5 Productivity Tips for Online Course Creators: Use Time to Your Advantage and Create Something Amazing

April 7, 2022
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Our society is obsessed with productivity. We are constantly looking for ways to be more efficient and get more done in less time. The productivity obsession in our country can be traced back to Henry Ford, who is often credited with the invention of the 40-hour workweek.

His goal was maximum productivity in the least amount of time necessary. And while many of his techniques—like the invention of the assembly line—were great for workers in the manufacturing industry, they haven't necessarily carried over well into a world where much of our work (and sometimes our perceived self-worth) is tied to our creative abilities.

As an online course creator, the ultimate goal is to achieve maximum productivity while still maintaining the integrity of the creative process. You want to find the balance between working quickly while still creating high-quality online courses.

In this blog post, we will share productivity tips for online course creators that will help you make the most of your time and still create an online course worth taking.

To achieve maximum productivity for online course creators while still maintaining your creative focus, put processes and tools into places like SOP documents, templates, and project management tools.

Follow these tips and you'll be on your way to creating a successful online course business!

Create an SOP for Your Online Courses

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A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a set of written instructions that documents your course creation process. The main purpose of an SOP is to ensure consistency and efficiency in the performance of a particular task.

SOPs are used by online course creators to document the steps they take to create a course. It's one of my favorite productivity tips for online course creators because not only does it save time, but it also ensures that every online course you create follows a consistent process. This document can be used as a reference when creating future courses and can also help to ensure consistency in the quality of your courses.

When developing an SOP, it is important to be as specific and detailed as possible. The goal is to create a document that can be followed without any ambiguity or confusion. To create an SOP, start by documenting the steps you take to create an online course, from start to finish.

Be sure to include details such as:

  • The order of the steps: create the course outline first, then write the course content, etc.
  • How long each step takes: this will also help you build a realistic timeline for completion.
  • What software to use: document where you host your online course, what you use to create all your videos, and any other software you use for content creation.
  • Who is responsible for each step: if you outsource any of the processes to someone else, be sure to list detailed instructions on who does what.
  • How you will sell online courses: include marketing strategy and steps for advertising your courses.

Once you have created your SOP, it is important to test it out. Have a colleague or friend follow the steps in your document to see if they encounter any problems. Make revisions as necessary and then store your SOP in a safe place where it can be accessed when needed.

Once you have a process that works for you, you can stop worrying about logistics and remain focused on the creative process and putting all your ideas into place.

Build Templates

Computer Screen With a Template

If you're planning on creating more than one online course, one of the first things you'll need to do is develop a template. A template will serve as the foundation for your course, providing a structure and a consistent look and feel.

There are a few things to keep in mind when creating a template for your online course. First, consider the overall design and layout of the template. What kind of information do you want to include? How will it be organized? Second, think about the tone and style of the template. Do you want it to be formal or casual? Third, make sure that the template is easy to use and navigate. Remember, your goal is to create a user-friendly experience for your students.

Here are some things you should consider including in your templates:

  • The title or introductory page of your online course: this is where you will include your course title, logo, and other branding elements.
  • The table of contents: list the topics and chapter headings for your course.
  • The introduction: introduce your students to the course and explain what they can expect to learn.
  • The body of the course: include the main content of your course, divided into chapters or modules.
  • End-of-course materials: thank your students for taking the course and provide them with any additional resources or information they may need.

Once you have created a template, it is important to test it out just like you will with your SOP document. When you use the templates for the first time, you'll notice if you missed anything or if any of your templates need revisions.

Set Deadlines and Create Milestones for Your Online Courses

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Setting deadlines and creating milestones for your online courses is essential if you want to quickly build your online course business.

Here are some tips:

1. Choose a reasonable start date and an end date for your course. This will give you a timeline to work with and help you stay focused. If you're new to creating online courses, check out this article on how long it takes to create an online course.

2. Create milestones along the way. These can be specific goals you want to achieve, such as finishing the outline for your course or recording the first module. Having milestones will help you track your progress and stay motivated.

3. Make sure your deadlines are realistic. This goes back to the idea of a new outlook on productivity for creatives. If you're putting too much pressure on yourself, you're likely to get overwhelmed and give up, or your ideas will be lacking in quality. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the time frame you have set, and allow yourself plenty of time for capturing ideas.

Automate, Delegate, and Eliminate

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In The 4 Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss provides a framework for creating more free time in your life by automating, delegating, and eliminating tasks. This is one of the best productivity tips because it eliminates time-consuming tasks and opens up additional time for distraction-free working.

One way to automate is to use technology to complete repetitive tasks. For example, you can set up a password manager or form filler to automatically fill in online forms, or you can build an email filter to automatically delete junk mail.

Delegation is another key strategy. As an online course creator, delegating certain tasks to others will allow you to free up your own time to work on the parts of the creation process where you are an expert.

Finally, eliminating unnecessary tasks can also help you to create more free time. This may mean saying no to requests that will not add value to your life or simplifying your schedule to eliminate non-essential activities while you work to get your online course business off the ground.

“Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined. Otherwise, you waste someone else’s time instead of your own, which now wastes your hard-earned cash.” - Timothy Ferriss

Things to Automate

There are plenty of great programs available to help you automate tedious daily tasks. Here are some ideas:

  • Appointment scheduling: allow people to schedule calls with you by using a Calendly link.
  • Sorting junk emails: use a program like Unroll.me to clean up your inbox and remove unnecessary emails
  • Social media posting: schedule your posts ahead of time with a program like Later.
  • Invoicing and billing: QuickBooks and other similar tools have options to automate recurring invoices.

Things to Delegate

Virtual assistants (VAs) are becoming increasingly popular for busy online entrepreneurs who need to get more done in less time.

Consider delegating some of the following to a virtual assistant:

  • Social media content creation
  • Accounting and taxes
  • Invoicing
  • Video editing
  • Audio editing
  • Blog post and newsletter setup

Things to Eliminate

As much as we like to fill up our to-do list, some things really don't NEED to be done.

Here are some things to consider eliminating from your to-do list:

  • Unnecessary meetings: if it can get done through email, don't waste time on a meeting.
  • Outdated processes like paper-based or manual tasks: see automation, above.
  • Unimportant data collection: are the number of likes on your Instagram posts really an important metric? If not, stop tracking them!

Use a Project Management Software

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Project management software can be a helpful tool when creating an online course. It can help you to keep track of deadlines, assigned tasks, and track progress. In addition, project management software can help you communicate with team members or freelancers and keep track of their work.

When using a project management tool to create an online course, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure to choose software that is compatible with other course creation tools you are using. If it can integrate with your CRM or lead generation system, even better!

Second, create a timeline for each task and assign it to yourself or a team member. This will ensure that every single task is in one place so you don't inadvertently miss something.

Finally, use the project management software to track progress and communicate with team members throughout the process. By following these tips, you can ensure that your online course is created on time.

Here are some popular project management tools:

Other Helpful Time Management Tips for the Online Course Creator

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Once you put the five tips above into place, you'll begin to notice that tasks and projects are taking less time because you've already set yourself up for prime productivity.

Here are a few other general time management tips we love:

Remove Distractions

In today's world, it can be difficult to focus on anything for more than a few minutes without being pulled in a hundred different directions. From push notifications on your phone to the constant temptation of social media, there are endless distractions vying for our attention. However, there are a few simple ways to reduce distractions and increase focus.

One of the most effective methods is to establish set times for checking emails and social media accounts. For example, try checking email once in the morning and once in the afternoon, rather than all throughout the day.

It can also be helpful to turn off push notifications for email and social media so you have protected, distraction-free working time. If you are working from a computer, turn on the "Do Not Disturb" button for a set period of time, which will stop your email, calendar, and social media notifications and allow you to stay focused.

Time Blocking

Time blocking is another one of my favorite time management tips. It's a technique that involves dividing your day into blocks of time dedicated to specific tasks. For example, you might block off an hour for answering an email, two hours for working on a project, and so on. The goal of time blocking is to help you focus on one task at a time, without getting distracted by other demands on your time.

To be effective, time blocking requires some planning and preparation. First, you need to create a list of the tasks you need to accomplish during the day. Next, you need to estimate how long each task will take and block off the appropriate amount of time in your schedule. Finally, you need to stick to your schedule as much as possible and resist the temptation to multitask.

When you build out your template for time blocking (see, another template to help with productivity!) make sure that you aren't dedicating 100% of your time. You should allow time for emergencies or urgent tasks to come up. By leaving 25-30% of your time open, you'll allow yourself some flexibility in your schedule if something takes longer than expected.

Here are some things to consider blocking off time for during your week:

  • checking and responding to emails
  • networking and engagement in relevant social media groups
  • planning out your course content
  • time to record videos or audio
  • proofreading and editing
  • uploading your courses
  • creative brainstorming (seriously, protect some time for this!)

When used effectively, time blocking can help you boost productivity and minimize stress.

Use the "One Minute Rule"

When it comes to getting things done, the one-minute rule can be a lifesaver and can help remove multiple tasks from your to-do list right away. The basic premise is simple: if something takes less than one minute to do, just do it.

For example, if you get an email that can be quickly answered during your email time block, take care of it right away rather than letting it sit in your inbox. Or, if you need to pay an online bill or send an invoice, take care of it as soon as possible rather than waiting until the last minute.

Of course, there will be times when the one-minute rule doesn't apply. If something is going to take more than one or two minutes, it's probably best to set aside some dedicated time to work on it. However, for small tasks that can be easily completed in a minute or two, the one-minute rule is a great way to stay productive.

Time-Tested Books on Productivity from Top Experts

A Man in a Yellow Shirt Reading a Book

Not all productivity hacks and time management tips will work for everyone, so it's important to test things out and find tools that work for you. If the idea of boosting productivity is something you'd like to learn more about, check out some of these bestselling books:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

Badass Habits: Cultivate the Awareness, Boundaries, and Daily Upgrades You Need to Make Them Stick by Jen Sincero

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Bonus Podcast: Excel Expert Billy Wigley Explains the Importance of Having Systems for Your Business

Give Yourself Some Grace

A Woman Looking at a Phone in Front of a Computer

I'll leave you with one last tip, which is to give yourself some grace. Don't feel like you need to implement every single one of these techniques right away, and don't beat yourself up if you go down the rabbit hole of cat memes every now and then.

But even implementing one of two of these productivity tips can help eliminate distractions and allow you more time to dive into a deep work session. Soon enough, you'll be launching courses in much less time than before!

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