Friday, June 25, 2021

Manage Your Calendar for Streaming

If you’re just starting out, do you have a hard time finding a solid place in your day for streaming? If you’ve already been streaming, do you find you often can’t keep to your schedule? Or maybe you just want to squeeze a little extra time out of your regularly scheduled shows. I find that in order to maintain a solid streaming regimen, it’s very useful to stay organized. In the entry How to Get in the Habit of Streaming, I talked about setting up a calendar and sticking to it. I know, this might seem like one of those empty ‘self-help’ suggestions that sound like a good idea on paper, but don’t actually work in real life. After maintaining a detailed calendar every single day for over two years however, I can say with confidence that it’s not just a good idea on paper. This one simple routine has helped me immensely in creating a solid streaming lifestyle, and even more importantly, it’s helped me not to destroy my personal life in the process. You can check the previously mentioned entry for all the reasons why a calendar is useful for streaming, but in this entry I’ll help you with more specifics about how to actually set one up for yourself, and how you can optimize it for streaming. 


What are you doing tomorrow? Whether it’s a workday or a day off, we’ll use tomorrow as an example to help you shape the rest of your days. Maybe you’ve never kept track of your days before, or maybe you’ve already been sticking to a calendar. Either way, try to come into this exercise with an open mind. As I mentioned in the entry How to Find the Time to Stream on Twitch, we all tend to think we’re already at our maximum output levels, no matter how efficient we’re actually being. It’s a concept called the Hedonic Treadmill, which means you’re always going to settle into a groove. What we’re going to do today is break you out of that comfortable rut, and help you to rise even higher.  

Set up Google Calendar, iCal, or any free calendar app where you can easily create blocks of time and drag them around. I personally advise against writing your plans on a piece of paper, as it’s difficult to move and alter things on a physical page. A digital app will give you a lot more freedom to be creative with your schedule. Once you have your calendar app ready, we’re going to identify everything you have planned for tomorrow.


In XCOM, it's always important to stay
on top of your schedule.

When mapping out your day, the key is to break things down into two categories:
primary and secondary items. One of these tends to be longer than the other, but both are equally important when scheduling. Primary items are your plans, like work, a dinner reservation, meeting a friend, or a Twitch stream. Secondary items are all the spaces of time that are required to make these things happen: the time it takes to get ready for work, drive to the office, drive home from dinner, or set up your Twitch stream before going live, are all good examples. If you work from 9-5 for instance, that should be on your calendar as a primary item. It’s a big chunk of time in which you are locked into doing something. But you should also have the prep time and travel time blocked into your calendar leading up to 9:00, for however long these items take. This gives you a definite idea of how long you need. Now, most of us know instinctively how long it takes to get to work because we do it so often, but applying this same principle to all your other tasks is where this workflow really starts to become useful. Once this is done for everything, you’ll have a clear visual reference for where your time commitments lie, and where there is room for free activity. Don’t forget to pad everything out with a little bit of extra time either. Life is unpredictable, and I like to assume that everything will take 15-30 minutes longer than it normally takes, just in case something unexpected comes up. Lastly, add the time you usually go to sleep and wake up. 

And there you have it: your day is displayed right in front of you. No matter how cluttered or empty that day is, you can now actually see what you’re up against. A lot of people like to keep themselves in the dark, afraid to look at their scheduling problems head-on. But by creating this graph, you’re rebelling against this natural human flight instinct. And now you can comfortably move onto streaming. If you’ve previously been concerned that you don’t have enough time for streaming, see if that’s still the case now. I’m willing to bet that there are some blank spaces in your day somewhere. Find a nice free spot, and use it to build your dream. 


When you can see your day visually, organizing
often feels like playing Tetris.

Whatever spot in the day you choose, insert a primary block of time into your calendar in that empty space. If you don’t see a large enough free space in the day for your stream, then either remove unimportant items, shift changeable things around, or, worst case scenario, push back your planned sleep time by a little bit. By doing one or multiple of these things, even those with solid streaming habits can find extra time to extend their broadcasts. You’d be surprised how many things can shift out of the way when you’re able to actually see your day clearly.  And if you can’t do any of those things, then simply shorten your stream to fit. There are no excuses. Stream for one minute if you have to, as long as you stick to your plan. As you continue using this kind of calendar, you’ll get better at managing your day. And by sticking with it, you’ll find more and more creative ways to shift things around and make time appear where there seemingly was none before. 

By doing all this, you’re creating a reservation time for streaming in your day that’s just as important as anything else you’ve committed to- a time when you’re unavailable to do anything else. Many streamers miss their shows because in the hierarchy of their days, streaming is the easiest thing to push back or cancel. Our objective is to make the stream of equal importance to a dinner reservation, trip to the theater, doctor’s appointment, or any other scheduled meeting with a beginning or end. We’re turning streaming into an absolute priority. I’ve used this method to go live thousands of times in a row without ever missing a single broadcast. Hopefully you’ll find just as much value when you manage your calendar for streaming. 

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