Chapter 6: How To Get Things Done
While building your wedding photography business there are hundreds of things just waiting in line to sidetrack you (In my life that mostly includes kids and animals) but I will dare to say that 90% of it is self-created and self-inflicted. And if you can change your mindset and overcome those things you will be able to work in an entirely new more focused way, which will release so much time for both your personal enjoyment and for actually GROWING your business and your ideas instead of just putting out fires and reacting to everything life throws your way.
In my experience these are some of the most common ways we trip ourselves up and tasks don't get done:
I have no idea where to start!
I am afraid to fail!
What will other people think of me!
I am too tired and drained to do anything new or different!
I don't have the right... (insert whatever fits: gear, website, software, training, outfit, etc) to do this the way I want it to look/do/be!
I just don't like doing this!
I don't have time!
I can't afford this!
I honestly believe that the only one of the above that has any true merit is the last one. If you are truly struggling to get by, to get food on the table, then spending actual money is probably not the answer. But for most of us I will venture a guess that you - like me - spend a certain amount of money each month on things you don't really think about, and that you don't actually NEED, but just want. So when it comes down to it, for most of us, even money is a matter of priorities.
So setting that aside, all of the above say one of two things:
I am overwhelmed
I am afraid
Which brings us to one of my most favourite quotes (and a quite simple one at that which I think is good, because it makes it easier to remember)
“Done is better than good.” - Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
For the first 7 years of my business I had a simple Gmail account. Even though I KNEW it was "hurting" my business, making me look less professional, changing it stood silently on my to-do list for almost 2 whole years before I finally found the time and energy to change it into a myname email address. Because I simply could not pull myself together to google/figure out how to do it. I hate tech stuff. It was yet ANOTHER new thing I had to teach myself. + why should I spend money on a pro account when my current one was free.
If at all possible see if you can organise your week, so that each day is dedicated to a specific area of your business. So if Saturday is usually wedding day and perhaps in the off season, family portraits, then maybe sunday is your offline/family/self care day. Monday and Tuesday can be editing days, Wednesday can be content creation days for your blog, social media posts scheduling, and Thursday can be creative day where you do personal shoots, work on the business instead of in it, meaning dreaming and planning and contemplating. Friday should (if you have a big wedding the next day) be a day of rest, motivation, hydration, eating good nourishing food, relaxing and recharging, go to bed early, prep your gear, check that you have all adresses and phone numbers etc, go over the timetable for the day etc.
Of course there must be room for flexibility as you may not have a shoot in the schedule for every saturday all year round, or you may have a portrait shoot or elopement booked for one or two weekdays etc, but I have found it extremely helpful to batch my work like that. I used to be an EXPERT multitasker, but in reality I often didn't get as much done as I could have because it takes time to get back into the flow of things.
The six steps I take to get back on top when I start to feel overwhelmed:
Write EVERYTHING down ( I am a pen and paper kind of girl, but a program like Evernote or similar on the computer works just as well, the point is to get things OUT of the swirl in your head). You can keep both an overall task/to-do list and also write yourself bite sized posts its every night so you know exactly what to do the next day when you get up.
MOVE!! If not daily then at least a few times a week. I cannot stress this enough. A walk outdoors. Going for a run or working out brings you out of your head and back into your body and releases positive hormones that helps you think of yourself and the tasks ahead in a more positive can-do light. The mental reward system that is set in motion when you COMPLETE/DO something, even if it's not work related, is powerful.
Consider outsourcing. We covered this in the previous chapter.
Set up systems and routines so you don't have to create everything from scratch every single time. That goes for everything from emails, to creating blogposts, and client service workflow. This was crucial to the success of my business, and in this course's Modules and in the Bonus section next week I have given you all the tools you need to do that. Creating systems and templates TRANSFORMED the way I work.
Declutter! This can be a great tool for your home overall, but is especially important when it comes to your office/workspace, your desk, and even your computer/file/folders, email inbox, texts and images on the smart phone etc. Whenever things are just "floating" around, it usually means that you have no place for that thing. I love to surround myself with beauty, it inspires me, and visual mess stresses me a lot. It took me a few years, but now I LOVE to give things away/throw things out. I love cleared easy to clean surfaces, I love that everything has its place, and it helps me start the tasks of the day with a fresh mindset when I don't have to immediately deal with all the "leftovers" from the previous day's (or months') work.
If you are on the edge of real stress from feeling overwhelmed for too long. STEP AWAY from the business. This may feel extreme and hugely uncomfortable because there is SO much that needs to get done, that you feel like you must stay in your seat. But I promise you, taking a whole day doing everything not-business or client related, will mean that you can return to your work later with three times the focus and efficiency.