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Productivity in Isolation

For many voice actors a career in voice over can often mean a career in isolation. Recording from your own studio, processing your own audio, and outreaching to clients from your home base is often the name of the game! And in a COVID impacted environment this reality has been greatly exasperated. For myself at least, I have found it an extra challenge to maintain my productivity during this time.

So then, how do I personally fight the good fight and ensure a productive work life in isolation?

Well, in a few ways:

  • Business Rules: I create rules that I utilize to govern my daily business activities. These rules define how I go about completing my daily work tasks. An example of a business rule I utilize is to know all my planned activities for the next day before I go to sleep the night before. That way I pop out of bed and am ready to rock!

  • Life Rules: I also leverage rules to govern elements outside my business life that could be negatively impacting it. These rules structure how I constrain my personal life habits when in the 'home work environment'. An example of this is me limiting myself to check social media only twice a day for a few minutes. This rule in particular is extra important for me as the separation between business and personal in VO social media is extremely nebulous.

  • Weekly Evaluation: At the end of each week I reflect on my tasks, and evaluate myself based on the amount I have accomplished and the efficiency of my work. After doing this I give myself a simple letter score that I am comfortable with (i.e. A+, C-, etc...). This helps me at a glance quickly acknowledge my accomplishments and areas of needed improvement.

  • Week Goals: At the start of each week, I determine my overarching goals for the week. I don't get into the weeds regarding daily tasks and instead focus on high level goals only. An example of a high level goal would be something like 'Complete research on the eLearning VO environment'. Often these goals are pulled from discoveries of the last week. With these goals I stay focused, and ensure I am both at a high level improving as a voice artist while simultaneously completing day to day tasks.

  • Structured Days: Each day I focus specifically on the tasks I have set for myself the day before, on top of daily tasks that have come up and are time sensitive. I slot in tasks the night before so I am clear regarding my next day's work. Sometimes this involves slotting in weekly goals, and other times pressing activities that have come up. By doing this, I find I am much more energized and focused on my daily activities.

  • Productivity Timers: This one is super important and I was surprised by how much it boosted my productivity. It is a simple concept, set a timer for work time and break time that you stick to without fail. For myself, I change my work time and break time based on the day of the week, generally starting the week with a more generous break timer, and tightening it across the week. This current set-up results in my focus increasing across the week giving my brain time to adjust from my previous period of true time off.

I know this seems like a lot to consider but doing the above is as simple as creating a basic template and then following it. And this simple structure has been a complete asset for my productivity.

Truly, this simple structure is key in ensuring my productivity across the week.

And for an example of how simple it can be, check out this sample:

Across utilizing this simple personal framework, I have discovered one thing that is so important! Genuinely, productivity is just as much about getting stuff done, as it is about having the feeling of being productive. We have all been in that place where we work ourselves to the bone all week but are left feeling like we accomplished nothing. By utilizing the system above not only do I get work done effectively, but I feel as if I am constantly moving towards my goals in a productive fashion.

And that feels good!!!

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