10 Years as a TV Production Manager
I have worked for more than a decade in the television industry and I have worked on everything from small documentaries to big game shows. I have also worked for small and large companies. There are a few tips that apply to all TV productions regardless of the amount of time it requires or the size of the budget.
Here is my basic guide that I have created based upon both my successes and failures in the industry
1. Don’t Rely on your Memory! Write Everything Down
Every task that you have to complete should be written down! It does matter whether you are a runner, the Director of Photography, or the TV production manager you must record your tasks. This will allow your mind to focus on the creative side of the work and you can forget about everything else. There are apps that you can download that can help or you can simply carry a small pad and a pen.
2. Make A Plan For Your Next Day Of TV Production
The best way to have a successful TV production day is to go over it the night before. Take ten minutes before bed to go over your commitments for the next day. Are there any important meetings that can’t be missed? Do you need to have anything prepared for those meetings? Organize everything that you will need. Prioritize three to five tasks to complete the next day. Figure out what order you will do them in. Reassess your to-do list. Does everything have to be completed by you? Can it be done by someone else? Maybe you missed ticking off something that has already been completed or is no longer necessary.
Preparing yourself at the end of each day ensures that you will not miss out on important priorities that may slow down production.
3. Do Your Most Difficult Task First
Everyone has tasks that they hate doing. It could be confronting someone about their work, creating that TV production plan or creating the call sheet from scratch. If it is taking up space in your thoughts you need to get it finished as soon as possible. Don’t waste another minute feeling guilty that the task is not completed. The time has come to stop wasting your energy on this. Make that the first thing that you do the next day. Getting it finished will leave you feeling exhilarated that the monumental task is
4. Remove All Distractions
Constant interruptions can put a major damper on your TV production productivity! In today’s busy world there are so many sources for distractions. Phone calls, emails, social media updates and people showing up unannounced at your door can all affect your productivity. The same technology that makes communication so much easier can also make your job so much harder. But this is something that you can control. Set a time limit to accomplish a task and remove all of your distractions. Close your door if you don’t want anyone stopping by. Turn off your Facebook and Twitter feed or at least turn off the notifications on your phone. Turn off your ringer. Don’t check your email every time the notification goes off. Set aside ten minutes of every hour to reply to all of your emails and phone calls. Keep your phone calls brief and focused on the matter of the call.
5. Take Breaks.
There is limit to how long anybody can focus deeply on a task. No matter how high the work is piled on your desk you need to take a quick break to refocus your thoughts and stay productive or you will find that tasks are taking twice as long as they should to finish. It could be something as simple as standing up from your chair once an hour and doing a few quick stretches but a break is mandatory. Go grab a coffee or water, go for a quick walk, or take the long route to the washroom. You will find that when you return to your work you are much more productive and able to focus on the task at hand.
6. Do Your Routine Tasks in Batches
If your demanding day includes many routine tasks try to batch them together. Set aside an hour of the day to reply to all of those emails that you haven’t got to yet. Try returning phone calls between 12 pm and 1pm when you know most people are at lunch. Batching together similar tasks allows you to save the time lost focusing on the small things and focus on what you really need to accomplish that day.
7. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and there are numerous studies to support that fact. You will focus better on your work, eat less junk food throughout the day, and maintain a healthy weight.
Staying healthy allows you accomplish your tasks to the best of your ability and ensures a successful production!
We are not making it up. You can read this Ph.D study on breakfast
8. Get Some Exercise
Exercise gives you more energy! It is also good for your health so try to get some exercise every day. You don’t need to spend hours working out to get the benefit of this. Go for a walk around the set or do some isometrics at your desk. Do something that will increase your heart rate and get your blood racing. Not only is this great for you general well being it will also help you organize your thoughts and think more clearly.
If you are like a lot people you hate to ask for help. Often it seems like more work to explain tasks to someone else than to just do the task yourself. But this is an important part of achieving greater productivity. Assess your to-do list carefully. What tasks on your list could be done by someone else so that you can focus on tasks that can only be done by you? Take a good look at those on your team. Who else could accomplish the simpler tasks? An important part of productivity is taking on only those things that only you can accomplish and creating opportunity for somebody else to contribute by doing those other tasks.
10. Learn How to Say No!
How often do you find yourself saying yes to things that you really don’t want to do? Don’t be afraid to say no if you are simply too busy or not interested in doing what has been asked. Carefully consider your priorities before saying yes to things and taking on more than you can handle. If you are already slammed with responsibilities people will understand that you can’t make it to that last minute dinner or organize the going away party for the boss. Practice saying no in your spare time; be polite but firm. You don’t need to come up with a long winded explanation either. No pretty much speaks for itself and is a complete sentence!
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