The creative process can be disorganized and difficult to predict. Content creators who struggle to maintain balance should assemble a production schedule to help.
Content creation takes a lot of time. This is true whether you’re a writer, illustrator, podcaster, or any other kind of creator. Research, writing, collaborating, recording, editing, posting, and marketing all need to take place on the regular.
This continual creation process requires a lot of focus, structure, and grit to maintain over the long haul. If you’re a content creator that is struggling to keep up with the content-related demands of your show, channel, or other platforms, you may want to re-evaluate your production schedule (or create one in the first place) to make sure it’s teeing you up for success.
Why a production schedule matters
Poor planning and an unorganized use of resources can directly lead to missed deadlines and delayed production. Even so, both of those are common occurrences in the content creation industry. It’s all too easy for artistic personalities to prioritize their craft to the exclusion of other key elements.
And yet, if content creators want to be successful over time (and without burning themselves out) they need to embrace the more structured part of their work. One of the best ways to insert a sense of consistency and predictability into something as unpredictable as the creative process is by maintaining a production schedule.
What is a production schedule?
In business, a production schedule functions as a blueprint for how a person or company will provide various products or services over time. It is a document or set of rules that guides a team through the manufacturing and production process.
Production schedules take many different things into consideration and tend to be full of little, easy-to-overlook details. In the case of a product, such as a piece of content, a production schedule should consider everything from time and tools to materials and logistics. It should account for potential issues and consider ways to address them, as well.
In short, a production schedule maps out what, when, and how you will create your content. Take, for instance, a freelance writer who creates a production schedule for their work. This should help them gain a clear view of things like:
- Who they’re working for.
- What they’re writing for each client.
- When each piece of writing is due.
- How they will write each item (eg research needed, required tools like Grammarly, etc.)
The ultimate goal of a production schedule is to create a familiar and streamlined path each time you go to create content.
3 key benefits of production schedules
Having a predictable, thought-out approach to content production can yield many different advantages. Here are a few of the biggest ways a production schedule can revolutionize your content creation flow:
1. Superior efficiency
By putting every step of your process into writing, you create a powerful resource. This can help you keep the nitty-gritty details in mind — something that’s easy to forget when you’re in the midst of the creative process.
This has a natural effect of boosting your overall efficiency. Scheduling things can help you avoid crunch times and stay ahead of your goals. It can also help you prioritize what’s important at any given moment, too.
If you work with a larger group of content creators, a production schedule can also boost your efficiency through better communication. Everyone can use the document to stay on the same page. They can answer simple questions — like “what happens next in the process?” or “when does this need to be posted?” — without interrupting others, as well.
2. Higher creativity
The chief function of a content creator is to create. However, as we already hinted at earlier, falling behind on production and missing deadlines can hamper creativity itself.
Establishing a solid, dependable structure for your creative processes (and the business activities that surround them) can have a powerful indirect impact on your creativity.
A production schedule allows you to keep track of responsibilities in both the present and the future. This means they aren’t open loops (ie commitments you’ve made that you haven’t come through on yet) taking up space in your brain.
Instead, they are safely ensconced in your production schedule, where you can attend to them when the time comes. This allows you to provide your full and complete focus on unleashing your creativity when it’s time to do so.
3. Better use of resources
The amount of wasted resources that go into content creation can be appalling. This starts with obvious things, like physical resources that you might use on unnecessary or unwanted projects. It can also extend to both time and energy, too.
Take the aforementioned freelance writing situation as an example. If a writer has a clear production schedule in place, they will be able to set up writing times during periods of the day when their creativity flows better. They will also stay on top of deadlines, which means their composition won’t be mentally cluttered by stress. They’ll also be in close communication with clients, so they’ll be more likely to write things correctly on the first draft.
If you have a clear plan in place via a production schedule, it enables you to target your content creation. This leads to better use of resources, often at every step of the creation process.
How to set up an efficient production schedule
There are many powerful benefits that come from organizing your content creation with a production schedule. However, if you want to tap into those benefits, you need to do a few things first.
Here are a few tips to help you set up and utilize your own production schedule to create consistent, high-quality content.
1. Find the right tools
You can create a production schedule on a plain old Word doc. You can also use a workflow platform like Trello or Asana if you want a more dynamic option. There are many other options besides these.
The important thing is that you start the process by finding a tool that will help you stay organized — and that can adapt to your needs over time.
2. Track down information
Next up, collect all of the information that is pertinent to your production schedule. This information will vary depending on a variety of factors.
The kind of content you create is obviously one of these. But you also need to consider things like posting frequency, deadlines, and scheduling.
Gather everything that feeds into the logistical and structural process when you go to create content. Once you have everything, organize it within your production schedule in a manner that works best for you to keep track of everything.
3. Share your production schedule
Your production schedule is clearly a benefit for you. But is there anyone else who can benefit from having it?
If you work with a team, share your schedule with team members. Contractors and other hired help may also need to be aware of the information. If you collaborate often with other content creators, they may be able to gain something from the document, as well.
4. Cut out the unnecessary stuff
Once you have a production schedule in place, it can help you get a better picture of how efficient (or inefficient) you are as you create content. Use this information to clean up and improve your processes.
For instance, if you’re a podcaster, your production schedule might show you that you’re spending a lot of time on logistics when you host a guest. SquadCast, a SaaS remote recording platform, suggests embracing remote recording as a way to efficiently and effectively have a guest on your show. By recording remotely (with good software) you can maintain high quality without going through the rigmarole and extra time of setting up an in-person recording session.
5. Get on a rhythm
Your production schedule is a blueprint with information. But it can also double as a way to create a powerful rhythm for your content creation activities.
As you create a production structure, use it to get into a content creation groove. Embrace the rhythmic flow of your production schedule as a way to keep those creative juices flowing on a regular basis.
6. Boost your content quality
Finally, by creating an overarching approach to your creative process, you can also look for ways to improve. Use your production schedule as a way to identify weak spots in your creative process.
Where are you falling short as you come up with content? How can you improve the quality of even your best past work? It’s much easier to have informed answers to questions like these when you have a production schedule at your fingertips.
Use a production schedule to revolutionize your content creation
Content creation is fun. It’s exhilarating. But it can also be overwhelming — and even stressful at times.
If you find that you’re missing deadlines, burning out, and generally struggling to keep up, consider creating a production schedule to restore a sense of organization and focus to your creative process.
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