Entrepreneurship isn’t about being busy. It isn’t about more money, more connections or more opportunities. Entrepreneurship is about freedom, flexibility and control. It’s about doing what you love and making a living doing it. It’s about designing the lifestyle you want and creating a business that fits into it. Yet, many photographers do the opposite. A photographer friend of mine once joked that he “left his 9–5 for a 9–9”.
Many photographers structure their life around their business. They put their clients first; sometimes even before their own family. Many photographers are a slave to their business and can’t let go, can’t turn it off and can’t unplug. If this sounds like you, then let’s redefine your relationship with time. Let’s redefine how and where you chose to invest your attention. Let’s redefine your priorities. Let’s redefine your business. Let’s redefine busy.
Let’s talk about the Lie of Busy. Why do we use busy as an excuse? Why do we glorify it and wear it as a badge of honour? Why do we use busy as a means of justification or comparison? Why do we use it as a way of signifying our importance or worth?
Look - there’s no question, I’ll bet you are busy, as in you have lots to do. I’m not arguing that at all, but what I’m suggesting is that you need to think differently about what “busy” means, and how it manifests itself in your life. Ultimately, I’m suggesting that you can run a successful photography business and not be constantly overwhelmed, overworked and burnt out. I believe that when most people say that they’re busy, it really means that they don’t have control and don’t take ownership of their own time. They are a slave to the conditions that they’ve created.
Let’s redefine busy and take a look at the 5 lies we all tell ourselves about how busy affects our daily life.
Lie #1: The Lie of Temporary
The lie of temporary is when you tell yourself that your busyness is only temporary. You say “I’ll just be busy until I finish this” or “I’ll stop being busy once I’ve achieved that”, but it’s a never-ending cycle.
Busy is a habit, and if you keep telling yourself it’s ok to be busy, then you’ll never get yourself out of it. Replace the lie of temporary with the truth of pace.
Slow down, take things one step at a time and pace yourself. Remember that business (and life) is about the journey, not necessarily the destination. Things won’t “slow down one day” unless you make them.
Lie #2: The Lie of Time
Parkinson’s Law states that “tasks will expand to the time that you allow them to”. If you give yourself 2 hours to get something done, then you’ll find a way to get it done in 2 hours. But if you give yourself 10 hours to get that same task done, you will often take the full 10 hours to get it done.
Let me give you a relevant example - think about the last time you went on vacation. I’ll bet that you probably got more done the day before you left than you did the entire week before it. Am I right? That’s Parkinson’s Law at play.
Often you are “busy” because you have no boundaries or deadlines and are giving yourself too much time to get things done. Replace the lie of time with the truth of deadlines. Understand that you can get more done in less time by simply giving yourself less time. Set deadlines for tasks, work within a defined container for projects and establish hard start and end times.
Lie #3: The Lie of Work
Often times you are “busy” working on things that don’t need to get done. You feel busy because you are moving, but you aren’t moving in any direction. Remember - a rocking horse moves, but never actually goes anywhere. Don’t mistake motion for progress. You need to ask yourself - is the task you’re working on really something that needs to get done, or are you just doing busy work? It may feel important in the moment, but is it actually a priority?
Replace the lie of work with the truth of priorities.
Prioritize what you work on. When you are intentional about the work you’re doing, you can get much more done, and you won’t find yourself in a black hole, wasting time.
Lie #4: The Lie of Importance
Have you ever found yourself reading an email on your iPhone while you’re sitting down for dinner with your family? How about sitting on the couch with your laptop, checking your Facebook page while watching TV with your kids? Have you ever been out with a friend for coffee and pulled out your iPhone to see who just tagged you on Twitter?
When you do this, you rationalize (read: rational-lies). You say, “I am waiting on this one email” or “I can’t miss this update”, and you’re prioritizing these items over whatever else you’re doing. You go for the “quick fix” of email or Facebook or something else, and sacrifice truly being in the moment.
Replace the lie of importance with the truth of assigned importance.
When you intentionally prioritize whatever it is you’re doing (or could be doing), you can be more aware of what you’re giving attention to. When you give a high level of importance to your family and to “being in the moment”, it trumps the importance of checking our email or Facebook page.
Lie #5: The Lie of Multitasking
Multi tasking means doing two (or more) things at once, but that’s actually impossible for us to do as humans. When you think you’re multitasking, what you’re actually doing is rapidly switching between two (or more) things in smaller concentrated bursts. Which means you’re doing a bunch of things half-assed.
Let’s pretend you have two empty buckets, each sitting on the floor, 1 foot apart. You’d like to fill each of the buckets with water, but you only have one hose. So you turn on the hose and keep it running. First, you point the hose at the first bucket and put a splash of water in it. Then, you switch to the second bucket and put a splash in that one, too. Then you go back to the first one. You keep switching back and forth between the two buckets, each time only putting a splash in each of them, until they’re both eventually full.
Obviously you wouldn’t do this. It doesn’t make sense. Not only will it take you much longer to fill up the buckets, but you’ll also have wasted a lot of water every time you switched from one bucket to the next. This is how you need to look at your time.
Replace the lie of multitasking with the truth of focus.
If you’re like most photographers, you probably switch your focus, time and attention around between many different tasks throughout the day. But when you switch your attention (water hose) between different tasks and projects (buckets), you are not effective, you waste time (water) and it takes you much longer.
Your solution to the “busy” problem:
In a recent study, it was discovered that most people spend just under 50% of their time thinking about something other than what they’re currently doing. It’s also been proven that over 40% of our actions are subconscious. All this to say simple that you are on auto-pilot for a good part of your day.
If you’re still reading this, then you acknowledge that “busy” is an epidemic. It is a very serious problem. In acknowledging this, though, you are also becoming aware of the problem which is the first step towards the solution.
You’re on your way. Become aware of these habits; shine the spotlight on the lie of busy. Let’s stop the epidemic. Let’s gain control. Let’s take ownership. Let’s redefine busy. Together.
Sprout Studio is launching their Take Back Your 80 Program program in a month. This is a completely free online course designed to help you find balance and ultimately get more done in less time.
Visit www.SproutingPhotographer.com/80–20 to sign up for free today, and start to redefine busy!
Bryan Caporicci is an award winning wedding and portrait photographer based out of Fonthill, Canada. He is the CEO and Founder of Sprout Studio, the photography industry's first all-in-one system combining Studio Management software with Online Galleries, Album Proofing and the revolutionary new Sales Galleries. He is also the founder of Sprouting Photographer, a website and podcast dedicated to actionable "how-to" education for photographers. In 2014, he was awarded his Masters of Photographic Arts (MPA) designation by the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC).
When I was in college, I had a friend who was a professional photographer. The first time I went to her home, I walked in to find stunning photographs of her children on the walls.
There was a huge canvas in their living room and a creative photo display in the main hallway. I remember being so moved by the beauty of those images, thinking to myself, “I want to create images like this!” I bought myself a DSLR as a graduation present, learned photography from online courses and started my photography business about a year later.