One of the secrets of successful creators is that they’ve figured out how to create on a frequent basis.
Rather than one big project per year, they do one every 90 days.
Instead of a sporadic blog post, they publish newsletters twice a week.
Knowing that, the next question is “how?”
How are they creating more than others? *What’s their secret?*
My answer is simple: focus.
In this post, I’ll outline how I use focus in various timespans to create more than I did in the past.
What creative projects do you want to complete this year?
Without a long-term focus of everything that you’d love to create this year, you get pulled between whatever project comes in front of you and flashes a nice paycheck.
Every year I take one to two days to sit in this long-term focus. I write down what I want to create, how I want to grow my business, and how I want to grow as a producer - both a film producer and a content producer.
“What if this was perfect?” is a great question. What would your business look like if it were perfect? What would a perfect creative project look like? What would you need to improve in your creative life for it to be perfect?
The goal of this process is to create a longer-term vision that excites you to get out of bed every morning to work on it, and show you which direction you’re heading in your business so you can weigh options against that direction when they pop up.
Then, I check in every quarter on that annual focus.
Every quarter on the first day of the month (or second if it’s a Sunday) I sit down and review my annual goals and pick one to three projects that I want to focus on for the next three months.
Even a project as large as a feature film is about three months of my time, so if I wanted to have no life other than producing movies, I could do one per quarter.
My book took three months to write, then three months to edit and self-publish.
Getting Craftsman Creative off the ground took three months to build the site and create my first two courses.
Setting *goals* that take longer than three months doesn’t work. The time period is too long to stay motivated, the scale is too large to break it down into daily, actionable items.
90 days is a sweet spot. You can break it down into monthly and weekly goals, daily action items, and you can *feel* the progress you’re making every day because the finish line is never that far away.
To do this on your own, sit down with a notebook or open a new note, and just free write everything you’d like to accomplish and create in the next three months. Then pick the one to three that excite you the most, that you feel will get you closer to achieving your yearly focus, and that will help you have a greater impact on the world in the way you want to contribute.
If you stop at the quarterly focus level, you have these ebbs and flows that affect your momentum.
Get a bunch of excitement, start working, make progress, complete your projects, and then you have to start all over again.
Instead, by checking in on your quarterly focus every month, and your yearly focus every three months, you maintain the momentum you created at the start for much longer.
*Important note - take some time off! If you ONLY work, if you’re always going at 100mph, you’ll burn out. So make sure to build in time to take breaks, vacations, and get away from the work with your friends and family.*
Every month you’ll look at your quarterly focus and figure out how to make progress toward the completion of those projects and outcomes.
At this level of focus, you are putting things into your schedule. You’re adding important milestones for the next three to four weeks so you stay on track.
You know what’s already on your schedule like family trips, date nights, conferences, and other commitments that you’ll need to work around.
This becomes your game-plan for the weeks ahead and keeps you focused on making progress every day.
Weekly and Daily Focus
You take your monthly plan and each week review it to stay on track. Scheduling is the way to apply focus at this level.
Look at how much work you want (or need) to do this week to keep up with your longer-term focus, and **put it in your calendar**.
Put an hour a day into your calendar and protect it like a bear protecting their cub.
Write down what work you’re going to be doing that day as the name of the event, and show up on time and work for that whole hour.
At the end of the week you’ll have at least 5 to 7 hours of focused work on your creative projects, **and that’s all it takes**.
My book was written in three months in one to two hours a day, and in the process of writing that I *also* grew my audience by 600 people, my email list by 250 people, and did thousands of dollars in revenue directly from the process of showing up every day.
This is the time where the work happens. If you don’t show up consistently, every day, no excuses, then the work loses momentum and struggles to pick it up again.
Make progress every day, that’s it. That’s how you get a ton more done in your year.
Show up and treat your personal projects even more seriously than you would a project at work or for a client. Give them the time and respect they deserve, and you’ll build that momentum that takes you from where you are to a consistent creator.
When you do, that work starts to compound and grow and reach more people, and you'll make even more impact on the world around you.