A year ago I thought I might lose my mind. My business had grown exponentially and I didn’t have the tools in place to manage that kind of growth. I was a mom of 3 toddlers, my husband was getting a double masters, and had a house to keep up with, too. I felt as if there wasn’t enough time to get done what I HAD to get done in a day. It felt like I was a pinball constantly bouncing from one task to another but never really getting anything done. So, I would leave each day feeling frustrated because I felt as if my time had been wasted!
After implementing a few lifestyle changes, I was able to not just succesfully run my photography business AND have better work/life balance… I was able to launch 2 MORE education business! It’s like my time was tripled. Want to know what those lifestyle changes were? Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to wake up early! Keep reading for my best productivity tips for photographers!
Remember how I said I felt like I was a pinball. Well that’s because I would go from a session to answer emails to another session to editing for 30 minutes to answering more emails, to posting on social media, to writing a blog, etc. At best, I would end the day with something half done but never really got anything fully done. Which is why this is HANDS-DOWN my FAVORITE productivity tip for photographers!
So, I batched my days. I wrote out all the things I had to get done in a week and then I wrote out all the times I was available to do the things.
The next thing you will do is drag and drop each “thing to do” into it’s own time slot.
While that is all fine and dandy, sometimes life doesn’t work out perfectly. So, every single Sunday afternoon while my kids nap, I plan out my week. I use my favorite *FREE* tool TRELLO! I made a “weekly planning” board.
Then once you click that board I organize it like this:
And I plan out every single hour for each day this week. Because the truth is….
But The cool thing is that whatever I don’t get done this week, I can keep and drag it to a slot for the next week!
How many times a day are we waiting on Lightroom to load or something and we end up picking up our phones. During really busy times, I’ve begun to put my phone on airplane mode and have even put it in a room. Try this for even 48 hrs and I’m certain you’ll be shocked at just how many times you reach for it.
Sometimes, I look back on my days and feel like I was constantly doing stuff, like I wasn’t wasting any time. But one thing that really helped me to see the holes in my workflow was doing a 72 hour time diary. Basically you record how much time you are spending on certain activities and you’ll be able to see where you’re wasting time and what is influencing your productivity. My favorite tool for this is TIME CAMP!
If you can delegate something, DO IT. Maybe your husband has the time in the evenings to do CFO stuff? Maybe you can pay a local college kid to clean your home. Can you outsource your editing (read more on that HERE)? Find an intern to come in twice a week and help you with emails or client upkeep?
The truth is, if you don’t have the money to pay someone else to do something (cleaning your house, watching your kids, writing your posts, answer your emails, etc. Then YOU will have to do it. Which means you will have to give up either some sleep, relationships, or health (diet & exercise). However, it SHOULD only be for a season, this is not a sustainable way to live your life. But, there are certain seasons of life where we have extra things added to our plate and it is helpful to know that it isn’t forever.
The truth is, we all have something that’s wasting our time. Ask yourself, is this task giving me more clients? Is it contributing to my income? Is it contributing to my mental health or my family’s health? So… then what are you waiting for? DITCH IT.
If you’re a workaholic like me and don’t like this tip… I’m not sorry about it! 🙂 The truth is, burn-out is real and if you aren’t careful, that’s where you will end up! No one benefits from a creatively depleted photographer/spouse/parent/friend. Establish maintenance days where you force yourself to do NOTHING for your business. Those are the days you will spend time with family and friends, do laundry, errands, cleaning, etc. Those are the days you will write for fun, binge watch netflix shows, or do whatever it is that helps your brain to stay out of work mode.
Everyone needs one of these, I call it my, “When I have time” List. I keep it on trello and any time I’m tempted to get distracted by a task that needs done and not stick to my outlined schedule, I add it to this list. And then, during those moments when I know I have things to do but can’t think of WHAT to do… I look at that list. Some of the things on this list are:
If you don’t already have email templates, DO IT NOW. I know it’s a pain to set up. But once it’s there, you are so thankful you have them.
Or, if you want to save even MORE time you can invest in a program like Honeybook! This Client Management system doesn’t just keep track of your various projects and inquiries. It also allows sending brochures, email responses, contracts, session reminder emails, and preparatory emails to be completely AUTOMATED!
Dwight Eisenhower used this strategy for organizing tasks and deciding on where to take action first. Using this decision matrix below, you will separate your actions based on four possibilities:
My top productivity tip for photographers has to do with the self-doubt and perfectionism! Which, in my opinion, keep more photographers from being productive than anything else.
But sometimes done is better than perfect! We HAVE TO start seeing “perfection” for the lie that it is. It’s a figment of your imagination that can NEVER be a reality. Do your best, move on, and acknowledge that DONE is better than PERFECT. Know that YOU are your worst critic. Want some more help overcoming your self-doubt and perfectionism? Download my free guide HERE.
Time Management & Productivity is a daily struggle for photographers and entrepreneurs everywhere. But, that shouldn’t worry you! As someone who enjoys spontaneity and NOT having every minute of my day scheduled, know this… spontaneity matters, but so does your stress-level. Having a plan for MOST of your days will keep you happy and healthy. Your life will be more effective and more influential on those around you. You will actually gain MORE time to do things you love and better serve the clients you currently have.
Need some support? Follow me on Instagram and send a DM with where you are in your journey, I would love to walk with you!