Feel like there’s more you could be doing in your burly career to be more productive, more effective, and happier?
Wish you had time to perform more?
See yourself on the BHOF stage but have no idea how you’re going to get there?
Never fear, Velvet’s here! Today I’ve got six steps that, when applied strategically and devotedly, will help you to become a more productive and, thus, #BetterBurly artist.
AND I’ve got a special, FREE surprise for you hidden below, so don’t miss it! (Okay, it’s not really hidden. But you still have to scroll down to get to it!)
So have a listen and follow along, make some commitments to follow these steps, and download your surprise below!
6 Steps to Better Burly Productivity
1. Set goals. And make sure to set the right goals.
You can’t expect to make real progress in your journey or career if you’re not setting goals, benchmarks, or milestones to aim for. Some people have an aversion to one word or another, but it doesn’t really matter – use what works for you. But you have to use something.
Take some time to sit down just to brainstorm and refine your goals. Don’t assume that just because you have some general ideas floating around in your head that you’ve already got goals set. Sit down and put them to paper.
Use SMART goals, SMARTER goals, FREE goals, or DREAM goals. Those are all acronyms for different types of standards to hold your goals to – personally, I like to use SMARTER or DREAM goals, depending on the scope of the goal. I went way more in depth on these acronyms back in episode 30, Setting Goals You’ll Actually Achieve, so check that one out for more details.
As a side note, I did mention in that episode that I was putting together a worksheet on goal setting. I’m going to be honest, apparently I promptly forgot about finishing that shortly after releasing that episode. BUT I have that worksheet back on my radar and will be releasing that within the next couple weeks! Plus, I’ve got a different free worksheet actually finished for you…. but that’s step 4 and we’re not there yet!
2. Plan EVERYTHING.
Planplanplanplanplan. I know for a lot of creative types, planning sounds like the absolute last thing you want to be doing. But if you really want to take control of your burlesque career, if you want to perform more and make more contacts and have more, better acts and build your skills, planning for success is the way to do it.
This goes beyond setting goals. For every goal you set, you have to break it down into bite-sized, manageable steps that you’re going to take to get there.
How you plan is going to differ based on what type of person you are.
Are you old-school visual? I’ve had great luck with a giant board and colored post-its. It’s got an extra element of satisfaction because once you finish a task, you can either move it into a “done” column or, much more fun, crumple it off and toss it into the air triumphantly.
Are you techy? Use a tool like Trello. Trello is an online planning system with boards and cards that you can drag around, add notes & attachments to, color-code, assign to other team members if you have them, archive, and more. I talked a bit about Trello during my Top 5 Apps for a Burly King or Queen (episode 24) and also gave some resources there to help you use Trello to its fullest potential.
Are you listy? You don’t have to have a giant vision-board style wall hanging or use another computer app to keep track of your planning – if you’re a paper-and-pencil kind of person, stick with that!
But here’s something that’s going to make your life insanely easier- Pilot Frixion pens. These things are God’s gift to listy folks and planners. They’re colored, which is cool to really color-code those lists and notes, but even better than that – they’re erasable. And like really erasable, not like those shitty erasable pens that we used when we were kids.
Like the name suggests, they use friction, or heat, to erase, and they actually work.
PLUS, as I discovered from a planner that I bought recently, if you want to erase a whole thing, you can actually put it in the microwave for like 30 seconds and all the ink will disappear! Just make sure the notebook is microwave-safe, of course. Nobody’s exploding their microwave on my watch.
Those are just a few ideas for figuring out what type of planning works best for you.
Once you’ve decided on a method, start by simply breaking down the steps for each goal and assigning those steps a reasonable due date. There are various approaches to making planning more complicated and perhaps effective, but especially if you’re just getting started, don’t overwhelm yourself. KISS!
3. Schedule your time.
Not just rehearsals or meetings with other folks, but your actual personal time. Your brainstorming sessions, your rehearsals, your costuming binges, your Artist’s Dates. (If you’re not familiar with Artist’s Dates, grab a copy of the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and get ready for your whole life to change.)
A great practice to put into place is the idea of setting up tomorrow today. At the end of the day, whether it’s your work day or entire day (just before bed), take 5-10 minutes to schedule out your day tomorrow. Pay special attention to your morning routine, the first thing you’re going to do to get you closer to one of your goals, and your top priority task. Those two might not be the same thing.
There is, however, a concept that works well for a lot of people, and that comes from Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog! Of course, there are no truly original ideas, so Tracy adapted this idea for business from a quote from Mark Twain:
“Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
I love Mark Twain.
What Tracy suggests is to take that idea and “eat a frog”, aka do your most disliked or worst task, first thing, so that it’s all downhill from there.
This idea is hit or miss for me. Sometimes it works but sometimes then I start my day off with procrastination and find that I prefer to start my day off with a bunch of little successes to ramp me up to a big, dreaded task. Your mileage may vary, but try it out!
Another great time management strategy that may help you is the Pomodoro technique. The general idea is that we work better in short, focused blocks of time. Kind of goes along with Parkinson’s law, which is that work expands to fill the time we allot it.
To use the pomodoro method, we block off chunks of 25 minutes each to focus completely on one task, then take a 5 minute break, then do it again. And you get a longer break with every 4 pomodoros.
There’s whole planning and charting methods that go along with this, or you can just read about it and apply the general principles to your work. For example, when I pre-wrote this episode, I did three pomodoros using the timer function on my favorite focus app Focus@Will, and took short bathroom/walk around breaks in between.
For those of us with short attention spans, which is pretty much all of us these days, it’s helpful to get us to complete work in a shorter amount of time!
Speaking of which, don’t forget that almost everything takes longer than you expect it will, so make sure to give yourself a daily buffer to pick up the slack. It helps to chart expected and actual time to complete tasks, especially recurring ones, so that you can develop a better idea of the time it really takes you to craft an application email to a festival or splice together music for your new act or sew twenty-five buttons on a new garment.
4. Use worksheets.
Tons of people have created worksheets to help you track your Pomodoros, plan your SMART goals, and more. You’ll find what works best for you, but I personally adore using a well-laid-out, colorful worksheet or printable to give me joy in planning and tracking my life.
And thus, my friends, may I present to you…. the first in the BSD series of Better Burly Worksheets!
Just for you, darlings, I’ve created a multi-page worksheet/planning sheet to help you create and develop your acts. I put it together and then used it myself in planning for a show recently, then made some tweaks and wanted to share it with you all! It’s got space for planning out your storyline, your music, your costume, your tech and prop needs, plus your routine in as much or as little detail as you want.
Download it here, then be sure to email me any feedback, things that worked, things that didn’t, things you’d like to see changed or tweaked… along with what other worksheets you’d like to see in the future. You can also take pictures of your completed worksheet, tag me, and #BetterBurly!
5. Use technology. And use it wisely.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a techy person, almost all of us have phones and thus access to a gazillion helpful (and some unhelpful) apps. I already mentioned a few in this episode that can help to make your life easier, more efficient, and more productive, and episode 24 features a few more of my favorites.
One major change since I recorded that episode, though!
Evernote was too much. I know it’s robust for people who really use it to its fullest potential, but that wasn’t me. I found myself just getting overwhelmed with its complexity, and everything I added to it would just get lost.
Enter Google Keep! I don’t know how this isn’t a more popular thing, cause it’s AMAZING.
I could recount all the benefits and features here, but just head over to the Google Keep website and give it a try for yourself. And then start thinking about all the fantastic ways you can use it! (Many of the ideas in this episode/show notes page that talk about Evernote are also applicable to Google Keep.)
6. Get accountability!
Most of us need someone to help keep us on track.
You might be one of the Upholders (as made popular by Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies – take the quiz here) who is motivated purely by internal sources, but I’d say the majority of us do well when there’s something external holding us accountable.
So, form a Mastermind! There’s plenty to say about masterminds that I don’t have time to dive into here, but essentially this is a group of people committed to each other’s successes, with specific objectives. You may be all about support and celebration, but I’ve found it also works best when there’s an element of constructive criticism (and sometimes even tough love) involved. Read more about masterminds here.
You can also get an official Accountability Buddy to hound you about staying true to your commitments, goals, and to-do lists. For your accountability buddy, you may need to go outside your immediate circle – perhaps even outside of the burlesque or artist communities! Find someone that can push you gently in the right direction when you need it…. and you can push them in turn. Read more about accountability buddies here.
And there you have it!
Six strategic steps that you can take to improve your productivity and efficiency and help get you on the road to #BetterBurly.
Don’t forget to download your FREE Act Creation Worksheet here, and then send me an email or comment below with your thoughts!
See you next time, my productive pinwheels!
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