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Time Management Techniques
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plughead



Joined: 30 Nov 1999
Posts: 542
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:33 pm    Post subject: Time Management Techniques Reply with quote

Hey everyone

Have tips to manage time and get things done?

I have NEWBORN TWINS, and I'm totally freaking out. However, I recently implemented some helpful techniques that are helping my bring Sarah Zero back off hiatus and still allow me to be a capable father:

1) THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE: Get a timer and set it for a block of uninterrupted time to do certain tasks (webcomic-related or just generic life stuff). Give yourself time limits on tasks you need to do, and stick with it. Unless diapers are exploding, your spouse knows not to bother you until you're done.

2) TIME AUDITING: Make a grid sheet, and track your time use every day and plot it into 15-minute increments. I see where my time is going, and I can find efficiencies I can implement. Knowing that I'm "always on-the-clock" helps make sure I don't waste any time.

3) ONE HOUR A DAY: Give yourself one hour (and ONLY one hour) per day to do something you really love, really want to do, and cannot possibly fit into your existing schedule. Make the time. When you're doing your one hour on your webcomic, you will NOT want to allow anything to distract you. Not even exploding diapers.

4) EMAIL + TWITTER: Check that shit only once per hour, not every time you get a new message, RT, fave or whatever. Turn off notifications if possible. It will help.

5) INTERNET + SOCIAL MEDIA: Set aside time to respond to posts, @ messages and DMs. Be quick and ruthlessly efficient. Learn to skim internet content and be more discretionary with the stuff you consume and get distracted by. See a 4-minute YouTube video that you just HAVE TO WATCH? Try skipping the first 90 seconds. You won't miss anything.

So. What techniques work for you? Tell, tell, tell!
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Stef

http://sarahzero.com
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vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 752

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My time management techniques:

1- I use Google Calendar. I print out my daily task list and agenda to make sure I keep track of everything.

2- I only check email twice or thrice a day, unless I am expecting something important. Then it's once every three hours. Twitter, Reddit, forums, G+, etc, I only check when I need to announce my updates and to chat with folks. If I do this more than once a day per site, I risk getting distracted from my work and it keeps me focused for marketing my work in a balanced manner.

3- I take two hours MINIMUM off everyday during my work hours to refresh and take care of me. I find that the break makes me more productive and focused on my schedule than if I work straight through. This habit has completely eliminated burn-out from my life. If I can't finish it in eight hours, I don't feel I am working effectively.

4- If I hate doing something, and I waste time dreading the task, then I hire or barter for someone else to do it, so I actually can be productive with my time. $10 for someone else doing flats and holds faster than me when I'm not in the mood, is totally worth the money I save in paid advertising when I am free to market myself.

5- I keep a journal and take 1/2 hour per day to do self-assessments to make sure I am working as efficiently as possible in completing my to-do list.

6- Work in batches and keeping a buffer. I usually try to get my comics for the week (and sometimes the month) done in a single sitting.

7- I only take business calls during business hours. Friends and family show up on the caller ID, and I only take those after hours.

8- I try to stay away from the computer and especially online activity, for as long as humanly possible.
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ttallan
Postpostpostpostpost!


Joined: 28 Feb 2008
Posts: 1128
Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know that I can give any genuine advice to you. When my first child was born-- just one at a time, mind you-- I fell off the comic bandwagon completely! Newborns were just too mentally all-consuming for there to be any room in my brain for any other thoughts other than getting the family through the day and somehow scraping together enough sleep-time not to be a complete zombie.

One thing that was crucial was the "Sanity Break". I don't think it's fair to call my first child "colicky", but he certainly wasn't one of those easy-going babies of myth and legend. I desperately needed some time to get away every day (provided by the helpful husband), even if it was just to the grocery store.

But the good news is, it really does eventually get better! So if you have to lay aside Sarah Zero for a little while, don't sweat it. Babies are hard, and there's you with two of 'em! The comic can wait. Smile
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plughead



Joined: 30 Nov 1999
Posts: 542
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey vaslittlecrow, those are some excellent tips. Thanks.

Hey Tara! You're right, the first 6-8 weeks can be an overwhelming challenge, though I think it's proving to be an awesome opportunity for me to clean up my act, time-wise. Now if only I would've this efficient back in my bachelor days!
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Stef

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katastrophe



Joined: 19 Aug 2008
Posts: 286

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just started using the Pomodoro extension for Chrome and it's helping a lot. I have a bad habit of switching to the browser "just to check email" and then remembering what I'm supposed to do half an hour later.

I instituted bedtimes as soon as I could -- around 3 months, I think. Knowing that the kidlet was going to pass out at 7 pm kept me sane. Scheduling, seriously -- knowing when you can work and for how long can keep you going sometimes, though kids being kids, they will of course screw with you (kidlet didn't fall asleep until nearly nine tonight, thanks to a combination of a screaming parrot and her Very First Tooth making an appearance this morning. And we nearly had parrot stew for dinner. Razz ) If you have the brand of kidlet that naps, try to schedule those too. Also, I hate you.

Learn to work on the go. About the time kidlet was born I convinced my husband I needed an iPad, and thank god. Even in those early months when I (as the food source) was on constant call both day and night and running on four or five bad hours of sleep, when she put her head down for five minutes, I could grab it and at the very least pop open Evernote and work on some scripts. ComicLife (which I use to put my strip together) has a quite decent iPad app too. Learn to work anywhere, and learn to have what you need to work in easy grabbing distance at all times.

Mostly, for me, it's been about cutting the fat. I have very, very little time now, between work, kidlet, and basic life maintenance (showers! They're not just for the weekend any more!) Dorking around on the Internet is a luxury I'm trying to train myself out of, because really the choice between "spend an hour working on the comic" and "spend an hour surfing Cracked.com" is a no-brainer. How I keep ending up choosing the wrong one is a mystery to me. Razz
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leth.hate



Joined: 22 Feb 2011
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Discipline, discipline, discipline. I guess it helps that I have absolutely no interest in Facebook or TV.
My week works like this:
Mon-Fri daytime I pencil the next page.
Mon-Thurs Night I ink the pencil work I finished the previous week
Sat-Sun I start writing the next chapter
Fri night I clean up the pencil work and get it ready for inking.

I have about 2 hours of free time a day and this is the only way I can keep on doing the comic.
Some compromises had to be made. My previous comics were done in full colour, but that no longer happens and I keep it all to a single A3 size page.
The writing had to be modified to allow single updates per week and still move the story along in a significant manner each page.
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plughead



Joined: 30 Nov 1999
Posts: 542
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey catastrophe
Nice tips, for sure! You're right that it's essential to be able to produce anywhere, any time. Typically, I need tons of undistracted, uninterrupted time, and I just don't have that anymore. If I get 5 minutes here, 20 minutes there, I really need to be prepared and able to capitalize on that, and NOT let it go to waste. Getting an iPad soon. Gonna script like a mofo on that!

Hey leth.hate
Yep, I'm not a FaceStalker/TV watcher, either; a total time sink. Who has time for webcomics cuz these digital crops ain't gonna harvest themselves! I love your idea of modifying the pacing of the story to match your output schedule. That's awesome, though I may have a real hard time with that because of the way I've set everything up, but it's worth a try!

Thank you both!
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Stef

http://sarahzero.com
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vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 752

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

plughead: You are most welcomed. Very Happy
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Lavenderbard
^_^


Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 837
Location: Ohio

PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't seem to find surfing the web much of a draw. But I've just discovered I have very little willpower when it comes to resisting the tempation of a partially completed jigsaw puzzle spread out across my dining room table.

Why oh why did my youngest decide that a good way to spend spring break was to pull out my largest, most elaborate 3D puzzle?

I did manage to reach page 100 of my Black Flag revisions today anyway, though. One third done, and it was by far the most labor intensive third. Yay! Very Happy
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jazylh



Joined: 18 Jan 2010
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's really interesting reading how you guys manage to segregate time.

As for me i can never keep a particular schedule. That's why I have a biffer of pages ready for my comic in advance. I work as a freelance Animator & Illustrator, so when work comes in there's never time to work on the comic. So there's no fixed schedule I can follo. But I do try to complete 2 pages a week as best I can.
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plughead



Joined: 30 Nov 1999
Posts: 542
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey jazylh

I know how ya feel. Freelancing is perhaps the most difficult challenge to effective time management. Work's not there when it's scheduled, and then suddenly, there's a panic rush job at 5:30 pm on a Friday that blows the entire weekend all to hell.
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Stef

http://sarahzero.com
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ttallan
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Joined: 28 Feb 2008
Posts: 1128
Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, did you have one of those this weekend, too? Laughing

Rush job + a zillion family commitments over a holiday weekend = no weekend. Other people may have had a holiday, but not me!
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plughead



Joined: 30 Nov 1999
Posts: 542
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha ha, so true, Tara.

Other people get stat holidays. We get "DO NOT PASS GO" days.
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TonyDiGerolamo



Joined: 10 Mar 2006
Posts: 362

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My wife just had knee surgery and then an unexpected long rehab. My technique was to cut out sleep, get ahead, crash. It worked for a while. Fortunately, my schedule got back to normal before the caffeine stopped working.
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plughead



Joined: 30 Nov 1999
Posts: 542
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Tony

Yeah, I've done that millions of times, and I can't pull all-nighters like I used to! Even late nights can mess me up for several days afterwards.
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http://sarahzero.com
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