Time management tips for motion designersw/ Matt Ragland
Do you constantly find yourself wishing you had more hours in the day? With multiple clients, deadlines and projects looming, life as a freelance motion designer can be stressful and overwhelming.
But what if you could find a way to structure your days so that stress became a thing of the past instead of a regular occurrence?
It might sound too good to be true, but this week’s guest will teach you how.
About Matt Ragland
Matt had tried blogging and podcasting before he settled on YouTube as a final creative project. What he realised through his prior experiments with blogging and podcasting is that the reason he hadn’t hit the goals he set himself was because he hadn’t been consistent enough.
YouTube was really his last attempt at growing an audience on a platform. He started out by posting one video a day for the entire month of February, then one new video a week for the rest of the year.
Matt says that consistency truly is key when it comes to creating any form of content. You also have to let go of your perfectionism – just focus on creating something and sharing it consistently. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
How to increase your productivity as a motion designer
Matt recommends tracking the time that you spend doing client work to make sure that you stay productive. This isn’t just so that you can bill clients accurately – you should track the amount of time you spend on individual tasks to really give you a good, in-depth look at where your time is spent.
Once you know this, you can then look at blocking out your calendar to group tasks together by type.
How do I find more hours in the day?
One of the ways you can find more hours in the day is by being strict with how you spend your free time.
When Matt was building his YouTube channel, he was working full-time at Convertkit. He dedicated Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings to working on his YouTube channel after work and the remaining evenings, he would relax and watch Netflix with his family.
This approach meant that although he was making sacrifices to build something he was passionate about, he still had time for himself and his family. Rearranging your schedule is one of the easiest ways you can create more hours in the day.
Remember that you don’t have to make these kinds of sacrifices forever – you’re making a short-term sacrifice for long-term gain.
The gap between where you are right now and where you want to be
When someone chooses to start creating content, it’s usually because you have been inspired by someone else. But what you need to remember is that when you start creating content, it’s not going to be as good as the work you admire – because you’re at the beginning of your journey and they might be on their 1000th YouTube video or 500th blog post.
Though logically we understand this, it can be difficult to deal with emotionally and it makes you start to doubt yourself and your abilities. But you have to remember that every successful motion designer started out with no audience. It takes time and consistency to build something worth having.
How to be more productive with the time you do have
There is no “one size fits all” approach to productivity. For example, many of us have read The Miracle Morning and set ourselves a huge task of things to do each morning because we think these will make us successful.
But when you only complete 5/10 of the tasks, you end up feeling like a failure. Putting so much pressure on yourself can actually be counterproductive.
Focus on the things that you can reasonably achieve with your lifestyle and don’t beat yourself up if one day you don’t have time to meditate and exercise first thing for example. It doesn’t make you a failure. Just pick the 5 things that are the highest priority for you at that time.
Set your own baseline and enjoy your own incremental improvement. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
What are some of the things you do to stay productive? Do you have any tried-and-tested productivity tips that you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments section below!
ln this episode
- How Matt went from part-time YouTuber to full-time content creator
- How consistency is the key in everything that you do
- How to become more productive as a motion designer
- The importance of tracking time
- How to find more hours in the day
- How to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be
- How to power-up your work and utilise your time better
- How to stop putting so much pressure on yourself to help you thrive
- How bullet journaling can help you to become more productive
“The most important thing is to be consistent. When I looked back at my blogging experiment and my podcast experiment I saw that I hadn’t been consistent enough.” [4.54]
“Throw away really early on everything that you think a YouTube video has to be – and just focus on sharing one idea in a video at a time.” [7.27]
“The good thing about things like Twitter and Instagram is that you can get such rapid feedback on your ideas.” [12.12]
“I really advocate for people tracking their time on the projects that they’re working on.” [13.26]
“Really think about tracking the time that you are spending on different activities and tasks. How much time are you spending on the creative process, how much time are you spending on admin?” [13.40]
“Take a step back and ask yourself, why do I feel overwhelmed? Most people have lots of tasks to do and they don’t know how to prioritise them.” [40.24]
“Take it easy on yourself, Many of us have a hope or an intention to better ourselves but it’s when we give ourselves a huge checklist of things to do it becomes counter-intuitive.” [42.24]
“Don’t spend your entire life wishing that you could get more done.” [44.30]
Visit Matt’s YouTube channel.
Find out more about Matt’s productivity work at 3keys.fyi
Matt Ragland (00:00): All of these ways and all these power-ups, whether we're using them proactively in the moment or retroactively based on like problems that are cropping up, but you're only using these different power-ups or productivity methods in light of what you actually need to do. And not because there's this vague made up by someone else. Who's not in your situation type of list checklists that you feel like you have to follow to be pretty.
Hayley Akins (00:30): Hey, hatchlings. Welcome to the motion hatch podcast. I'm your host, Hailey Akins. Hey hatchlings. And welcome to episode 89 of the motion hatch podcast on this week's show. I brought on Matt Ragland. Now Matt, as a creator coach and productivity expert, his methods have been used by thousands of people, series popular YouTube channel and email newsletter. I wanted to bring my on the show today to talk about productivity and time management as it's something that many of us struggled with being predictive whilst working remotely is really important and something that we've all had to deal with recently. So Mike covers how to find extra hours in your day, how to build a successful side hustle whilst working full-time. And we also talked about staying organized without feeling overwhelmed. I really enjoyed this conversation with Matt and I actually picked up a few tips myself. So I know you're going to really enjoy this one. Let's get into it. Hey Matt, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Hayley Akins (01:37): So do you want to start by telling the audience a little bit about your background and what you do?
Matt Ragland (01:42): Of course, I'd be happy to talk about myself. I S I've been working in I've been working in tech for the past five, six years, but actually at the beginning of 2021, I went full-time as a content creator. So I make videos on YouTube. I have a podcast, I have an email newsletter, so just content creation and everywhere I talk about productivity, focus, mindfulness, really the overlap of where creativity and productivity meet and kind of how those things intersect, how people who have to focus and get creative work done, actually get that work done and stay profitable and productive. So that's just like the really short version. Like I said, I also worked at convert kit and podia previously. So I've been embedded in the creator economy for a really long time, relatively speaking. And yeah, I'm really thrilled to be on the podcast, talking with you today.
Hayley Akins (02:44): Yeah, thanks. So I wanted to talk obviously all about the productivity and the, all the mindset stuff too. Cause I think that's really important for creatives, but it'd be great to hear from you a bit about, you know, how you got doing the YouTube stuff. Cause I know that you're doing it on the side of your full-time job for a while and I thought that's quite related to us as when we do freelance work as emotions, zine, and then we go full-time freelance. So I thought it'd be great to hear from you about that.
Matt Ragland (03:15): Yeah. I'd love to talk about that. It's definitely something that is very applicable to a lot of people in our work, whether you're working full-time for another company or maybe you're doing something part-time and you're balancing your part-time self-employed freelance with working some other contracts. So it's a, it's an interesting balance. And I started my YouTube channel in February, 2017. So I just had my four year YouTube anniversary and I started because actually I hadn't done that well with my previous creative attempts. Like I hadn't either been able to keep up enough momentum personally or like I got kind of burnt out on it. Cause I'm like I've, you know, written a hundred blog posts, I've published 30 podcasts episodes and I don't quite have the quote unquote numbers that I was looking for at the time or I just got worn out on it.
Matt Ragland (04:08): And so I had already done these other two, like types of channels with audio and written, written content. And well, you know, the last thing, the last thing to do is to try YouTube is to try video. And I had actually done a good bit of video throughout high school and college. Like I had taken video production courses and had been in front of the camera with some things and just felt, felt pretty comfortable with it, even though I hadn't done much of it before in the past or in, in the interim. And so I started putting videos on YouTube and the thing that I wanted to try and do, the thing that was the most important for me at the time was to be consistent because as I looked back at my like blogging, my blogging experiment, my podcast experience experiment. The thing that I realized was I hadn't been consistent enough for the duration of time that I had like specified.
Matt Ragland (05:06): And so it'd be kind of haphazard and like post once a month and then four times a month and then twice a month and then not for three months. So it was kind of all over the place. And I was like, I just want to build up a library of content and be consistent. So that one, I knew that I was serious about it personally and that other people, when they landed on my channel could see like, okay, well this, this guy is regularly publishing videos. He's probably serious about it. I can stick around and have something to look for. And so in that first year, 2017, I posted I think 65 videos that year. And the trick for me, the bulk of it was that I did a video every day in February, which is a fun way to cheat because there's only 28 days in February. And so nearly a third of my videos about, yeah, about a third of videos were just in that first month, but then I was pretty consistent at doing a video every week for the rest of the year.
Hayley Akins (06:04): Yeah. It's really interesting. Cause I think it's quite relevant to as motion sign is, everyone's talking about like, okay, you've got to promote yourself, you'd go use social media and all this kind of stuff. And the big thing, like I'm sure you know, on social is to be consistent as well. So I'd love if you could talk a bit about like, I mean, you know, I guess batching is what you were saying really worked for you. So like scheduling stuff in advance. Is there any other tips for like being consistent on a platform?
Matt Ragland (06:34): Batching was really helpful for me. The other thing that I was really, really focused on and it sounds simplistic, but it's really hard to do with our kind of a knack for perfectionism that a lot of creators have is when it was time to publish. It was literally time to publish there wa and so I really had to get to a point where I understood and doing more videos early will help you get better at this. But James clear has a great way of talking about this when he was pretty early on in his, in his writing journey and his consistency practice, wasn't going to publish on Mondays and Thursdays. It doesn't matter how long it isn't, it doesn't matter how I feel about it. And I really took that to heart from a video perspective. And it can be really useful to just think about throw away early on, everything that you think for the most part, a YouTube video has to be and just focus on sharing one idea, just like literally one idea in a video.
Matt Ragland (07:37): And it doesn't have to be like this, you know, Casey Neistat or Sara Dietschy or some another designer that the audience may, may recognize, but like Charlie, Charlie Murray she does an amazing job. She was a mentor of mine with, with YouTube, but just focus on sharing one idea at a time, because if you just focus on that instead of trying to cram three or four ideas into a single video, now you have three or four, like just specific videos. And there are a lot shorter, obviously shorter videos are easier to publish because it's just less to do. And that was something that I really worked hard on, like from a focus and a mindset perspective was I was just going to try and put out like a three to five minute video about one idea and keep the editing pretty light because, you know, as anyone who has done video and really like for it, you can go so far down a rabbit hole, oftentimes editing will take longer than actual shooting. And so you just kinda have to early on balance out that this is what I want it to be versus this is what I'm capable of right now. And the amount of time that I have available and recognizing the balance between those two, like competing mindsets is what's really important early on because all you have to do really is be consistent and keep publishing.
Hayley Akins (08:54): Yeah. I think that makes sense. And because obviously when my doing motion design stuff where like animating and making videos and things like that, but you know, it's difficult because they're like, oh, but everything we put out there on social has to be like, perfect and look really polished and stuff like that. But I like, how about what you're saying? Kind of break it down and maybe just have simple ideas. I mean, something that I talk a lot about with the students that I work with is about, you know, everyone wants to make these like three minute films and stuff like that. And to animate all that is insanely difficult. So I'm like, why don't you just do like a series of like ten second things. And then you have like more social content as well, and you can kind of showcase your skills, but you don't have to make a massive, like three minute film, you know? Right.
Matt Ragland (09:41): I loved how you talked about kind of the iteration of that. And this is where like, I've come back around to where I in social media, like Twitter, Instagram you know, different, you know, Tech-Talk at this point they're all ways that I can have resisted for a long time because I was like, oh, well, you know, it's distracting. And it, it can definitely be distracting for me, but the way that I saw like the iteration of creative content was this cycle of I'm going to take, maybe just instead of one fully formed idea, I'm just going to take a shred of the potential of an idea. Like whether that is, you know, like a couple of tweets strung together, or maybe it's a ten second video or a one minute like talking head video. And that's what goes on social. And I do those like nearly every day and once.
Matt Ragland (10:33): And then when I see that one of those tweets or posts or reels or whatever or tick talks go, you know, gets more momentum and hit some more engagement like, Ooh, this is something now I can expand on to a more fully formed idea because you've seen that engagement. You've seen it resonate instead of more like guessing or going with your gut, which I'm still a big proponent of that as well. But if you want to be more like data driven and engagement driven, like sharing, not even one idea, but breaking it down to like one piece of one idea and sharing that and building from there.
Hayley Akins (11:11): Yeah. Yeah. I think that's awesome. It's not something I've thought about before. I'm trying to like think like, if I translate this into the motion design world, how that works and I guess a way we could do it would be you know, potentially like just do an illustration of something instead of make it move as well. And then like, Hey, do people like the illustration, like if I make this move, is it gonna like actually reach people? And then people are going to enjoy the idea or whatever. So, yeah. That's awesome. I think that's really
Matt Ragland (11:40): Great share, like, and if I'm, if I'm using the terminology correctly, it's like you share it. You could share even a storyboard. You could go like from one, from one sketch to the score, to the storyboard, to like, okay, now here's the completed animation and just like build those iterations and you can do that through social, within like a couple of days. I love how quick if you can, and this is the opportunity, like the blessing and the curse of something like Twitter, Instagram is you can get such rapid feedback for your ideas. And as long as you don't go down the rabbit hole of just like over consuming other people's ideas, or just like doom scrolling, because you're bored. Like that is like, it's one of I've gone from like, eh, social media who needs it. It's a distracting curse upon the world to like, okay, well there's a lot here as long as I can keep my head on straight.
Hayley Akins (12:30): Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I wanted to talk a bit about like, you know, how we, as motion designers can increase our productivity because I know that's your area of expertise. And also I feel like we just get overwhelmed so much, like we're always trying to do client work, but then we want to do our own personal projects and how to manage that is like one of the biggest struggles that I see. Really. Yeah,
Matt Ragland (12:55): Absolutely. So I have a very old school idea for this, that a lot of people resist when I say it for the first time. So if you're hearing me talk about this for the first time, just stick with me for a couple of minutes. I promise it will make sense, but the first solution to this problem and freelancers, I will say in people who do client work are a little bit more used to this. So maybe it won't come as quite of a shock, but I really advocate for people tracking their time, tracking their time on the projects that they're working on. Now, the reason, obviously for freelancers people doing client work, they're pretty used to this if they're billing hours. But what I want you to think about is not just I'm billing, I'm tracking an hour for this client, this project. So I can say I worked on your stuff for this amount of time, but really even thinking about tracking the time that you are spending on different activities or tasks, because what you want to surface and just bringing awareness of is how much time does it take me to do this certain thing?
Matt Ragland (13:59): So each stage of your creative process, how much time are you spending on admin? How much time as a whole are you spending on client work versus your own projects versus like admin or like developing education for yourself really like, and you don't have to. The other thing that is an encouragement on this is you usually, you don't have to do this all the time until death to a spark, to like track your time. But if you I've found that if you do it for two, maybe three weeks of working pretty consistently, then you have enough raw data to sift through and understand, okay, this is how much time I'm spending on something. And now what, now that I have an awareness of it, how can I better prioritize and organize? I think of it almost like time budgeting. It's like doing a budget for your time.
Matt Ragland (14:50): And so you at it like, okay, how much time am I literally spending? I'm tracking my time. Like I'm tracking my spending so I can understand how much time I'm literally spending on these different things. So then I can look at and say like, oh, I thought because often what'll happen is people will then look at their raw data for lack of a better term. They're like, oh, I thought I was only spending 50% of my time on client work. Like that's what I intend to do, but I'm actually spending 80% of my time on client work. So no wonder often it's, it's this like equal parts. We we've talked about paradoxes a couple of times already, but it's this the equal parts of like, oh, okay. No wonder. I don't have as much time for my personal projects combined with like, oh my gosh, I'd hate myself.
Matt Ragland (15:31): Why am I spending so much time on this client that maybe whether I like them, or I don't like them, I don't intend to spend this much time. And so then you just have, I said, you have an awareness, you have more information. So then you can look at it and say, okay, this is where you start to build. In some calendar, blocking people are usually pretty, pretty familiar with calendar blocking your time blocking. So now what kind of the second phase of this after you've tracked your time, look at the week ahead and say, okay, I don't know if I'll even be good at it this week because I'm so used to doing it in this other way. But my intention is to say, spend these blocks of time on client projects, protect this amount of time for my personal projects. I'm going to work on admin for this time.
Matt Ragland (16:14): And then you just kind of continue to iterate on these intentions that you have because, you know, spoiler alert the first time you try and do calendar blocking based on your time tracking. You're probably just going to be very okay at it and be like, oh, I miss this calendar block or this thing still took longer than I thought, or I'm supposed to switch to this other calendar. I'm supposed to switch to this other you know, work category right now, but I really need to finish this client project and you start to feel bad again. So I just say like, it's usually what I've found to be like a four ish week detox of time management and transformation to like spend a couple of weeks tracking and then a couple of weeks you know, blocking and like being, being a little being okay with yourself when you don't hit the goals that you have, just because it's a work in progress.
Matt Ragland (17:07): You're used to doing something in a particular way. And we're trying to make you know, at times a pretty significant change. And they're like, we've talked about iteration. There are varying levels that you can protect and block time based on your, what your goals are. But that is like in terms of being more productive you know, that was a few minutes, a few minutes on my soap box, but just think of it as I want to track my time so I can better understand my activities so that then I can better protect and block for those activities going forward. Like that is the simplest fastest way, even though I did say it might take a month to just kind of keep, to get an idea of how you could better spend your time and like better prioritize tasks and activities going forward.
Hayley Akins (17:51): Yeah. I think that's awesome. One thing that comes into my mind is everyone will be thinking, okay, cool, Matt, that sounds great. But I don't have any time, like I'm, I'm doing client work like all the time, but I want to do my personal projects, but you know, I've got to think about the money as well. So like how can I make sure that, I guess I'm like utilizing the time, the best I can. And then is there any way that we can, like, I dunno somehow magic some extra time, you know, into the day?
Matt Ragland (18:24): Yeah. Well funny enough, there's kind of a similar, similar answer to that. And you could, it kind of comes back to time tracking a little bit, or just an awareness of activities, because if I like, even right now wanted to, and I started doing this full-time so technically I, and I'm using air quotes, technically I have all the time that I need right. To do, to do the work, but I still like like my mom's visiting us right now and she's like, man, are you done with work for the day? I was like, I have decided that now is all that I've chosen to do for today. There is, I wouldn't, there is no done for this and maybe that's like not the right mindset, but ever since I started working in software and working in tech for six years, I was talking to a friend about this for six years.
Matt Ragland (19:12): I haven't felt like I was done with work. It was just like, I have decided that I'm going to stop for today and ignore all the problems and goals that are in my head. But if you want to magic some time out of the day, then you can take kind of your time tracking or just like your activity awareness and expanded to all your activities for the day. And a really common one in this is, you know, something like maybe not like healthy leisure activities, like exercising or getting outside and moving around. But something like, you know, if you do have TV, if you know, TV that you watch, you, you know, you kind of wind down by watching Netflix or something, which, you know, I, yeah, I do a good amount of myself, but in those times where I'm like, I'm trying to, like when I was building my YouTube channel on the side and I was working at convert kit I watched very little TV for like those first two years because, or I like had specific days, like, okay, basically on Monday, Wednesday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday nights, I would work on the YouTube channel.
Matt Ragland (20:13): And then Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday, we would watch, we would watch something. And so it was kind of this balance of sure. You know, I would like to, you know, maybe wind down and watch some TV, but I'm trying to like build this thing on the side. And I was really, really mindful during those months. And even years of understanding that like the time that I was protecting to work on my channel during those evenings or maybe early mornings that had to be totally that I get pulled into like my main job work at that time. Like that was really important to me that I tried to be, I tried to really protected and that kind of is like magic in some extra hours into, into the day. If you can look at it and say, all right, you know, I want to, and it may just be also to clarify something that maybe instead of watching TV or saying, like, I'm not going to watch TV.
Matt Ragland (21:11): I'm not going to watch Netflix. I'm going to do some work on my side hustle at night. Maybe it's just go to bed early. I just go to bed at nine instead of 10 or 10 instead of 11. So I can wake up an hour earlier and work on it at that time. So it's just kind of, it's rearranging your schedule. It's looking at time you have available and what you're against spending your time on. And just saying like, even just saying like mentally to yourself, like the reason I'm doing this is because this channel, this project, this thing really matters to me more than like watching an episode of Schitt's Creek, which is kind of what I'm into. Yeah,
Hayley Akins (21:46): Yeah. Now I just want to talk about Schitt's Creek cause it's a great program, but we'll leave that for a different podcast. Yeah. So yeah, I really liked that. I think that what it kind of brings it up in my mind is I've done similar kind of things. And I think it's it kind of, for me, it has to be in seasons. So like, you know, for example, the same as you, when I was started this podcast, I was obviously freelancing as a motion designer as well. And like doing all the things and you know, I'd always have to do these podcasts, like in the evenings and the weekends and stuff like that. But I kind of felt like, well, this is what I'm doing now and I'm going to do this for yeah. And then, and then kind of see how it goes and then sort of check if that's working for me and if it's not, and it was sort of like I put an angle on how long I would have to do that for. So it wasn't just like, oh, forever. I have to work on the weekends on my personal projects or, or that kind of thing. Is that sort of how you look at it as well? Or do you have any extra tips for us about that kind of thing? Yeah.
Matt Ragland (22:52): Yeah, absolutely. That's such a great point. I'm really glad you brought that up because really kind of, if you expand out calendar blocking too, not just like day by day, but like and you can think of it. This is very popular, obviously in software is to look at, in terms of a sprint or like specific project duration. So I'm going to focus on, I'm going to experiment on this and be consistent and focused and protect my time for a month for six weeks for a quarter. And that's where, like you said, for an entire year and really what I was trying to get to with my YouTube channel, and this is, this is kind of a big number. So take it with a grain of salt. I was really trying to get to a hundred videos like that was my goal to get to a hundred published videos.
Matt Ragland (23:33): And again, didn't matter how long they were, didn't matter how I felt about them. They didn't have to be 110 minute videos. It could be a hundred, one minute videos because I was really focused on the consistency of now. I've kind of like narrowed that like squeeze that down a good bit to where I think that if you're trying something new, like, especially in a creative, like content field, then again, kind of depending on the duration of it, but you can do 10, 10 of something. I call it, this is my 10 round rule, but you can do 10 of a thing to get a feel for whether or not it's a fit for you. And you could spend an entire year even like running these sort of iterative tests around a mung, a bunch of different practices to see like, okay, like what is the right fit for me?
Matt Ragland (24:25): Like you could write 10 essays, you could do 10 podcast episodes. You could produce 10 videos. You could, you know, do you know, write 10 epic, maybe not epic because that's a very, that's a very loaded word, but right. 10 Twitter threads. Yeah. When I talk with student my students about this, we actually talk about this in terms of like even some other habits that you might want to build. So whether that is like daily journaling or a particular new exercise routine, when I started doing Brazilian jujitsu, I was like, okay, I'm going to go 10 times. And if I can survive and feel good after 10 times, then, you know, I'll give it another, I'll give it another couple of months, but you know, boxing in and giving some con you know, some healthy constraints to the first like set of experiments or number of creative outputs that you're going to have, I think is a really healthy thing. So I'm glad you brought that up.
Hayley Akins (25:17): Yeah, I think so. Because otherwise I just worry that people, you know, if there kind of, isn't an end in sight really, and especially with stuff like social media and things like that, like, it isn't really something that we want to do. Right. Like we were like, well, we want to design stuff and make pretty things. I don't want to like, have to sit and do social media and do posts on Instagram. And you know, there's a lot of mindset stuff behind that too. I mean, I don't know whether you have anything, you know, to help the audience with, if they feel like, oh, you know, I'm not sure my work is good enough and things like that. I mean, we kind of talked about perfection a little bit already, but I didn't know whether you wanted to add anything to that.
Matt Ragland (25:59): Yeah. That is really, it's really difficult. And this is where I believe communities play a really big, powerful role is, and I've done, I've seen this even in like small, like mini masterminds or like you know, group training, cohort programs that I've led is just one of the biggest, most powerful things for people is just seeing that there are others like them struggling with similar things. They're like, oh, okay. Well, if I thought I was in the minority, that I was like, the small insignificant, like messed up minority. And then you realize that the messed up minority is actually a majority there. Most people are kind of like struggling with this and it's just such a powerful thing. And it helps people get over that fear because they're like, well, you know, if like, even people like Haley and Matt are struggling with this from time to time, or a lot of times then maybe I can do that.
Matt Ragland (27:02): Maybe I can do that too. So there's a huge power in community for this and another good example or story that I referenced is IRA glass. Who's the host of this American life on NPR. He has this great piece where he talks about the gap between where you are and where you want to be, or where you intend to be as a creator. And he said, one of the reasons we get into creative work is because you have good tastes. Like you've seen people who making great YouTube videos, great animations, you know, they, their motion design is so smooth and like, it's so great. And when you start doing it, it's not as good. Of course it's not as good, but we don't like if you take a step back, you would like logically understand that. Of course it's not as good. That person has been doing it for a really long time.
Matt Ragland (27:53): I have not, of course it's better. And, but we get stuck thinking early on, like it has like this first piece, this 10th piece has to be as good as what we understand logically, but emotionally have a lot of trouble with is like, that's their thousandth published piece. So yeah, it's a little better. Now you can borrow a lot of expertise from other things that you've been doing, but it's just like habit. What glass says is the only way to get from where you are to cover the gap. He calls it to get from where you are to, where you want to be is just, is literally just a volume of work there, you know, ways to get around that maybe based on expertise or coaching or, you know, education, but for the most part, it's still just takes the work to do. And you can almost see, like there's an exponential, like a different kind of 10 X rule at play for creators and designers is 10 and I call it you know, it's 10, 10 repetitions or 10 rounds to test experiment.
Matt Ragland (28:53): Is this a fit? Is this good? A hundred to create momentum and confidence. You're like, okay, I've done this a hundred times. I'm pretty good at it now. But then it's another like 10 X jump to feel like you're really mastering something. And like, I've seen this on YouTube as well. The only like quick story I'll share about this is a tech YouTuber. His name is Marquez brown. Lee's MKBHD on YouTube. And he has over 13 million subscribers on YouTube. He's probably the biggest, most influential him and unbox therapy are probably the two biggest tech YouTubers. But I found a video of Marquez, like sharing his first big YouTube milestone. I'm using air quotes again. And he's really young because he's already pretty relatively speaking, but this was like eight years ago. And he's like, guys, first big YouTube milestone. And he starts talking about it on the video.
Matt Ragland (29:49): He's like, yeah, just publish my 100th YouTube video. I feel really, I feel really pumped. And like before he even said anything else, I was like, oh, this is great. Like a hundred videos. That's what you shoot for a hundred pieces of publication, a hundred published pieces, not like, yay, what am I going to get? Like that random number of subscribers that we've all decided is important. So it was already, it was like, Ooh. And I'm so I'm glad he was focusing on that. But then he kept going. He's like, and let me just check my subscriber count. And this is all happening very fast. I'm like, Hmm. I wonder what he had, like probably two or 3000, maybe at this point, you know, it's, it's more cars and he's like a hundred videos, 76 subscribers.
Hayley Akins (30:29): And I was like, oh my gosh, wow,
Matt Ragland (30:31): This is, this is MKBHD. And like, I know when I hit a hun people always like congratulate me for sticking it out to get to like my first thousand or 10,000 subscribers on YouTube. Like, wow, you published 50 videos and only had 500 subscribers. You know, I wouldn't have kept going at that point. I've had several people say that to me. And I was like, well, you know, MKBHD did a hundred videos and only had a seven and only had 76 subscribers. But now, I mean, you can see the, like the iterative, the like compounding effect, because not only does he have 13 million subscribers now, but he also has published over 1300 videos. So it's really wild how it kind of, you know, tends to line up pretty closely between, you know, mark has been doing two to three videos a week for like 10 years just and insane amount of consistency. So like you see like the gap between where you are right now and where you want to be oftentimes is primarily determined by the amount of work you're willing, not only to put in, but also to publish.
Hayley Akins (31:47): Yeah, that's crazy. I think it's a great story, but then I also worry that everyone's thinking, oh, no, that means I've got to do like loads more work. But I'd love to hear from you a little bit about cause I watched one of your videos and you were talking a little about, like, about productivity power-ups and this idea that you don't always have to like, do everything perfectly like, oh, I'm going to do the journaling and then I'm going to meditate and I'm going to get up and do all these things. And I'm going to get to keep the best bullet journal and all of this kind of stuff. It's like not realistic. So it'd be great to just hear you talk a bit about the idea of these like power-ups cause I really liked that. I thought it was great.
Matt Ragland (32:29): Thank you. I do wanna make a quick little addendum to the last point because when people say like, oh, I have to do a hundred pieces of content. I have to a thousand even like that's a lot of work. What counts as published content these days in a way that can make a difference in build your expertise and experience has shrunk dramatically. So it goes back to that. You don't have to do this seven to 10 minute highly produced, like looking at MKBHD, Sara Dietschy Charlie, Charlie Murray, looking at their videos and being like, oh my gosh, she's just so wonderful. And they're 20 minutes long. Yours can, instead of 20 minutes long, yours could literally be two or three minutes long. My friend Dickey, Bush runs a, a writing program called ship 30 for 30 and it's everywhere on Twitter right now.
Matt Ragland (33:20): I like, at least in my, in my Twitter echo chamber, I'm doing it too. But he intentionally limits the students to only writing 250 words, which is pretty short. That's like two, maybe three tweets it's really short. And when you think that, you know, to me, that counts nowadays. And so what you, what, again, you kind of have in your head as like my published piece of work, he goes back to that iterative process. We were talking about shrink significantly. What you believe a published piece of work has to be. So I just want to make, I want to make that point because it is like, even to me now, like if you were to say like, okay, you know, it has to be a Casey Neistat video and you have to do a thousand of those. Like, yeah, I'm probably not going to do that even though I, I could, but even for me, 200 videos on YouTube, that's still feels like very, very, very overwhelming and scary. Yeah.
Hayley Akins (34:19): I might just, yeah, you're totally right. And I just want to talk about someone who's in one of our mastermind programs at the moment, because he obviously he's a motion designer and we talk about posting on social media all the time and stuff like that. We've got a social media guide. If anyone listening, hasn't got it yet, it's free. So you can go to motion, hatch.com/social media and find it there. But yeah, Chris in our mastermind is actually just been posting little tips on post-it notes. And this seems like the opposite of what emotions designers should do. Right. Cause we're like, no, it has to move. It has to look great. You know, but he's just been posting these little tips on LinkedIn, just writing on post-it notes and taking a picture of it. And it's actually getting him some engagement, you know, he's got a client or two from doing that, you know, or at least like one of his old clients was like saw his post and was like, oh yeah.
Hayley Akins (35:12): Oh Chris. Yeah, we should get him back in. You know? And I just think that's amazing to me. So even what we think as motion designers, like we have to post like animations all the time. It can't be like these other things, you know, and it's just not true. So I just wanted to kind of tell everyone about that because I think, yeah, just our mindset about what we, what we should post on social media is kind of a bit crazy. And we don't think about, like we were talking about earlier about posting storyboards and behind the scenes and all of this kind of stuff, which sometimes is more popular as well.
Matt Ragland (35:48): Oh yeah. There's so many, so many designers and creators that I follow that basically the majority of what they share on social is kind of that behind the scenes work. And it's tempting to think I, and I would, I'm not a designer, but I've worked with a bunch of designers and I have, like, I like to think I have kind of a design mindset for a lot of these things, but it can be scary to think like if I post this behind the scenes piece, then other people are going to take it and I will, you know, it's kind of that, that scarcity mindset, which is very easy to fall into I'm in it constantly myself. But what you realize, especially for people who are right fit clients for you possibly, then they're going to see like, oh, that's exactly how I wish we thought about this. Or I love their thinking behind this problem. Maybe I could steal it, but I would rather just have them do it because I trust understand now the way that they're thinking behind this problem. And I want to have more of that at my agency, at my company and my business.
Hayley Akins (36:51): Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So should we get back to the power-ups cause we kinda got sidetracked.
Matt Ragland (36:57): Yeah. Thank you for bringing us back in what a great host. So the power-ups are my way of thinking if you, if you think of it from a, almost like a gaming, like a video game standpoint, like I loved retro video games growing up as a kid. And so playing like the super Mario brothers and you would have like the power-ups that's one of the things that I think about is like, whether it's the mushroom or the mushroom that makes you bigger, the flower that helps you throw fire, which I had never really understood, or the leaf that turns you into a raccoon. So you can fly another thing that didn't really make sense to me, like in retrospect, but there are these different things that you could like take hold of and use to master your environment or solve a particular problem or overcome a challenge or beat beat the boss.
Matt Ragland (37:47): And I started thinking about that in terms of our productivity and how there are these different things from like, we've talked about time tracking and calendar blocking we've talked to, there are different things in terms of task management and goal setting. We kind of talked about it a little bit, even in terms of like giving your project itself specific constraints. And so there are all the, I started thinking about these, not in terms of like a checklist that you had to follow every single day. Like some people will be familiar with a book called the miracle morning. That was really, maybe it's still really popular, but it seemed to be everywhere like a few years ago. And it was basically this like hour and a half routine of like things that you like had, like, this is what millionaires do and you should do it as well.
Matt Ragland (38:33): And like all the most people in the world do this thing. And I remember it. I remember like reading this even initially, I was like, well, this all sounds really great. And maybe, you know, but like reality for me is very different. And I realized that I was feeling bad that I only had a 30 minute morning routine or that I might go exercise for an hour, not leaving time for like proper amounts of meditation. Like all these are like, I felt bad that I wasn't following this like super productive checklists. And I realized that the times and the days that I felt most productive was when I was having a greater awareness and mindfulness of the goal that was in front of me, the different tasks that I had and really the challenges that they, that those goals or tasks presented or, and so then I could like, almost as if you were looking through your inventory of power as being like, well, I'm having trouble like managing my time for this.
Matt Ragland (39:37): Okay. Let's do some calendar blocking. So there's a couple of ways that you can go in, you can go into it, you can look at a problem ahead and say, it's most, it's most likely that I'm going to need to use my goal planning framework, my goal planning power up for this. So I take that off the shelf, metaphorically speaking, and I kind of put together a custom made productivity, power up kit, like a toolkit that is custom made for this particular problem or this particular goal or thing that I want to do. Now you can also play it back. And if you notice, if you kind of notice in retrospect that you're having a particular, if you're having a problem or you feel overwhelmed asking yourself, like why do I feel overwhelmed? And one of the common things that I often see with people is like, well, I feel like I have so many tasks to do, and I don't know how to prioritize them.
Matt Ragland (40:31): And that's when you can look at and say like, okay, well, if my problem is prioritization and task management, well, I can create a master task list. And from that master task list, I can just do a really simple, like, is this a high or low priority? You're just like, whatever type of task. And then you just start to sort your tasks or your goals based in, you know, based on that prioritization system that you're giving yourself. So there's, there are these, all these, all of these ways and all these power-ups where they're using them proactively in the moment or retroactively based on like problems that are cropping up. But you're only using these different power-ups or productivity methods in light of what you actually need to do. And not because there's this vague made up by someone else who's not in your situation type of list checklist that you feel like you have to follow to be productive every day.
Hayley Akins (41:28): Yeah, no, I really liked that. And I think it's good. I feel like I do a lot different things and sometimes I'm really consistent and really good with them. And like, you know, I was doing like journaling for a bit. I I've been doing the miracle morning a bit, but then sometimes it's not very good at it. And I just think that's fine, you know, like you just gotta give yourself a break too, and be like, you know, it's fine if you do your exercise, but then you don't have time for your meditation, like you say, and all this kind of stuff you know, try and do it later in the day and like try and squeezy things in. But yeah, sometimes it's tough.
Matt Ragland (42:06): Yeah. And the other, I'm glad you brought that up because just kind of taking it easy on yourself and giving yourself a little bit of grace on it, because that's one of the most insidious, like difficult things that I see a lot of creatives or just a lot of people in general struggling with is that we have, again, a hope and an intention to better ourselves to like be more mindful, be more intentional. These are all like very aspirational things that we all, you know, I think correctly want to do, but it's when we give ourselves like this laundry, you know, this big checklist of things to do and even, and not understanding and not realizing from ourselves that doing you weren't doing any, you weren't doing any of this before, or you doing very little of it, like maybe one out of 10. And if you can just reorient, reorient your mindset to be like, okay, well, there are 10 things that I'd love to do every day to have my miracle day, blah, blah, blah.
Matt Ragland (43:01): And I'm only doing five, so I still feel bad, but, and I could, I could self coach myself back on like so many of these things I've been talking with you about for the past 45 minutes. So just know that everyone kind of deals with this, but you're doing five out of 10 before you were doing one or two out of 10. So you have this huge improvement over your baseline. And one of the things that I really try and help people with and teach people is like understanding your own incremental improvement. And even just like understanding, like what is my new baseline? Because another thing like say you have these 10 things. So just, you know, again, random number, don't take it for gospel, but you have these 10 things that you'd love to do every day to have an amazing day.
Matt Ragland (43:45): Well, if you're only doing a couple and now you're doing five or six, maybe what you realize is based on your life right now, and based on the other responsibilities that you have often like in a good way, like a family, you know, different, you know, multiple clients, maybe it's a really busy season season, but you know, maybe you can do five or six of these sins. And so what you do instead is pick the five or six highest priority for you or you just kind of cycle through and like, okay, I'm going to do like these couple of like for the next month, I'm not going to journal. I'm just going to meditate. And that's what I'm going to spend that 15 to 20 minutes on or whatever it is. But you're just looking at like, okay, I probably have time to do five or six of these things throughout the day, which five or six are highest priority and most important for me and not worrying, not spending your entire life wishing that you could get more done and as a productive person and a person who taught like myself talks about productivity a lot.
Matt Ragland (44:42): Yeah. A lot of times I say these things out loud because I need to hear them just from myself again, but this is like setting your own baseline and looking at your own incremental improvement is so huge for just being a lot more calm and graceful and like just being okay with yourself. Maybe more than you currently are, are allowing yourself to be.
Hayley Akins (45:04): Yeah, definitely. I'm glad that you said about, you know, sometimes you talk about these things cause you feel like you need to remind yourself. Cause I do that constantly. I'm like yo on the show because I need some more productivity tips, you know, like selfishly just bringing you on now, but no, like
Matt Ragland (45:23): A lot of people start podcasts, myself included.
Hayley Akins (45:26): Yeah, exactly. What dude really starts by doing it for yourself. And then obviously it helps everyone else as well. But the good thing is, is because everybody struggles with this stuff. So I think I really love talking about it because I think like we spoke about a lot of it is about mindset and stuff like that as well. It's not actually always about getting the things done, you know? But I love to talk a little bit about bullet Jen Lynn cause have a whole YouTube channel is like a treasure trove of bullet journaling. So do you want to just, just in case like people don't know what it is. Do you want to tell us a bit about what it is and like how it can help people with productivity? Of
Matt Ragland (46:05): Course I love bullet journaling. So bullet journaling, there are two ways to think about it because if you look up bullet journaling on YouTube, hopefully find some of my videos. But if you look up bullet journaling on YouTube or Instagram, or even Pinterest, if you search for bullet journaling, then what you're going to see most likely are these beautiful, well laid out artsy kind of like planners notebooks. And you're like, oh, that looks really nice. But I'm like, is this what bullet journaling is? Am I going like, I'm not going to either. I don't, I can't do this. I'm not an artsy person. Or maybe I do have some artistic talent, but I just don't have time to do this. And there are a bunch of different ways to unpack that. But if you look back at the origin of the bullet journal than it is actually a super minimal and of task planner and day structure system, it's as simple as like I have a task to do today.
Matt Ragland (47:08): I'm going to write down on my notebook, I'm going to draw a little, a little bullet point and then I'm going to write down what the task is and when I'd finished the task, when an X out over that bullet point, and there are a couple of different like little like keys or legends that you can use. Like if you're taking a note, it's just a dash. If you have an appointment, you can draw a circle it so on and so forth. So there are a couple of like little indicators for different things that you might be writing about, but it's essentially just that it's making, it's a making a list every day of what you have to do. And there are a couple of other ways to break it down. Like you can have a monthly layout to kind of look at what do I have coming up this month.
Matt Ragland (47:49): It's also called a future log. If you're like, lot of people do habit trackers in them. And again, you can have really beautiful habit trackers. You can, again, just have a list of like, here are the days of the month. Here's the habit that I'm trying to track. Did it this day, didn't do it this other day. So what I teach with the bullet journal is more of that minimalist simple structure of, Hey, if you want to add art to it later on. Great. I've started doing like a little, some little like icons and doodles in mine. I just find it, I find it fun, but it's a really simple way to just plan out your day and what I like about it versus more digital task managers is, you know, I'm, I'm a content creator. I spend the majority of my day working in front of a screen.
Matt Ragland (48:41): And so I like, I really enjoy that. There are things that I get to do each day that are offline because it helps keep me more focused, not just even when I'm planning, but when I'm doing these things as well, like I have, it's actually out on my other desk right now, but normally I have like either my bullet journal or just a little field notes, pocket notebook of like what my plan is for the day and what are those important tasks. And that helps me stay more focused because if I go, I don't use, I don't use tasks or things or to do list. If I have a digital task manager, it's usually in notion and a lot of people are like, well, you use notion a lot anyway. And yes I do. That's like my main project hub, but unless I'm collaborating with other people on a task, then I won't put it in notion because even if I go into notion, I'm going to be distracted by something else in notion like, oh, I have this thing I have to write, or I have this project or like someone pinged me, you know, a contractor or my assistant pinged me for this update that I have.
Matt Ragland (49:48): And I know even in a productivity tool, I'm going to be distracted productively, but I'm going to be distracted away from looking at whatever my like daily or weekly plan is. So I tend to do all of my like day of, or week of planning and to do items in the bullet journal, I'll do like long, bigger project planning, layouts research. I do a lot of that digitally because of course that's easier, but when it comes to like, here's what I have to do today. I pretty much write all of that down.
Hayley Akins (50:21): Yeah. So how do you decide what the most important things to that day is?
Matt Ragland (50:30): Yeah, of course I have a weekly planning acronym that I use called gap. And what that stands for is the goal that I have, the goal or goals that I have for the week. And a lot of times that cascades down from a goal that I might have from a month or six weeks sprint that I'm working on, but what's my goal for goal or goals for the week. What are the action items associated with those goals? And then that's the a and then the P is when do I protect the time to actually do those? So it's a little bit of a mini productivity kit, like kind of bundled together that I focus on each week, like these different power-ups. So like goal setting, prioritization, task management, through the actions and then calendar blocking with protecting the time. And so those whatever is associated with my top goals for the week, those action items, those are the ones that I focus on the most at the beginning part of the week and everything else.
Matt Ragland (51:29): I also like write out any, any like to-do items that come up during the week. I have another page on my bullet journal that just kind of like list tasks as they come in. And I can, whenever I do a day, I can like Mike migrate those over to like, okay, well I have this thing to do. I'm going to go ahead and do it today during this time and do a little bit of like planning protection. But usually it's the way that I prioritize and decide what tasks are most important are based on the weekly preview that I'll do that follows that goal action protection system.
Hayley Akins (52:06): Yeah, that sounds awesome. Well, I think this has been like so helpful for everyone and I'd love you to just tell everyone where they can find out more about you and you know, maybe your YouTube channel and stuff like that. Cause I'm sure now everyone's got a taste for it. They want to dive in to learn all about it.
Matt Ragland (52:24): Yeah. Well, thanks so much for having me. Hailey IaaS is really awesome to talk to you and the, the best places to find me, I'm pretty much like I've locked up most of the Matt Ragland real estate on the internet. And so if you just go to youtube.com/matt Raglin. That's where my YouTube channel is. You can also find me on social media at Matt Ragland on Twitter and Instagram. I'm on Twitter five times as much as I'm on Instagram. So that's more of the place for me. And then in terms of gear, I also have Matt ragland.com, but in terms of where you can find the best, like connect, getting to know me productivity systems, you can go to three keys.fyi, and that's the number three keys as in like door locks and stuff.fyi. And it's a three keys like framework. It's a free video, it's a little worksheet. And then some follow up emails that just explain it in more detail, but Matt Ragland on the internet and then three keys.fyi too. Can they get a taste and learn a little bit more? Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming
Hayley Akins (53:29): On the show, Matt. This is great. Yeah, it was my pleasure. Thanks Haley. Thanks Matt. For coming on the show today, as always, you can find all the show notes and any links we mentioned on our website at motionhatch.com/ 89. If you enjoyed this podcast, we would really appreciate it. If you could leave us a rating and review wherever you get your podcasts from and make sure you do subscribe because we've got a lot of amazing episodes coming up as we're fast approaching episode 100, I'd like to thank BMR media for editing this podcast and Sona Sanctus for providing the music. The show also couldn't happen without the help of the most attached team. So thanks Hannah and Georgia as well for helping me produce this show. Thanks to you, of course, for listening to this podcast. And if you ever need help with any of your motion design, career struggles, then why not reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing from you and we'd be happy to help. Thanks so much for listening all the way at the end. I appreciate you. Yeah.
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