How to be an Efficient Filmmaker (and Person): Part 1 – Keep Up with Your Calendar

“How did you make 12 Westerns in 12 Months?” I get that question often. People wonder how it was possible to plan, shoot, and even start post-production on twelve films in a year. The question persists… last year, how did I write and publish plenty of scripts/books, organize and produce two feature films, start a podcast, manage several social media pages, and still manage to watch 230 movies. The answer is not that I’m special. It’s that I’ve learned methods over the years to be organized and disciplined.
Most people who aren’t being as productive as they can be are coming up short for two reasons: 1. They truly don’t want to. 2. They don’t have the right system to keep them on task. So, for what it’s worth, over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some techniques and advice about how to be an efficient filmmaker, but really this can be applied to any profession and even your personal life.
My Google calendar is an essential tool. I check it daily, on my phone and computer, sometimes multiple times a day. Of course, it reminds me what I have going on and what I have coming up. If it’s not in the calendar, there’s a good chance I will forget. But for me, it’s much more than just a reminder of meetings and events. I use it to plan the way I will attack each day, week, and month. I use a color coded system for such tasks as writing, reading, editing, social media, and other essential tasks. I mark when to follow up with people, usually once every week or two weeks, so I’m staying on top of the situation but not bugging them. As I go through a day, I delete these items as they’re accomplished, which feels good of course. The goal is to end the day with a clean slate, a goal that I don’t always reach but one that keeps me productive in the effort to do so.
Combined with time management and detailed lists (both of which I will address in the coming weeks), my calendar is a foundational tool for being efficient. The filmmakers/people I know who aren’t organized, who don’t stay on top of their work and are always letting things fall through the cracks, don’t consistently rely on their calendar. That’s one reason they’re having problems. More next week.