How do you manage difficult clients? What should you spend less time doing? Did you know hiring this type of person to do a particular task can drastically improve your business? With dozens of tips for workflow, productivity and life, we compiled our best productivity hacks--both monumental and miniscule--that add up to lots of reclaimed time and energy.
We know that good habits, best practices and smart shortcuts free up brain space in and out of the studio, so you can concentrate on the rewarding things in life, from selling the poses to smelling the roses.
1. Write down all the tasks you need to accomplish on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly level.
No matter how small the task or goal, if you don’t write it down it’s clogging up your thought processes because your brain is working to remember it. Everything from “Call John Smith at 3 pm today” to big-picture items like “Take a vacation this summer” should be written down in an organized calendar. We’re obviously partial to The Big Picture for keeping your tasks close at hand.
2. Block off set times when you are the most productive or creative.
Shut down everything else during this time, including e-mail, social media, or any other distractions that keep you from performing at your best. Use this time as a set appointment and treat it as you would if you were meeting with a client. For instance, you have a “productivity” meeting from 10am-12pm every day and during this time work on nothing else but what you MUST get done. Schedule this time on your calendar and commit to it!
3. Use email signatures to respond quickly (and automatically) to frequently asked questions.
Cut and paste your responses into a signature template, then append the template to your reply so you don’t have to type out the same paragraph 5 times a day.
4. Outsource beyond photo editing.
Don’t like to do laundry? Hate cleaning your house? Hire someone else to do it. Say your business is netting you $50 an hour. Is it worth spending your time at mundane, terrible tasks if you can hire someone at your rate to do it for you (and they enjoy doing it)? Take that hour you’d spend on laundry and work on something else for your business, such as having coffee with a local networking contact or making a trip to one of your favorite local boutiques to drop off business cards and marketing materials.
5. Clean house with your friendships (and not just on Facebook!).
Rid yourself of any toxic people who only add negativity to your life. Surround yourself with people who encourage you and are supportive of your life and your business. Take Jim Rohn’s quote “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” to heart and choose your relationships accordingly.
6. Keep a tidy office.
Time spent searching for supplies, paperwork, packaging, etc. is time--and money--wasted. If you need to clean your office, put one drawer (or one corner) at a time on your to-do list until your entire space is clean. We find it helpful to have an empty desktop, and only pull out the file/documents/project you are currently working on (and put it away as soon as you move onto your next task).
7. Establish a rock-solid set of studio policies and make sure you discuss them with each client.
Almost all client and business miscommunications can easily be avoided with the simple preliminary measure of instituting strong policies. With a little foresight, you can ensure business success before you even interact with a client.
8. As soon as you download image files to your computer, organize them!
Don’t put them on your desktop (see tip #2). File them immediately in the appropriate folder, and rename them. For renaming, we like to use the name of the client_month/year, like “smith_0114_001 .” Lightroom or Bridge makes this process easy.
9. Don't leave your email or social media open in the background while you're working on the computer.
Check your e-mail 2-3 times a day at specific times (unless you’re waiting for something super important). STAY OFF Facebook. Unless you’re specifically interacting with clients, check Facebook 2-3 times a day so that you don’t get sucked into watching 20 videos of goats eating Doritos. To turn it all off, disable your internet access with Freedom, a browser blocking app that locks you out for up to 8 hours at a time. Be gone, piano playing cats!
10. Learn to say no.
Lots of people preach it, but very few actually practice it. Instead of immediately saying “Sure! I’d love to” when someone asks you to commit your time to a project or cause, make your automatic reaction a kind but firm “Can I think about it and get back to you? I’m pretty scheduled right now.” Then give yourself permission to say “thanks for thinking of me, but I can’t commit to something else at the moment.” Which is a really nice way of saying no.