I’m so thrilled to be sharing this post as part of Val Geisler’s “12 Days of Systems Challenge”. It’s a crazy awesome series of posts by talented entrepreneurs sharing their best tips and tricks on productivity and simplifying their work, and life! You can check out the full line-up riiiiight over here.

Needless to say, I’m super excited to be sharing my #1 tool for staying on track, and sorting out what I can move down the list. It works great for work, life, and just about any task you need to get laser focused on.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a film chic. I love character driven stories, beautiful cinematography, and I always cry during a touching moment in a movie. It doesn’t matter if I’ve watched it 10 times already.

I also work in the film industry. And shoot my own videos. What I’ve noticed by working on all these different projects: is that EVERYTHING STARTS WITH AN IDEA that you want to turn into reality.

So it doesn’t matter if you’re building a business, running a family, or shooting a super bowl commercial. Somewhere along the way, you’ve got to come up with a PLAN.

So how does Warner Bros or videographers like me turn an in idea into reality?

Storyboarding.

Okay, but what the heck is a storyboard and what does that have to do with productivity?

A storyboard is a series of drawn images that break down the script so everyone on the production knows exactly what that scene will look like, and how the team needs to pull it together.

It’s a way to segment a huge idea or project into pieces with visual steps and it works like this. Sometimes I get a great idea, but the idea needs an action plan. But before I know it, the action plan turns convoluted and I need to do 20 other things just to get this one thing done. Then by the time I’m doing those other things, I’ve completely lost track of what I should be focusing on. This results in a very overwhelmed Emmy.

So, whenever starting to feel this, I pull out a pen and paper and start making my main storyboard items.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ELEMENTS/COMPONENTS YOU NEED TO GET CLEAR ON?

These should be the big picture, umbrella concepts. You’ll see that when you start to work through them, there might be some overlap, so starting with just 3 or 4 main categories helps to simplify and streamline. For me, it’s my online course: Craft to Camera, my client projects and my life. It’s funny how “my life” always ends up being a category, but I encourage you to do the same. It will help you to keep your plans in line with your fundamentals.

Then, I just start writing down all the things that I need to do and match it with the right category.

Don’t be afraid to write too much stuff down. The point of this storyboarding idea is to get everything OUT on paper, so you can see patterns and come up with an action plan.

Write down things that need to get done right now, the things that you would rather delegate, and write down the things that matter to you. This is your storyboard, so make it really resonate with where you’re at right now.

Once you’ve written everything down, take a deep breath, and know that you’ve just taken the first step to getting clearer and feeling less overwhelmed already.

Don’t believe me? Then do this next:

Highlight the things that need to get done right now.

You might notice that once you’ve gotten everything on paper, that there are only a couple things that are pressing. Commit to getting those key things done in a reasonable time frame, and cross them off your storyboard when you’re done.

If those items are really big, consider it like a big scene: there are driving cars, running crowds, and special effects that all need to happen.

Not a problem. Take that big idea or “scene” and break it down into its own storyboard. This time, you can try chronologically ordering your ideas like an actual storyboard.

For example, the big picture idea is delivering my online course. So, what do I need to do first? Try to think of this in a linear storyline: first is the launch (and all the things that go along with it), then it’s module content, then it’s working with people week by week.

Draw it out and you’ll see that you can start to see what is actually something you can start to take action on, and what can wait.

I like to keep my storyboard somewhere that I can easily see and reference it to keep me in check. I also really like crossing things off the list!

As you work through your storyboard, re-visit your sections and see if everything is actually something you need to do.

Sometimes overwhelm is created by the idea of wanting to accomplish more than we can in a given time period, but as we get on track, it becomes evident that some things are WANTS and only a few are NEEDS.

So it doesn’t matter how big or small your task is, if you’re feeling lost without a plan, or needing clarity to get out of overwhelm, try storyboarding your thoughts, and give yourself a pat on the back as those big ideas turn into reality. And do it way calmer and with more focus.

Want to continue the conversation? I’d love for you to join me on Instagram. You’ll see posts about video, travel, and growing a creative business, while always honouring your heart and soul in the process.

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