Batching & Buffer Building

If you have a publishing schedule that you’ve committed to, you know the feeling of pressure that comes along each week as publish day approaches.

For many years I only worked one week at a time, never getting ahead, always on a hamster wheel .

Lately though, I’ve taken a different approach, one that I first explore in this video: How I Create My Own Sabbaticals.

The idea is this: build up a buffer of content that will then last you a certain number of weeks or months, so that you can focus your energy elsewhere during those weeks.

But how do you actually build up that buffer?

Here I share a simple project-tracking document that helps me to do that.

It starts like this:

The header of this buffer building project tracker reminds me why I building it and the steps I need to take with each individual video I’m creating.

I found it helpful to include a few of the specific reasons I was building this buffer at the top of the page: to fill in the gaps during a 10-day road trip that my wife and I were taking and to set myself up for weeks of work on the final stage of development of our latest course, Digital Sketchnoting.

That was a helpful reminder of why I was putting in all of this upfront work.

Below that you’ll see my step-by-step process for creating sketchnote videos, the content type that I was focusing on during this time of buffer-building.

I explore those steps in more depth here: Whiteboard Animation Workflow.

That light blue line represents the three most creatively-demanding steps. Those are the steps I focused on getting through first with all of the videos, knowing that it would be downhill from there.

With my purpose and process clearly outlined, the next step was to identify the specific videos I wanted to work on:

The key here is to identify enough to take advantage of the batching process (staying in a similar work mode for long periods of time), without overwhelming yourself with the number of distinct ideas you’re trying to keep straight in your head.

The list must be finite, because you’ve got to get to work making the things!

The hardest part in this step is to stop adding to the list and actually get down to work on the videos. Brainstorming mode is fun, and once you start thinking of new video ideas, it can be hard to stop.

A major purpose of this document, then, is a reminder to myself “These (and only these) are the videos that I’m working on right now, until they’re all done.”

I’m also not afraid to pull back even further, removing some of the videos I thought would be a part of this batching session, and saving them for later:

Don’t be afraid to cut back as you go. Those videos can wait for a future buffer building period.

When getting down to work on those videos, it was satisfying to check off a box or two each day.

As I write these words, I’m getting closer and closer to checking off the final box – the “Prep the Post” box for A Visual Record for Buffer-Building (renamed Batching and Buffer Building).

What comes next for me is weeks of focus on Digital Sketchnoting, knowing that I’ve got all of these videos and blog posts ready to publish.

That’s a satisfying feeling.


Free Sketchnoting Guide

Want to give sketchnoting a try but not sure where to start? Check out this sample of The Verbal To Visual Notebook:

That 100% hand-sketched notebook includes a set of prompts to help you put pen to paper and start sketching out ideas yourself.

You can get the free guide here.