When I’m working on any single project, I’m becoming bored pretty quickly. I’m sure that a lot of people will empathize with this feeling. When a project is fresh and new everything is interesting about it. However, when the newness is gone, and you’re actually doing the day-to-day routine of just hardcore work, it can become pretty dull.
I experienced this, especially during my project management days.
Currently, I’m working on in 4 projects:
- community finder – a platform for discovering online communities, community building tools, events and more.
- community finder podcast – a podcast where I talk with community builders about their experience in building, growing and nuturing an online community,
- recoonFM – an innovation platform and community for podcasters.
- ongoing freelance software engineering.
You can only imagine the number of tasks, schedules, meetings and tools involved in all of them. From a logistical standpoint, this easily can be described as A TOTAL MESS! And you’ll be right.
For about 5 months, everything went shenanigans, with staying awake till 3 am and significant insomnia issues.
Things started to take a turn when I revisited one of my favourite books, a 4-hour workweek by Tim Ferriss. I read two years ago, and at that time, I was not working for myself, and this was an exciting read. However, right now, as I’m working only on my personal projects, I looked at the book with a different point of view.
How to organize a day or even a week, so you can spend less time planning and more time on actually doing stuff?
When you’re doing your own business 90% of the time, you have to deal with small things, like remember to follow up on an email, schedule an interview, do social media posts, promote the new blog post, etc. The answer to this almost rhetorical question is automation and routine.
What processes can you automate?
- creating a meeting,
- sending a follow-up email,
- posting on social media,
- tasks/deadlines reminders.
With this post, I’m going to share the routine I’ve created after a few trials and errors. This is how I’m automating simple processes of content creation for all my projects.
Declare a content creation day
Currently I’m choosing every week which will be my “content creation day” based on the ongoing load. Before I was trying to do a separate day for everything (separate day for blog writing, separate day for meetings, separate day for promotion and etc) but now I’m more planning on the go.
Each week on Sunday or Saturday evening I’m doing rough planning of the week, deciding when I’m doing sofware engineering and when I deal with content.
Of course some things are done on the go, for example I’m trying to be semi-active on my community for podcasters, but other then that everthing I try to do in some order.
For Community Finder I have the following tasks:
- add new communities to directory – while adding new communities to the platform are not that time consuming, they can become so when I get a lot of submissions at the same time.
- curate links for the newsletter – I’m adding all the links I find intereting to a separate airtable base to easily transfer them into my newsletter.
- email to the people I want to feature in my newsletter,
- assemble a weekly newsletter and send it.
- very rarely write a unique content for this on the website blog or on indiehackers.
The most time consuming task for the Community Finder project is the newsletter.
The Community Weekly newsletter is sent out once a week (before it was bi-weekly but the newsletter grew and I decided to make it weekly to make it more digestible).
The assembly of the newsletter takes easily 2-3 hours (without counting the featured sections correspondence), and is the bulk of the work for this platform.
My newsletter has sections:
- newcomers – the communities that just joined the platform,
- community tools – useful tools for community builders,
- community events – public events from the communities or useful events for online content creators.
- top content – interesting content pieces that I found around the web,
- podcast – the episode of my podcast that aired that week.
All of this is conviniently stored on my Airtable base for newsletter, from which I just copy and paste the information to my newsletter.
The fun part comes next, each of this sections has a “Featured” subsection. What does it mean?
I reach out to the person who’s content/event/podcast episode I want to feature in my newsletter for a “special note for my subscribers”, and I’m adding each of this features in a separate colored subsection. Yup this sounds a bit crazy but it is.
Again with all this semi-automations and routines I still have 3 hours to do this routine.
For Community Finder podcast I have the following tasks:
- talk to potential guests of the podcast, schedule meetings, manage some ongoing relationship – I’m using Twitter, some niche communities and my community finder submissions as resource to find guests. Usually I’m DM-ing people on social media and it takes around 30-40 minutes to decide if we record an episode together or no. I’m sending onboarding form to my guest where they mention all the info they want me to share in my show notes.
- recording a podcast – for this I have a separate day. My podcasts are usually 1 hour long, and also I need to prepare for it an hour or so in advance to assemble the questions and see what direction I want this episode to go. I’m using Squadcast for recording.
- edit the podcast episode – I try to edit the episode after the recording, because if I don’t do it, the episode can sit round for a week or two. I really don’t like the process, but Descript helps me with it. It’s a magical tool that transcribes the audio and also helps to edit the audio by editing the transcription.
- create show notes and transcription – as I mentioned I use Descript for transcription, but also I use this time to take notes about things that we talked about and add it into my show notes.
- publish the new episode and distribute it – I’m using Transistor to host my podcast. The hosting and publishing part is the most pailess part of the podcasting process. I just copy paste the show notes I done during the editing process, and I add information about the guest from the onboarding form.
Thankfully I publish 2 podcast episodes a month so the 8 hours that I spend on each episode are not that visible in my day to day routine.
For RecoonFM community I have the following tasks:
- weekly calls with my co-founder.
This project is a bit different, because I’m lucky enough to share most of the tasks with my co-founder. We’re doing daily check-ins which we hope to reduce when we become more stable, and coordinate our actions in the holly place which is Notion. So I have a bit of a leg here.
- daily activity in the Recoon community.
This doesn’t really take time, because I’m just poping up if necessary and answer some questions.
- listen to the podcast episodes for the upcoming livestream and review session.
Each 3rd Saturday me and my cofounder we do livestream where we review the podcasts that our community members submitted and give feedback to them. This is not as time consuming as you may think, I’m listening to the submitted podcasts during my work, so it’s not a very much of problem, and I just make some notes. And livestreaming is very easy because we just use Restream to stream on Youtube and we just kinda talk 😀
If I can put a time lable on this I’d say I run only 5-6 hours a week on this project.
For freelance software engineering I have the one following task:
This April I left my main job and started to work towards making Community Finder my full time business, but Covid really played with me, and while I had a husband that could support our family, a few things happened that made me go back to work.
So in addition to the whole content creation I’m also doing a freelace software engineering.
Where my main function is to well – code 🙂
Coding is part of my identity and I can’t ever stop doing that otherwise I’ll be very very very unhappy.
So as much this routine can sound crazy from the outside, it is working for me, and it took me a lot of time to figure out things.
I still have things to work on, for example I want to have a specific timeframe to socialize online.
It’s very easy to get overwhelmed, but if you have the time and the resources my biggest adivce for you can be: try to separate all your tasks for a while. For example if you can, have a separate week for newsletter creation, have a separate one for podcasting, or any other thing that you do.
Once you have been doing this one thing for awhile, you’ll learn the shortcuts and will be able to combine them in one routine that works, and you can plan how much time it takes from you.
Separate and conquer, that’s my biggest advice for entrepreneurs, full time content creators and freelance developers!
Grow at your pace, Anna