernote. So that's something I would definitely recommend. They have a great feature, which I think it's a killer feature. If you write anything down and you take a photo, automatically search transcribing it into Evernote. If I wrote down Saturday night, and you took a photo of that and you search in Evernote you would actually show up the document that you wrote on which I think is crazy. But then there's also analog. So, I know a lot of people use notebooks. I still to this day also use notebook as well. So, whatever works for you, but the idea is like a place where you can jot down ideas, flesh ideas, sketch, draw, write, whatever you need to do, take ideas in your head and put pen to paper and then from there what I'll usually do is I'll transcribe that digitally. Whether I take a photo through Evernote or I'll literally hand write it into Dropbox Paper. Yes, so when you're thinking through your productivity stack there's no wrong answer. So you could do analog, you could do digital, you could do a variation of both. But the most important thing and you keep it very, very simple, and you don't change it. For most of you, the more simple the better. So, just focus on the things that work for you and keep it as simple as possible. 5. Closing: Now, that the class is coming to end, we went through different systems. We went through Design Your Ideal Workweek. But the biggest takeaways I would say for any of the students is one is to always start small. Right. So, don't try to tackle too many things at once. Focus on one thing, do that really well and then build on top of that. The second is, the concept around a three by three by three or a system around privatization around the role of three. So, focusing is three outcomes for the week, three outcomes for the day, and three wins for every single week or some variation of that. Lastly, just have one system. Have one single source of truth, have very few tools and that there are pros and cons every single system, but pick the one that works for you and don't change it. At the end of the day, it really comes down to the ability to plan do and review. So, make sure whatever your system is, wherever you're starting, being able to plan out your week, your month, your year, being able to do those things, and being able to reflect on those is the simple formula for any system that you're going to incorporate into your day-to-day. I'd love to hear from you, I'd love to hear what works in the project session. Feel free to upload your ideal workweek so others can get inspired by how you're scheduling your day and your weeks and your month. I'd love to hear any systems that you're working on, anything that you guys like. I'm always looking for things to incorporate into what I'm doing and the more we share the more we learn. 6. More Productivity Classes on Skillshare: