Time is your most valuable resource. You can always get more money, better recording equipment, a quieter recording studio, but you will not get more time to use all of your other resources productively. That is why it is paramount for podcasters to maximize their time management.
Effectively using every minute of your busy day will help you record better podcasts, be more successful but also enjoy life more. Time management will help not only with your podcast but also with all other highly engaging aspects of your life, like work and relationships.
“Time management is not a peripheral activity or skill. It is the core skill upon which everything else in life depends.” — Brian Tracy
Podcasting requires a lot of focused effort. Without a robust production system in place, you can continuously miss your deadlines as you will incorrectly assess how much work activities require. Brainstorming ideas, researching, fact-checking, recording, editing, and publishing all require a lot of time.
To be able to produce 1 episode per week (or more), podcasters need a discipline that only effective time management techniques can deliver. Below are the best guidelines highly successful and experienced people use. Those tips can help every podcaster to better focus and deliver higher quality shows. Finally, when you achieve satisfaction from your show, you will have more time to enjoy life.
1. Understand Priorities and Pick most Important Ones by Oprah Winfrey
Oprah’s biggest life regret is wasting time and worry about things that didn’t matter in the end. To be concerned and act on impulses that are not important in the long term means that priorities were not recognized correctly. But to know what is essential, you need to understand all the things that are on your mind.
How I implement this time management solution is a have a long list of things that I need to complete. The list is very exhaustive and contains all sorts of elements, from small stuff like adding logos to images, through a medium like finding a location and building a studio, too big-ticket items like finding and buying a house. Naturally, I can’t do all of that at once.
To solve this overload, I assign each task a priority, and I focus on closing the most critical tasks first. An additional benefit of this list is to have a clear head. Don’t always think of all the things we need to do, and due to lack of time, we keep postponing.
The solution is to have a sizeable and comprehensive to-do list for everything with tasks reaching up to a few months in advance. Here are my recommended steps to implement this time management for podcasters:
- List down all the tasks you have (at home, work, personal, podcast, etc.).
- Develop a system that will work for you and allow for storing and not losing this list.
- Use tools – for this task, the best is to have a good app. I’ve tested a few (still have others to check). Currently, the one I use and can recommend is Asana.
- Give priorities and deadlines – decide what is essential right now and what will get done in the future.
2. Long Term Planning and Vision by Jeff Bezos
For effective time management, always plan your tasks in the context of a bigger goal you want to achieve in two or three years. It is crucial to record your episodes during this and next month and maybe plan for a Christmas special, but where you want to be with your show in 2 years? If you are hoping for greatness for your show, you need to have a vision for it. From this vision should come a plan and then tasks that you perform today, but actually, help you realize the 2-year goal.
Without a big, clear goal, many podcasters end up without succeeding and going full time with their show. When you are planning to record another podcast episode, don’t just think about this week’s release. To effectively manage your time, think of how that one show can help you get you to your long-term goals.
If you want to read how to plan and build long-term value for your show we have a comprehensive podcast value guide.
3. Plan the Week by Joe Rogan
Your weekly planning should get you closer to achieving the goals you have set for you.
It is a great tip for the highly successful podcaster, Joe Rogan. If you have tasks requiring your attention, but they don’t work towards the current goals, maybe they should not be prioritized for this week.
Planning the whole week gives you a lot of control. This time management technique will allow you to know when you will be busy and need to perform to the max and when there will less stressful but highly rewarding tasks. You will also clearly see when you have time for leisure and even some free time for a bit of spontaneity. It will help with avoiding the feeling of being overwhelmed and focusing only on work.
An excellent tool for planning week is the urgency/importance matrix. Complete urgent tasks early on, so you will have enough time to focus on the most critical tasks. Do short and urgent tasks quickly to remove psychological backlog and pressure. Find also ways to delegate tasks (order groceries online, outsource tasks on Fiverr or another freelance network), and to resign from doing things that are not productive for you.
It is harder to implement than it may appear. A day after writing the above passage, I’ve unwisely committed to a task that consumed around 4 hours and should without a second thought be delegated and outsourced. It just shows how conscious we need to be in our time management efforts. We need to awarely fight for our time.
4. Timeboxing tasks by Elon Musk
The timeboxing method is necessary to put some boundaries on a task. If left uncontrolled tasks can consume as much time as you allow them. In theory, you can put a limitless amount of time into researching or writing a script. We all struggle with finishing some tasks due to them not being perfect. Just accept that things need to be done on time. Don’t overextend the deadline. Just take the fact, the things are not perfect, and the thoughts you want to conceive in an episode can always get revised in future episodes.
“Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”
This is also known in its more modern and simplified form of “Better done than perfect.” By applying a timebox time management method of assigning a duration to a task, you exercise control over the task and even over yourself. You stop your current assignment when it is good enough and don’t allow simple tasks to hijack half of what could be a more productive day.
People often respond that tasks always overrun. They might at the beginning. But this, in most cases, means you need more time in assessing task duration. Most people have difficulty determining how much time particular tasks will take. That’s why so many people agree to do things and fail to deliver according to the agreed deadline. Start measuring the duration of tasks, plan them better with the timeboxing time management method, and your productivity will significantly improve.
Grouping tasks also helps. You spend less time when you do them together than separately. A great example is brainstorming podcast ideas. You can get much more work done and get higher quality results when you brainstorm ideas more effectively.
5. Calendarize Everything to Control your Environment by Daniel Levitin
This fundamental solution from neuroscientist helps us to use the calendar most effectively. Every event that happens and has consequences for the future you should write down. You should focus, of course, on the big items that require a measurably significant amount of time and avoid cluttering your calendar.
This time management method gives the following benefits:
- It free’s up the neural resources. You don’t have to remember everything always if you are confident that you already put it in the calendar
- Allows you to make valuable commitments and discard the ones that bring you no value
- Improves your timeboxing skillset as you will be consistently evaluating tasks duration
6. Remove Distractions by Dan Ariely
Dan Ariely, a famous James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, studies and writes about improving focus and being more productive. One of the first things he teaches to people is removing distractions. Process of distraction removal for better time management requires you to complete two steps:
Step 1 – Observe what distracts you.
You need to have a list of things that regularly distract you. Examples include memes, social media, subscriptions, notifications, emails, phone calls, messages, urge to clean, pets, shopping platforms, curiosity to check something on google, etc.
Make a list of all the things that distract you. Take note and pen, put them next to your computer, and observe yourself for a few days and look for those strong impulses that urge you to stop your work and do something else.
Step 2 – Design and implement mechanisms to block the distractors.
Ariely uses a great metaphor of Odysseus, tying himself to the mast of his boat. He did this because he wanted to hear sirens sign, but he knew their song makes sailors take irrational actions that lead to their deaths. Odysseus tied himself to the mast, preventing himself from inflicting self-harm. You need to do the same to improve your time management as a podcaster.
- There may be too many distractions at home, preventing you from working on your podcast. In this case, go to the cafe shop and work from there.
- If people in the cafe are distracting, then try to zone out and e.g., put on headphones.
- Put your phone on do-not-disturb mode. Your social media feed can wait. It will also mean phone calls won’t go through unless you whitelist a caller.
- Have a pen and paper to note things that you remind yourself of during your work. Put them on later. Don’t act on an impulse.
- Turn off your email program on your computer.
- Turn off wi-fi so notifications won’t reach you on your computer.
7. Stick to a routine by Barack Obama
Routines are nothing else than personal automation. They are helpful with time management for podcasters, and they allow you to get more free time for your podcast since they:
- Simplify decision-making process – save countless minutes during the day by avoiding making a tone of small decisions
- Avoid mistakes – having a template and a process for editing your podcast and promo materials will allow you to complete it faster and get a more professional result
- Build skill and confidence – with repetition and practice you will soon be very efficient at your routine tasks and complete them more quickly with time
- Avoid and remove doubt – good routine should have built-in quality and allow you to move with the task with confidence that the process automatically will deliver a good quality result
- Enforce deadlines – this ties into the timeboxing method. Your routine should tell precisely how long each task should last to be completed with quality.
- Help to recognize important tasks from distractions – if you have an established routine that delivers excellent results you will quickly identify tasks that are trying to hijack you and compete for your attention
- Control your environment – all the benefits of a routine help you with having more control over your life and your creative process
You can implement time management routines for both private and professional tasks. In private life, you can simplify your diet to avoid thinking every day about what to eat, cook, buy, etc. Packing your gym bag a day before and putting it next to the door before you go to sleep saves you time in the morning and helps you to go and get the exercise you need.
8. Execute your Plan with Discipline by Joe Rogan
The plan you made is useless if you don’t deliver the results. Have confidence in the above-mentioned tips, and methods and complete your daily tasks day-by-day. You will feel great satisfaction each day you clear your list of tasks.
Have the confidence that the tasks you have planned are most relevant and get them done. Your planning skills will improve with time, and you will be able to choose better and more valuable things to do with practice. You will get better with time at everything: at planning, at timeboxing, at avoiding distractions, at time management, and podcasting.
The discipline is required not to diverge. There will be numerous things competing for your attention. You will feel discomfort when changing habits and implementing new rules for yourself to follow. But the discipline and removal of doubts are necessary for achieving long term success.
Promoting your show to get more listeners is one of the things that require plan and discipline to execute. Driving traffic to a podcast requires a lot of conscious effort.
Bonus – our additional tips to get more time:
Stop multitasking – it’s a harmful buzzword and concept
It is a tempting concept and maybe a desirable one, but it doesn’t fit the data of the real world. Multitasking is not a time management skill, and it is nothing else than openly inviting distractions. Our brains are not built to do many important things at once. Your attention will get split, and the quality of what you do will always get diminished.
According to a Stanford study, people who multitask have, in fact, lower ability to performed focused tasks. They get distracted much more quickly.
On top of the researches at the University of California, Irvine found there is a cost of interrupted work. It takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task you were performing before the interruption.
Say “No” to things that bring no value to you
Saying “No” to people and requests is not easy. We are taught to be kind, helpful, etc. But if you agree to everything, you won’t have time for your priorities and for what will bring you the most value.
Also, don’t think that saying “no” is personal. You merely are choosing your priorities over some else’s tasks. It has everything to do with getting more time for you and nothing to do with being unhelpful.
What are the best tools for planning and time management?
For long term planning, I highly recommend a combination:
- Good calendar so you can put down every major event
- Application for grouping your big tasks logically and allowing you to visualize how they contribute to your primary goal. I’ve tested a few apps, and currently, I’m using Asana.
What to use for short term planning?
- I use a beautiful Moleskine notebook. It allows me to plan days and effectively manage incoming requests. As it continually lays open next to me, I see what my tasks for today are.