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How to Make Time to Be Creative While Still Being Productive

How to Make Time to Be Creative While Still Being Productive

There are a lot of misconceptions about the creative process that people have. Those who appear to be more creative are seen as just being more creative than others. I believe that someone is more creative because have the ability to separate creativity from getting things done. Most people know that constraints such as time and business stifle creativity. How can you be creative if you are worried about deadlines? I decided to put a video together discussing how I try to make time for the creative process but also assure that I am still getting things done. My process is not perfect. Let me talk a bit here about what seems to work for me.

1. Schedule Your Tasks

If you are able to, schedule the tasks, meetings, and other items you need to get done so there is a clearly defined time that these things will be dealt with. If you do not schedule a time to do them, all you will think about is the deadline. Deadlines stifle creativity unless you take away their power by scheduling the tasks to be completed before that deadline. Take the power away from the deadline so you don’t have so much anxiety over it.

2. Schedule Time to be Creative

Remember those scenes in the tv show Mad Men where Don Draper seems to be up against a wall with a deadline and no idea so he just decides to take a nap? This happens in the first episode of the first season. Don seems overwhelmed with what is going on around him, so he just takes a nap instead. He wakes up, has an idea, and knocks it out of the park.

Don Draper Takes A Nap

Now I don’t think that naps will solve all of your problems with being creative, but I am sure that taking some time to recharge and clear your mind will. It’s hard to be creative when all you can think about is the deadlines and work tasks that need to be done.

I try to schedule some uninterrupted time that I can spend thinking and writing with the sole purpose of exploring ideas. This has to be a time where no deadlines or tasks can be done and no promises are made to anybody. You also need to disconnect to prevent distractions from coming up. I recommend not checking email for at least a few hours before you start this creative time because you do not need fresh reminders of upcoming things that are required of you. You need to have a fresh mind that is as clear as possible.

For me, being creative seems to come easier in the morning. I typically have more energy and nothing has happened yet that day to fill my mind with the needs of others. I have more mental bandwidth in the mornings.

3. Journal and Take Notes

How many times have you had an idea right before bed, not write it down, and it’s gone in the morning? This used to happen to me all the time until I started journaling and taking notes throughout the day. I use a combination of things such as Evernote, Trello, and a physical journal to keep track of my thoughts, ideas, tasks, and goals.

Evernote is great because you can use it like a notebook to take down ideas, make lists, and track goals. Since it’s an app you can put on all of your devices, you can load photos, audio, and sketch into it as well. I often take a picture of something I read that I want to remember later. You can use the search feature in Evernote to search text in images as well so the next time you see something cool in a magazine, instead of tearing out the page, take a picture of it in Evernote and store your thoughts along with it. I do this when I read as well. The image above I took with my smartphone and in Evernote, I highlighted the text I wanted to remember.

Check out “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”

Trello Board for YouTube Video Production

I use Trello to put my ideas into action. In Trello, I set up boards for different ideas. Those ideas are put on cards and those cards can be moved throughout the board. For videos I want to entertain making, I have a Videos board. On the videos board are different lists. Video ideas start off on the left-hand side in an Ideas list. This is where I dump any and all video ideas I come up with. Some of these ideas will never see the light of day. Other ideas will move down the board through other lists as they make their way to the last list on the right which is for Live Videos.

There are many tools out there to help with your creative process. For me, it’s getting the ideas out of my head so I can clear up mental bandwidth for other things. This is how we are able to push out multiple videos each week while still getting a ton of work done for our clients.

4. Get Active

This is the area I need the most help in. I used to have no problem getting to the gym, being active throughout the day, and maintaining some sort of activity at home. I recognize that when I am more active, I am more creative. I have read the research on how being active affects the brain, it’s just tough to actually make it happen. This is the area in my life I am most challenged. When I wake up, I just want to get to work. When I get home, I just want to chill and hang out with my family. I need to work more activity into my life because when I do, I am more alert and my mind is more pliable.

5. Give Yourself Some Downtime

One thing we don’t do much of these days in the United States is allow for some downtime. We are always in production mode and never go into R&D mode. R&D typically stands for Research and Development, but I like to look at it as Relax and Dream time. When I give my body and mind time to not worry about the needs of my clients or the mountain of tasks I wanted to complete, I come back from that recharged. Not only am I able to be more creative but I am able to get tasks done quicker and more effectively as well.

Being Creative and Getting Things Done

If you don’t plan to succeed you plan to fail. ~Benjamin Franklin

Flying by the seat of our pants doesn’t work. Not in today’s world. If you want to be more creative while at the same time expanding your ability to be more productive, you need to plan for it. I can’t say I have found that perfect plan or combination of things that result in the highest level of productivity, but I am working towards it. This process will never be complete. It’s something you constantly refine and work at. Eventually, something becomes too routine and is no longer effective so you have to change it up.

Work towards finding something that works for you. Try a few of the things I am doing to see if they help you be more creative while still having plenty of time to get things done.

If you have an idea or something that works for you that I did not mention, let me know in the comments section below.

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#1 Way I Demotivate Myself & How I Turn It Back Around

#1 Way I Demotivate Myself & How I Turn It Back Around

Sometimes I allow myself to get frustrated by the achievement of others or at least by what I perceive it as. Social Media makes it easy to fall into this trap and without becoming aware of it, I can easily find myself in a rut. In today’s video, I discuss how I demotivate myself and what I do to correct this behavior.

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50/50

50/50 Self Generated Income Goal

If you went 50/50 on something instead of just 100% on one thing, how could that change your life?

This may be a weird statement coming from a person who is self-employed, but my goal for 2017 is to transform my income stream. My goal is that by the end of the year, at least 50% of it will come from self-generated projects or products. This means that at least half of the income I earn this year needs to come from projects or products that I have generated, not from client work.

You see, since I started this journey as a self-employed person, I have made my income doing work for other people. Whether designing websites for businesses or photographing weddings, I am doing work that I was hired to do by someone else who had a need. I may own my own business, but I am working for others.

There is nothing wrong with doing work for other people. Our country runs on the trade of services for dollars. Ultimately, I want to get to the place where the majority of my income is generated from products and services I have created. I have spent the last 19 years of my life pouring my energy into the projects of others. I would moonlight occasionally on my own projects and have had some success with a few of them, but they always ended up on the backburner because client work paid faster.

So how do I plan to transform my income stream this year? Glad you asked.

I have a couple of projects that I will be working on a lot this year in an attempt to tip the scale toward self-generated income. A couple of these projects are still in the conceptual stage and I am not ready to share much about them. The other projects are already live and I will pour into them even more this year.

The first project is Ditch Auto. Four years ago, I filmed a course to help people get out of auto mode on their cameras so they could unlock the true potential of their cameras which are found in manual mode. Pro photographers use manual mode to properly expose and capture the image they see rather than the image the camera sees. I filmed this course in a day and did not anticipate it growing into a thriving photography community. Today, over 125,000 people have taken the course and we have a pretty active Facebook Group as well. Starting the beginning of this year, we launched a weekly photography challenge, which kicked off strong and is growing larger each week.

My plans for Ditch Auto this year include the modernization of the original course, creating additional courses, and growing the community to help people grow as photographers whether they want to be in business as a photographer, or enjoy it as a hobby.

The second project is State of Tech: In 2007 I started a blog where I reviewed iPhone Apps. Over the years that turned into a podcast that diversified into a variety of different mobile technologies. The last 10 years in the mobile tech space has taught me that many people still do not understand the technology they are walking around with each day. State of Tech has a small, but growing online community on Youtube and I intend to grow that following through the production of valuable content. State of Tech will also expand into a variety of educational courses geared toward helping people better understand and use their smart devices. I believe that Ditch Auto has more promise as far as generating an income goes, but there is a huge gap in educating people on mobile technology.

Project #3 is not a product that is going to help me meet or exceed my goal as mentioned above, but it will eventually contribute to my bottom line.

As I mentioned before, I have spent the majority of my adult life doing creative work for others. During that time, there are many tools and services I have become a professional in using. A few years ago, I started to work towards shifting the income stream of my company Hill Media Group. For years I was doing project-based work for a fixed fee. Once the project ended, I was paid and I had to find a new project. I still do a lot of project-based work, but about 25% of Hill Media Group’s income comes from ongoing work we do for our clients.

I realized that we are really good at handling tasks for our clients. When our clients deliver a clear task to us, we often can turn it around for them in a short period of time. The relationship we have with our clients that retain our services on a monthly basis makes it easy for us to prioritize their tasks and get them done.

Project #3 will be a new company that specializes in handling a variety of digital tasks for small businesses and organizations. I am partnering with a long-term employee and friend of mine to launch this. I am really excited about the concept and have already begun developing the infrastructure needed to manage this new startup company.

Growth through actual products, not affiliate marketing.

It’s not that hard to create a ton of average content and link to products to generate income. Nobody will make much money doing that. If you want to generate income from affiliate marketing you have to create fantastic content and a lot of it. While there is nothing wrong with generating revenue from affiliates, I prefer to generate content to market my own products.

I have had some limited success in affiliate marketing. When the Hoverboard was new and exciting, I filmed a review of my Hoverboard for State of Tech and the Amazon Affiliate link generated between $1,800-$2,500 for several months until Amazon removed all of them from their inventory. What I learned from that experience was that your affiliate income stream is only as good as the product. Technology changes quickly, and fads move even faster than technology does. It takes a lot of effort to stay ahead of the curve to assure you always growing.

Why do I need my income to be self-generated?

I’ll say it again: There is nothing wrong with doing work for other people. The products and products I want to create will be consumed or used by other people, but there is a difference. The effort I am putting into my projects and products are generated from ideas and inspirations that I had. I saw a need and created something. These projects and products will be for others to consume, but they will be something that I saw from conception to delivery. If it succeeds, it will be because I saw the problem and executed on a solution. If it fails, it will be a lesson in which I can not direct a complaint at anyone but myself. I need that kind of challenge in my life. It will be an exercise in generating more control over my destiny by executing on my own ideas instead of focusing on others. It sounds like a selfish move, but it’s really not. I will do more good this way.

For years I have also had a desire to share my financials publically. I used to be held down by debt and seemed to always be carrying a balance somewhere. Whether it was car payments or credit card debt, I had it, and somehow justified it. These days I try to keep my family as close to debt free as possible. Though it is not always possible (yet), we are closer than ever. I plan to share some of my financial information as it pertains to achieving the goal mentioned above. Stay tuned for more information on that.

Goals!

Shortly after turning 30 and having a few kids, I made this list of things I wanted to achieve over the next few decades. I called it my challenge list and I have not done a very good job of working on achieving those challenges. Now I could give myself the benefit of the doubt and blame it on being a busy business owner, husband, and father, but I’m not going to do that. The whole idea behind this list was that I would attempt to achieve some of these things while maintaining the life I am living. No excuses. So in 2017, I am going to start crossing off some of the challenges from the list. I encourage you to check back often and if I seem to be slacking, please call me out on social media.

A Challenge

My main goal for 2017 is to slide the revenue scale away from client-based work to my own projects and products. If you could slide the scale away from 100% and closer to 50/50, what would that look like, and how would it change your life? I’m not just talking about income, but anything. Perhaps you want to change your diet or travel more. How can you slide the scale toward doing that more?

If you could, take a moment to think about that. If you have a thought or an idea, share it in the comment section below! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for sticking around to the end of this post. If you want to follow along as I work toward my goal, make sure to follow me on social media. You can find the links on this page.

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Money Ain’t The Motive

I can’t honestly start this post off by saying money has never been a motive of mine. When I was younger, money was a motive. I wanted to make more of it, so I could buy things. Money was not talked about as it is today. There were no podcasts on finances. Only people older than your Dad were talking about it. What we did have was the beginning of what MTV and the influence rap music was having on us. It was all about money and getting it any way possible. After maxing out a credit card and slaving to get it paid off, I had learned my lesson. I did not like being a slave to anything. What took me many more years to learn was how to actually save money. There always seemed to be something I wanted and I never had enough money to have what I wanted and save money at the same time.

In my early 20’s, one of my businesses required me to work long hours. It was a lot to have on your shoulders. The retail space is hard but stack two online businesses on top of that, plus some freelance work and it was too much for one person to handle. What I didn’t mind at the time was not having much overhead. I worked my butt off and was able to keep, I mean spend most of the money myself. I had an HD TV before you could even watch anything in HD. Stupid stuff like that. I had became a slave to something else, my business. There are many other ways to lose some or all of your freedom and I have experienced some of those as well.
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4 Points to an Empowered Life

empowermentWhen I read, listen to podcasts, attend seminars and talk to personal coaches the term empowerment always comes up. Whether it be empowering ourselves or others the word seems to be on the tongues of many. I recently attended the GiANT Impact Seminar led by John C. Maxwell and all of the speakers mentioned the word. I typically take a lot of notes and this seminar was no exception. The speakers were top leaders in our World today and they had some real gems to share with us. If I had to boil down many of the good points made at this seminar to four points here is what they would be.

1. Be Self Aware
Know who you really are. We all have an idea of who we think we are but it is not always the way others see it. Get some 3×5 cards and give them to your friends. Tell them to write down the first 10 words they can think of that describe you.

2. Have Clarity
Get clear about what you really value and stick to them. Post them on your wall, your website, your business card. Make sure they are visible and most importantly that you stay accountable to them.

3. Get Motivated
Find out what motivates you and what drives that motivation. Surround yourself with what motivates you to accomplish goals.

4. Have Support
Build a support team around you. Ask friends, family or co-workers to hold you accountable and check in with you. Give them permission to put you in check if they see you are getting away from your goals or values.