How to Batch Process Your Creative Projects
(Photos by Rachel Wakefield)
This post is Day 15 in the 31 Days to a Super-Purposeful Schedule series.
I just got done eating monster cookies. With chocolate chips. And M&M's. And my house smells really yummy because the littles and I just made a couple batches this afternoon.
Don't be jealous. Haha.
We hardly ever bake sweets because I have it in my head that it's a really huge project.
There are so many steps to take...looking up the recipe, making sure we have the right ingredients, measuring things out, mixing it all up, the baking time, all of the dishes, etc. Plus if I mess something up (which happens kind of a lot), we have to start all over and try it again.
But this time, the whole process went smoothly and only took about a half an hour. No forgotten ingredients. No burnt batches. No spills. Only perfectly-smelling and tasting cookies.
I promise, I have a point. Not just trying to torture you.
If you remember this is a bit like the first scenario I described from Day 9. What if I had told the kids, "Today we'll be making 24 cookies, guys. We'll bake them each one at a time to make sure they have an equal amount of M&M's in each one. It's going to take all day, but these bad boys are going to be perfect!"
I would be a very tired mommy with some very sad and hungry kids on my hands.
It sounds crazy, but so often we treat our creative projects this way.
Let's compare this example to your normal, everyday creative project. For me it's designing. For you maybe it's writing, creating artwork, crafting DIY projects, or editing wedding photos.
It's can be a bit overwhelming at times, right? Or at least really easy to put off because you know it's going to be time-consuming.
There are too many steps. Too many ingredients. Too many stages.
We work away at those huge jobs with a "one cookie-at-a-time" mentality without ever considering the idea of doing a batch. But what if instead of doing one project at a time, you could do two? Or four? Or six?
Note: This is NOT multitasking. Working on multiple tasks that are DIFFERENT at the same time is not good for productivity. But working on multiple things at once that are the SAME make complete sense.
Here's an example:
For my Christmas Card designs this year, I knew I wanted to have at least 6 new sets (24 cards total.) My typical workflow used to look like this:
- Card set #1 - Research, Moodboards, Sketch, Layout in PSD, Add Details, Save & Publish...START OVER.
- Card set #2 - Research, Moodboards, Sketch, Layout in PSD, Add Details, Save & Publish...START OVER.
- Card set #3 - Research, Moodboards, Sketch, Layout in PSD, Add Details, Save & Publish...START OVER.
Like baking cookies one at a time, I was spending way too much time on things that could have been grouped together. Now I batch process similar tasks and stages.
So it looks like this...
- Research 6 new ideas, Create 6 moodboards, Sketch all 6 collections...etc.
Working like this makes such a HUGE difference. What used to be months worth of designing can now be simplified into a few days time.
Your Project Workflow
What main steps are involved when it comes to the creative work you do? Can you group any of them together to save you time? If it's writing, can you outline all of your articles at once? Or for your DIY projects, could you shop for all the month's materials at once or paint multiple projects at once?
I use a task management app called Asana to get all my projects organized and LOVE it. Some other good ones to try are Trello and Nozbe. It's nice to see all of the steps and stages visually so you can better group them together.
Batch processing your workflow might make you have to plan ahead a little, but it also might save you the mental energy of planning the same things over and over and over.
Today's action step:
Set up your own creative workflow in a task management app like Asana, Trello, or Nozbe. Do a trial run with your upcoming projects and see if you can batch similar stages together this week. You can also use the space in your workbook to think through when you can work on each stage. (*Note: if you're already subscribed and are having trouble accessing this page, email me for a refresher on the password. xo)