Episode 261 — How I Organize My Day

 

Episode 261 — How I Organize My Day

What if you had control over your time? What if you could track it and adjust your behaviors to increase your productivity? This system, developed by Allan McKay, takes about 5 minutes a day to do. It’s something that’s been adjusted and perfected over many years.  

In this Podcast, Allan McKay shares an every-day organizational system that he’s developed to increase his productivity, as well as the daily nine questions he asks to manage himself better.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

[01:52] Introduction

[02:36] Allan Talks About the System

[06:13] Allan Breaks Down His To-Do Template  

 

EPISODE 261 — HOW I ORGANIZE MY DAY

Hello, everyone! This is Allan McKay.

Welcome to Episode 261! I’m going to open up about how I stay organized, every single day. I want to share my to-do list (please see below) and its structure so that you could build a template for yourself and get the same results.

Let’s dive in!

 

FIRST THINGS FIRST:

[00:53] Have you ever sent in your reel and wondered why you didn’t get the callback or what the reason was you didn’t get the job? Over the past 20 years of working for studios like ILM, Blur Studio, Ubisoft, I’ve built hundreds of teams and hired hundreds of artists — and reviewed thousands of reels! That’s why I decided to write The Ultimate Demo Reel Guide from the perspective of someone who actually does the hiring. You can get this book for free right now at www.allanmckay.com/myreel!

[11:58] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!

 

HOW I ORGANIZE MY DAY

[01:52] This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. This is also a process I’ve developed over many years. I’ve been obsessed with productivity for as long as I’ve been in this industry. I’ve always had that frustration: “If only I’ve had more time!” For a lot of us, that’s always the excuse we have. “I’d love to take this course”, or “I’d love to change careers — but I just don’t have enough time!” I feel that if something is important — you’ll make time. More importantly, what if you had control over your time? What if you could track it and adjust your behaviors to increase your productivity?

 

THE SYSTEM

[02:36] I’ve been tracking my hours for years now. Even recently, I had to look up a week over a year ago. It was amazing to go back and see what I was able to accomplish but also what was going through my head and the frustrations I had. This system takes about 5 minutes a day to do. But it’s something I’ve developed over many years. I’ve been changing it and for the last 3 years, I’ve been able to track my days more successfully and see where I can improve.

[03:27] Discussing this as a Podcast Episode might be a bit tricky because what I’m actually doing is using Microsoft OneNote. I have a key set of questions I ask myself every day. I have a folder that I duplicate for every week and it has a set of pages for every day. For each and every day, it has the same template with about nine questions. It’s structured in the same way and I always have it on my screen, and I update these documents as I go. I live through this religiously! It gets to a point where I don’t have to even focus on it.

[05:22] I want to quickly mention the nine questions I ask myself. I spend a lot of time discussing this. By now, you know me: If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do this to death. This is really rock solid information. So pay attention because I’m not just talking about my to-do list, but also about being more productive and managing myself better.

 

ALLAN’S TO-DO TEMPLATE

[06:13] What I have is a template list (see Allan To-Do List Template below) with a folder which has all the key days. I ask myself 3 questions at the beginning of each week. I have a page called This Week in which I simply write down what I want to accomplish that week, as well as the key tasks. I have Sunday through Saturday mapped out where I block out the important things to do. Below that, I have future projections of what I want my week to look like. That’s my chance to write down the best case scenario for what it would look like ideally. Those are the three questions I ask myself and then I have a page for each day.

[07:12] The nine questions I ask are:

THEME OF THE DAY: This is more of an overview. Mondays tend to be filled with meetings from [12:00] to 5:00 p.m. So I write down which shots I have to get done, which emails have to be taken care of. So I have to hit the ground running.  

THREE PRIMARY TASKS: These are the three most important things that need to get done that day. So if only those three things got done, I would be happy with my day.

CHORES AND TASKS: Here, I do a brain dump of everything I need to get done. These things are not scheduled, it’s just me throwing out ideas. Then I assign a time window to all of them, from 20 minutes to an hour. Then I can evaluate if it’s even achievable to get these done in a single day. This is a way to do a brain dump of everything I aspire to do and estimate the time each task would look like.

From there, I go to WHAT’S MY DAY LOOK LIKE? This is where I schedule my day out into blocks. That way if I fall behind, I can catch up. If I’m l logging every hour and I fall behind, it’s harder to catch up. It’s better to do Phase 1, Phase, 2, etc. of 3-hour blocks — or how ever you want to do it. Having those put those estimates in allowed me to understand how long things would actually take so that I don’t set myself up for failure.

WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT COULD GO WRONG TODAY? Here I can identify the problems that could come up. If I’m stuck in traffic or someone’s being chatty at my desk, or other things I can foresee going wrong. At least being aware of this stuff helps me identify it when it comes up. It’s more of a psychological thing so I can do a pattern interrupt: identify when something is going wrong and snap out of it.

JOURNAL and END OF DAY REPORT: Here, I can write about my day.

Finally, WHAT GOT DONE? WHAT DIDN’T — AND WHY? If I set out to 3-days of stuff but only got 1-2 days of stuff done, I can then estimate how much time should be allotted for things to get done properly. After a while, I can look back and figure out why I’m not getting things accomplished and how to fix that.  

[11:17] I wanted to give you a bird’s-eye view. For some of you, you may want to hit stop right there. I do urge you to get the visual aid below. I wanted to give you more context.

 

I hope you found this Podcast useful and that it was easy to follow. I went beyond just my to-do list. I’d love to hear from you: [email protected].

I hope you’re doing well. Have a productive week!

Rock on!

 

ALLAN’S TO-DO LIST TEMPLATE:

THEME OF TODAY

PRIMARY TASKS (2 HOURS EACH)

1.

2.

3.

CHORES AND OTHER TASKS

WHAT DOES MY DAY LOOK LIKE (SO I DON’T MAKE THINGS TOO HARD)? These are just notes, not instructions.

WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT COULD GO WRONG TODAY (AND LIST HOW I PLAN TO AVOID THEM).

JOURNAL

END OF DAY

WHAT GOT DONE? WHAT DIDN’T — AND WHY? WHICH TASKS TOOK WHAT AMOUNT OF TIME?

 

DOWNLOAD ALLAN’S TO-DO LIST TEMPLATE HERE:

 

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