September 2016 is almost to a close. The month has flown by quicker than I had anticipated. While a month going by so fast can be a bad thing, I found it to be mostly a good thing. I originally aimed for this month to be a time of buckling down on my some of my projects to complete them and make way for new projects. It did not turn out that way — instead, it offered insights into how I work and how I could more efficiently work.
Trying to Buckle Down & Reflection
If you read my last Re: 2016 Goals post, you know that I realized the failure of my projects on my part and getting overwhelmed came from being nearsighted with my projects and lacking good time-management skills. This called for some sort of planning.
The first thing I did was come up with some project overview sheets, which let me know EXACTLY what the projects entailed, including the deadlines and if I needed to do something additionally before starting (such as research).
Did It Help?
While it was/is definitely useful writing down the different projects and all the different parts of each project, I feel like they would be more useful if I took them out before I start each project just to review and reflect. Why don’t I?
I’ll admit some of it is laziness and some of its presentation. Right now, they are more or less loose papers held together by a paper clip. I think if I put them in some sort of binding (like a small binder or one of those report folder things), I would be more likely to take them out of where they are stored. Until then, I suppose, I should stop being lazy and just take them out. I really do believe having them out will help me.
While I always kind of had a vague sort of sense of daily planning — and sometimes my daily planning would end up on a sheet of scrap paper — it never was really solid. It was always loose. Sometimes it worked really well, but most of the time…not so much.
This time around, I decided to take my planning to the next level.
The first thing I did was to take my X-Minutes-a-Day checklists (15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour) and slightly revise them. Primarily, I made them more consistent with 5 tasks a day. Tasks I do frequently or should do frequently have their project names already typed in. The remaining spots on the page have a blank line and are open for different tasks. If I end up not doing a task that already has its name typed and have no blank spots, I cross out the name of the typed task and replace it with whatever I need to.
I have found in the past that these have worked for me. They help break down everything I do into smaller, more manageable chunks and help me to stay focus and not become overwhelmed.
The second thing was to make a Daily To-Do List sheet.
My sheet layout is inspired by the one used at my current day job, although mine is different in numerous ways, particularly because it is only for my tasks as oppose to tasks for other people.
For the sheet, I make notes of the specific project, the time allowed to work on it, a brief description, and the date that I am doing the project on. This is to help me figure out what I want to do for the day and how much time I am going to be spending on them. Once the sheet is filled out, I fill out the checklists I just mentioned with extended information.
In the beginning of the binder I have my daily planner in, I also put a Monthly Goals Overview sheet. This sheet is more or less a condensed version of the Project Overviews sheets and lets me know what I need to focus on.
Did It Help?
Yes and no.
It helped me stay on task, know what to do, block out time, and do it. It did not help me in the sense I still overestimated how much I could do in a day. On the flip side, I got much a clearer picture of what I was able to do in a day or two or three thanks to doing this.
I will admit September started out rough for me, as something triggered some really bad depression in me. Eventually, it passed though and I was able to get to work, but I was and am much further behind than I wanted to be. That being said…I did still get quite a bit done this month, despite that. Well, I say done, but I should really be saying “started” this month. Yep.
If you watch this video of mine, you will see my daily planner and how the progress changes:
You’ll notice at the beginning of the month, almost nothing was getting done. Towards the end of the month, more things were getting done. Perhaps not everything, but a lot more done (at least, on some days).
Why was this?
I reflected a couple times and realized that there was a difference between what I wanted to do versus what I could realistically do at the moment.
Originally, I wasn’t taking in factors outside my work, such as eating and other obligations. This resulted in a lot of stress and disappointment on my part. Once I started to factor in (at least, a part of the time) these other obligations, it became easier to complete tasks.
The other thing that I realized was that I needed to start with the most important projects first. It did not matter which project that was, but it had to come first. For the smaller, less important projects those had to come last. I was attempting to work on the shorter, easier projects first, but I found that was counter-productive. If I have a limited amount of time, I must work on the most important projects first. Then, if I have time, I can work on the smaller, less important projects.
- keep other obligations in mind while scheduling my own projects
- do the most important projects first; do the less important ones last
Well, first, I can tell you that I need to tweak my daily planner’s format a bit. The Daily-To-Do lists and Minutes-a-Day Checklists are fine in how they look. I do want to rearrange where certain tasks go on the Checklists, but that’s about it.
The Monthly Goal Overview is also not that bad. I forgot to format certain parts of it, so that’s what I’ll do this time around. I also want to make the goal sheet 10 projects instead of the 6, just to allow for more variety (if needed; like, for all I know, there will be a month of small projects, so I can do more).
I think for October, I’m going to add a monthly calendar and a weekly planner overview thing for the projects. I think part of my issue is that I didn’t choose one project to put most of my focus on. Like, I could easily do multiple projects in a day, but I feel like I need to choose one primary project and then do a bunch of smaller, but still really important, projects.
For instance, my two largest projects I am working on right now is my website and Make Me a Model. I could do both of those in a day in 3-hour intervals (which I have done; it is tiring, but possible), or I could pick one of them to do for 3-hours a day for a week and then switch over to the other one the next week or something. Filling those spaces could be artwork sketching or regular ol’ illustration line art, story writing, etc. I think it will work. I really think it will work.
If I do a weekly planner, I could choose at the beginning of each week which majour project I will focus on, if I do another majour project as well, and which smaller (but still important) projects to do.
Of course, this is just a theory. We will see how everything goes. I haven’t even drafted those up yet.
I’m sure some people will read this and still think I am over thinking and doing too much, but I don’t believe so. I believe that I am learning how to better manage my time so I can do more. Just from doing these daily planners, I am seeing what I am able to get done and what I am not able to, adjust my strategy, and move forward. It’s really helpful and it’s definitely something I needed.
The one other observance I made was the consequence of not knowing how long it takes me to do something from start to finish. This is particularly a flaw I’m seeing for Kelly’s Journey as I never really sat down and written an episode straight through, nor have I sat down and recorded from what time to what time I work on it. I think that is messing up my pacing and it’s something I absolutely must learn. Hmm…
Also, I found that I generally didn’t need to take a break because I didn’t work long enough to warrant me feeling stagnant. It’s pretty awesome. That being said, I DO want to put aside some time to work on other projects and whatnot. That would be cool. Like revamping a bunch of my older characters and assigning them homes and stories. Yep.
Why Didn’t I Just Buy a Daily Planner?
Did you guys not see how I formatted my pages? I would have to attempt to conform my writing to a planner created by someone else and I wouldn’t even remotely stick to it. I had to do what was best for me.
- I need to keep in mind other obligations when planning
- I need to work on the majour projects first, smaller projects second
- Try giving myself both a month and week overview to help guide me on what to work on
- Know how long it takes me on average to complete something from start to finish! It will help better with time management!
September 2016 Goals Completed So Far
Quoting Re: 2016 Goals –
For the September, I am learning responsive web design and redoing the entire TKN website. Again. I released with the release of MAKE ME A MODEL that I needed to cater to ALL screens, not just desktops and laptops. My deadline is September 30th. I have been attempting to relax for about a month and a half now, so I’m going to be gradually working my way back up to speed. And let me tell you, I want to get back up to speed! I hope to work on other projects a bit around the website redesign, but I do not expect me to.
I can definitely tell you the website is not done yet. It’s closer than it was before, but it is not done yet and unless I somehow manage to power through all my pages (I don’t even know how many pages I will need to do…but it’s a lot). I don’t have the artwork needed for it done. The test layout isn’t even completed yet for me to work off of. I am still learning, playing around, and fixing things up. I’m closer to being finished than I was before, but still not close enough.
Obviously though, from the video, you can see I still did some stuff this month so far (yeah, I know this month isn’t even over yet):
- I worked on the website and made my layouts, which as of typing this, just need some minor (?) adjustments and some additional tests before I can move onto the next stage;
- As of typing this, MAKE ME A MODEL pages 13 to 24 are FINALLY ALMOST DONE. I’m saving them as I’m typing this! I’ll make some announcements on my next posts related to this;
- Naitmarish Glimpse (Instagram/Patreon exclusive comic series) is almost completely sketched. I just need to put on the finishing touches
- I finished my digital kanji notes for Genki I, finally, after like…two years…
There were some other things too that are more minor that were at least started.
October, November, December Goals?
My goal for this year is simply to complete the goals I set out to do. In order to meet that goal, however, what do I need to do?
I think I need to first just layout all my goals on the table:
- complete my new website redesign (plus launch 3 new pages);
- get two 4-panel comics for Naitmaric and Fairolk started at the very least (10 each at a minimum);
- complete all Kelly’s Journey writing (new episodes, rewrites, and edits), by the end of this year;
- take notes on Lessons 13 to 16 for Japanese; complete Genki II if possible
- Get ahead with Make Me a Model;
- Get ahead with Naitmarish Glimpse and Fairy Glimpse;
These are the goals I originally set out to do. Were there others? Yes, like short story writing. However, that can come a bit later as that is not what I set out to do in the first half of the year. The FIRST HALF of this year are where my true goals lied; the second half was simply what I would like to do, but wasn’t set on it.
So, how do I complete all of the above? There is, what, about 12 more weeks left in the year (maybe my math is wrong)? How can I complete all of this in a timely manner?
Well, to me, the most important things on that list are my website, MAKE ME A MODEL, and Naitmarish/Fairy Glimpse. These would be the ones I would dedicate the most time to. That’s fine. 3 hours a day. For right now.
Well, September isn’t over yet. Naitmarish Glimpse is almost done.
…okay. I should probably like…not think this out here.
Let me just do it this way:
- Naitmarish Glimpse should be completed
this month (September)within the next few days and posted once a week in October on Wednesdays for Instagram and on Tuesdays & Thursdays for Patreon; Fairy Glimpse can be posted in November
- MAKE ME A MODEL will resume posting in November; I plan on starting October with gradually working on the next 12 pages and ending October with powering through them;
- My website’s redesign will aim for a November 1st, 2016 launch date;
- OH SHIZNIT, I FORGOT ABOUT COMMISSIONS! WHERE ARE THOSE GOING, UGH. Maybe an hour a day…almost done…almost done…
- I NEED to test Kelly’s Journey and see how long it takes me to write an episode. I MUST because that is what is killing me right now towards writing it;
- 4-Panel comics…I don’t know. I think I may work on those in November and aim for a January release
- Japanese…well, honestly, that’s pretty easy to do because it’s just notes and I’m not doing anything majour; just sit down for half an hour and type seems to do the job well enough
These Next 6 Days:
- Finish Naitmarish Glimpse (whatever I have out and ready);
- Continue working on my website;
- try completing Kelly’s Journey episode 26 this week;
- Get my website done. No exceptions. Really, it’s not that hard right now (I think…);
- Gradually work on MAKE ME A MODEL; have the next 12 pages 100% completed by the end of the month, although more can be sketched and lined
- Complete Fairy Glimpse (whatever I have written for now)
- Figure out how long it takes me to write a Kelly’s Journey episode so I can block about the proper amount of time to get them ALL done;
- Japanese notes, as stated above;
- both 4-panel comics, 10 each at a minimum; more is definitely welcome, but not required!
- Japanese notes;
- Kelly’s Journey;
- More Make Me a Model; get even further ahead!
- Work through commissions
- literally, just finish EVERYTHING that isn’t done yet. And I mean EVERYTHING!!!
Welp. This is going to be fun.
Keep an eye out for my next post because I am about to go into further detail about my new scheduling and why I am choosing to do so.
See you then!