I’ve recently come up with a new tool to enhance my productivity and creative output.
I call it: Charge, Explore, Maintain, Rest.
It can be used by just about anyone who needs to streamline their working life. But it’s especially helpful for filmmakers who tend to bite off more than they can chew.
I am one of those filmmakers.
At any given time, I usually have a film in development, one in production, and potentially another in post or distribution.
On top of that, I also dedicate a significant amount of time to my commercial production company and clients.
Then I have my blog, website, podcast, and newsletter to run. This is mostly fun work, but it is still a big time commitment.
While it may sound like a lot, each of these components play an important role in my pursuit of filmmaking.
Whether I’m spending time actually making a film, or doing something to support it – like building my audience or generating more passive revenue – it all serves as a foundation for my creative pursuits.
But juggling all of this can be a massive challenge, as there are so many tasks competing for my focus and attention.
Thankfully, the system I have designed has made it somewhat easy to balance all of this.
Here’s how it works:
Each week I assign a different label to each of my core tasks:
CHARGE = intense focus, the priority for the week
EXPLORE = moderate focus on an important long term project
MAINTAIN = light focus on ongoing tasks that need basic maintenance
REST = time off to reflect and come back with fresh eyes
Only one task can have the charge label on any given week, since it will dominate most of my working time. The other tasks can mix and match the remaining labels as needed.
For example, this week it looks like:
Feature FIlm = Charge
Cinecolor = Explore
Blog/Podcast = Maintain
Production Company = Rest
I am shooting scenes for my new feature film this week, so that obviously needs to take priority. By default it becomes my charge.
I’m working on lots of new things for the Cinecolor website, but most of them are exploratory creative tasks that don’t require intense amounts of time. Hence the explore label.
My content output (on the blog, podcast, etc.) needs to be maintained this week, but I don’t have any extra time to go above and beyond. So it is assigned the maintain label.
And on the commercial production side, I am taking a much needed rest. I am just coming off of several client jobs, so this is a good week to step back and focus on other things.
Before I had this system, if I took an entire week off from any of my core tasks, it would feel like I failed somehow. But now, it feels intentional, and productive in its own way.
It’s impossible to do everything at once, and to also do it all well.
By prioritizing in this way, I can focus my limited energy on what matters most for that week, with the peace of mind that everything else is accounted for too.
I also find it helpful to schedule these weeks about a month in advance. That way I can see it from a bird’s eye view, and make sure that I am striking the right balance between it all.
It’s a simple system, but it’s worked wonders for my productivity, and my state of mind.
Take from it what you will, and feel free to integrate this idea into your own weekly planning!