I am big on “to do” lists. Since having kids and entering my 30’s, my brain is a pile of mush. I mean, I forget everything! I don’t mean to, it just happens. I need to write things down. In a quest to become more productive and actually spend time on tasks that will eventually see a return for my business, I set out to write a daily schedule.I’ll share with you a few things that I have discovered along the way that have helped me to stay on task and be more productive as a work at home mom.
Write Out a Schedule
This one seems obvious but actually writing out the tasks that you need to get accomplished helps you to organize what needs to get done vs what is actually getting accomplished.
I like to organize my schedule one week at a time and then further break that down into specifically what I need to do each day.
For example: One week I might have a newborn session to shoot and edit, a couple blog posts to write, blogs to submit to, website to update, Facebook posts to put up, phone calls to return, emails to read etc. This list goes on! When I look at my week as a whole, I find it much easier to break it down into daily tasks.
If you just wing it (which I have done for years) you’ll feel like you are always working, always checking the notifications on your phone, always on your email and never accomplishing any of the big things on your list.
Know Your Most Productive Times
I recently read somewhere that successful people organize their days according to minutes instead of hours. This makes so much sense to me! An hour is a large chunk of time. It is easy to get distracted and off track when sitting down to work for an hour but if you organize your “to do” list according to smaller increments you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
For example, I know that I typically have three different times of the day that I can sit down at my computer and try to devote time to my business:
- First thing in the morning after the big kids go to school and before the little kids get up for the day (I am blessed with little ones who like to sleep in a lounge around all morning) I usually can squeeze a good hour of work time.
- After lunch when the baby goes for a nap and before the big kids get home from school is also a good time for me to get some work done. I have a pre-schooler at home who does not nap so I have implemented a quiet time during this hour!
- After the kids go to bed at night. My kids stay up late…it is usually after 9 p.m. before I get a chance to sit down by myself. Since I am a night hawk, this time works for me! Unless I am trying to meet a deadline, I usually save this time for editing personal images because I like to watch T.V. and have some down time after the kids are in bed.
Turn Off Your Notifications
This one was HUGE for me! I removed Facebook off my phone’s home screen. It’s still on there but I have to actually go searching for it in among my apps in order to access it. I never realized how much time I was wasting while I was just “checking” FB. What’s the point in checking every few minutes? It’s just a time suck and for me, it makes me burn out faster. I don’t want to be attached to my phone and the computer all day. The more time I spend on the doing mindless tasks, the more “blah” I feel about actually being online to be productive.
Instagram is another big time suck for me. I have yet to remove that one but it is coming! I’ll check in periodically but not all throughout the day. Post what you need to and leave it for a while. Set a specific time for browsing tags and other people you follow. That is important too but I don’t suggest using the most productive times in you day for those things.
For the longest time, I had all of my notes and ideas in 3 coil notebooks. I couldn’t find anything because it was all just smushed together. I had to come up with a plan for how to run my business. I now have a binder that contains the step-by-step information that I need to run my business smoothly.
Creating these systems that are tailored specifically for my business has been paramount in staying productive and organized. I am not going to lie; these took a long time to put together…but totally worth it! I have a FAQ page to send out to potential clients who are inquiring about a session, business policies, several email templates since a lot of the emails that I need to respond to are all pretty similar. I also made a Client Workflow Chart to help with making sure that my clients are taken care of at every stage of the game; this one is particularly helpful for me because I tend to forget things easily and this helps me to remember to send that follow up email, thank you card, order prints, schedule a meeting etc. It basically just keeps me in line and able to take multiple clients through the process without compromising on customer service.
Take a Break!
If all else fails, just set what ever you are working on aside for a few minutes and get outside to play for a while! Recharging your batteries and taking some well deserved family time can do wonders for your soul! You’ll get a break from the pressures of your work load, the kids will get your attention so they’ll be more likely to play solo while you get some work done later and you’ll all feel a little more balanced. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in it all that we forget to just have fun!
So, there you have it! Super simple tips to become a more productive photographer. I am always looking for more ways to be able to be more productive while working at home with little ones running around all day, so feel free to leave your tips and tricks that you use to be become more productive in the comments!