Have you ever had days when 5 o’clock rolls around and you look around and think “what did I accomplish today?” And all you can seem to account for is beating a new level of candy crush, answering twenty emails and editing half a portrait session, even though you know you were sitting at your desk for eight full hours.
Well, we’ve been there too… but the good news is that, with a little bit of planning and a moderate amount of effort, you can create better habits right now. You’ll be crushing your to do list every day and we promise that’s way more fun than crushing candy anyway.
The secret to real productivity is creating a schedule and sticking to it. But don’t worry, schedules aren’t just for Type A’s, they work really well for us creatives too. And just in case planning and scheduling aren’t your strong point, we’ve got a few tips and tricks to help you get yours up and running in no time!
1-Make a list of your tasks. This list is different than your to do list. This list should contain all the tasks you need to accomplish on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. That might include culling, editing, blogging, social media business posting, email newsletter and updates to your website among other things. Once you’ve listed out all your responsibilities, categorize into daily, weekly and monthly tasks. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed just looking at the list, don’t worry… that’s proof that a schedule will help you!
2- Plan ahead. Schedules work best when you make them ahead of time. If you want to start small, start planning your next day’s work at the end of each work day. Then you can build up to planning a week ahead and then a month ahead. But don’t forget, making a schedule doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible. Flexibility is one of the huge benefits of working for yourself, so keep that in mind when you’re creating and working your schedule!
3- Prioritize. It seems like common sense that we should complete high priority tasks before low priority tasks. But procrastination is a huge hurdle and updating galleries on your website never looks so appealing as it does when you’re avoiding calling a client to finalize a wedding album before the holiday deadline. But trust us, you’ll be so much more productive (and happier!) when you get the important things checked off your list first. If you’re a visual person, our Studio Workflow Assistant will make prioritizing client work quick and easy.
4- Build in time for email. Email is an incredible communication tool… except that every time you respond to an email, that person typically responds back. It feels like a never-ending cycle, like listening to terrible kids’ music on repeat. Make it a point to only tackle your inbox once (or twice) a day during scheduled times and turn off all your notifications… culling your wedding from last weekend will take so much longer if you keep getting interrupted by email!
5- Give yourself a break. Literally, schedule in some break time. We know it can be tempting to eat your lunch at your desk, moving sliders in LightRoom with your right hand while trying to eat a sandwich left-handed, all while trying not to knock over your Diet Coke. If you were working for someone else, you would demand a proper lunch break and it’s just plain good business to give yourself a break too. If it’s feasible, go outside during your lunch break… the sunshine and fresh air will give you a great boost through the rest of your day!
6- Ditch multi-tasking. Studies show that multitasking kills productivity and it actually lowers your IQ. Crazy, right? Seeing a project through to completion is way more rewarding than making progress on four different projects without finishing anything, so do yourself a favor and stick to one thing at a time.
7- Our number one tip? Start small and build from there. Creating new habits doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen. And the first step is simply getting started. Need a little help to get your schedule organized? You’ll love our Big Picture Planner. It’s loaded with planner pages and worksheets to make getting started easy and sticking to the plan even easier!
Perhaps your anxieties are internal? The fear of failing at that which is most dear to you? Or the terror of living with regrets that can never be remedied?