Whether you are a full-time or part-time photographer, chances are there’s room to be more productive and consistent in your photography business.
But while we all may aspire to have a productive day every single day, let’s face it, it’s easier said than done. So, how can you boost your productivity?
Well, I believe it comes down to three things;
- forming positive habits,
- and, being committed to doing the work.
The importance of positive habits and consistency
New Year’s resolutions and good intentions are one thing, but motivation will only get you so far. It’s only when you make your intentions habitual that significant progress is made.
That’s because if you don’t establish positive habits, that become non-negotiable, it’s easy to lose momentum.
Habits are what keep you going. Habits ensure consistent action. They commit you to take small steps toward your goals; to always making progress and keeping focussed.
Without habits, it’s easy to find excuses and reasons to not do that thing you planned (whether it be exercise, blogging, attending networking events). And, as we all know, once you’ve not done something once, then it’s far easier to not do it a second time and a third time….until you end up never doing it!
Planning for success
Being intentional about how you will spend your day is also a great way to be more productive. Planning my schedule, even breaking it down into tasks that I’ll complete hour by hour, is what’s working for me.
I’ve tried a number of different tools to help with planning over the years. But right now, I’m loving my new Best Self Journal. It requires me to set a goal for the week, and then three targets for each day. The planning for the day is done the evening before, so no time is lost each morning trying to figure out what to do first.
There are no two ways about it. Having a planned task list ensures that I’m really productive during my working day, and ticking the tasks off as I complete them makes me feel accomplished.
No, I don’t always achieve everything I set out to do, but I try! And when I do complete something, that short hit of dopamine is real! It’s a sign that I’m moving forward and making progress, and slowly but surely getting closer to achieving my goals.
A commitment to consistent action
Being committed is the final key to success. Following through and actually doing the work is essential if you want to be as productive as possible.
Which means, closing down Facebook, avoiding the laundry basket and ignoring that mountain of washing up that stacked in the sink, and actually just getting on with it!
If you’re the only person in your business, then no-one else is going to get the work done for you. Procrastination, F.O.M.O. (the fear of missing out) and shiny-object syndrome are all destroyers of productivity. To be effective in your working day, you’ll need to be focused and committed to the work you need to do.
Eight positive habits to boost your productivity
With all this in mind, here are some positive habits that I’m incorporating into my work and personal life this year. Perhaps some of these may resonate with you and would be beneficial for you to adopt too?
Habit 1 – Plan for the day
Every evening I sit down for ten minutes of quiet time to plan out what are the urgent priorities for the coming day, being careful not to overschedule.
My Best Self Journal recommends setting three daily targets. While this may not seem much, it’s proven to be the case that it’s hard to achieve even these sometimes. Each tasks takes approximately 1-2 hours to complete (such as writing a blog), so any more would be too much for me since I work 5 hours each day.
Just that act of planning in advance means that I have a game-plan for the day ahead and there’s no need to lose vital minutes every morning as I sit down to my desk to consider what needs to be done. I have my to-do list and I can begin work straight away.
For similar reasons, I’m a big fan of planning my marketing activities and my clients’ marketing calendars.
A content plan is a great way to ensure you aren’t scrambling around trying to think of content ideas at the last minute for your social media or blog. With a considered marketing and content plan in place in advance, you’ll have more time to focus on other aspects of your business and be more productive as a result.
Related reading: The daily habit that will help you secure more photography clients
Habit 2 – Themed days and batching
Taking this one step further, having days allocated for specific tasks and batch-creating content, such as blogs, is a great way to get more down in less time.
When I’m planning out my week, I allocate specific days to client work and have set days in the calendar for each client that I work with. I also allocate a set day to be the C.E.O. of my own business – to focus on my marketing, content and planning.
This approach allows me to fully focus on the client or the task at hand and avoids flitting from one thing to the next. It’s a definite time saver and means I get so much more done.
Habit 3 – Write a daily journal
When I first met my husband, I laughed at the fact that he kept a daily journal. But, the joke’s on me now as I soon adopted this practice into my own life, and now am a journaling convert!
I’ve found that spending just ten minutes each evening to reflect on the day has really made a difference to my life and my work.
I write down what went well, what didn’t go so well, how I felt that day and what I want to see happen tomorrow. It’s simple but really valuable stuff for looking back on. Just the very act of committing my thoughts to paper is also really therapeutic.
This daily journaling habit has also become invaluable in my business review process.
Every month (as I outlined in this article about why and how to conduct an annual review of your photography business), I review my daily journal to identify the positives, negatives and the lessons learned. Then, I combine these thoughts with other, numerical data more focussed on business performance. This gives me a fuller picture of how the month padded out overall.
Journalling every day may seem a lot of work, but it really isn’t. It’s totally worth the time. It’s helping me to be more mindful in my life and business which is really helping in terms of productivity and performance.
Habit 4 – Commit to set office hours
My working hours are pretty much set for me because during the week my three children are at school. But, in the past, I’ve been terrible at letting work take over my personal time.
Because I’ve only been able to work between 9.30-2.30pm, I’ve told myself that I need to top up the hours by working in the evenings. But working late and never switching off hasn’t actually done me any favours.
I’d been going to bed later and then finding it harder to sleep at night because my mind was busy whirring away with ideas. And because I was working so much, I’ve not been able to use that evening time to connect with friends, exercise or relax. All things that I really should have been doing.
If you work from home, perhaps you’re guilty of this too?
But this year I’m determined to switch off more and stick to set working hours. Being intentional with my time rather than continuing with the bad habit of working late into the night is, I’m sure, going to lead to better sleep and make me more focussed and productive as a result.
Habit 5 – Build a network and connect with others regularly
This point touches on the previous one, in that in the past I have been guilty of working too much and letting it overtake my life. But having a life outside of work is really crucial.
Working from home alone is great for so many reasons, as is online networking. But, it’s nothing on face-to-face interaction.
Realising this early on in my business, I co-founded a networking group for other PR consultants four years ago and this has been a great way to connect with other like-minded people. As has attending other in-person networking events.
Are you part of any industry or local groups and are they as valuable to you?
Habit 6 – Keep an eye on the numbers
For a while, I’ve been committing to a monthly financial review.
On that day, I consolidate receipts and tally up expenses (I’m determined to get organised and not be submitting my tax return in January next year!). I identify whether I’m hitting my financial goals. I also look at how many clients I am working with and how much revenue I have generated.
I also use this day to review the numbers in my business relating to my marketing. I look at my monthly web traffic, social media engagement, the size of my email list. And I review and adjust my content plan if necessary, and create and schedule content for the coming weeks.
While tracking the numbers isn’t the be-all and end-all, I believe it’s important to keep an eye on how things are going. It’s a chance to reflect on and celebrate wins, as well identify how I could improve performance in the future.
I’ve found that setting aside this non-negotiable day each month is crucial to getting this work done, and to having more awareness of how my business is performing against the goals that I’ve set myself.
Related reading: Why and how to set goals for your photography business
Do you know the important numbers in your business?
Habit 7 – Let go of perfection
Striving for perfection is sure to curb your productivity. I’m often guilty of wanting to make everything I create perfect, but this leads to procrastination. I know this is also a common struggle for photographers.
In the end, it’s better to hit publish on that blog post, launch that new service or do that Facebook Live than not do it at all.
Perfectionism can literally kill your productivity so a positive habit to incorporate into your life if you can, is to let go a little more. Remember, perfection is subjective anyway!
Habit 8 – Look after yourself
I’ve been rubbish at this recently! But I know that being in good physical and mental shape will make such a difference to my productivity and performance.
This year, I’m determined to exercise more (there are so many benefits to exercise it’s ridiculous I haven’t prioritised this in the past). I’ve recognised that if I am not feeling good then that will have a huge impact on how I approach things in my life and business.
And, I’ve gone all-in on mindfulness! I’ve subscribed to several wellbeing podcasts recently and am loving my monthly subscription to Happiful magazine which inspires me to take better care of my mind and body.
Thanks, as always, for reading! I really hope that you may find this useful and perhaps recognise the need to add some of these positive habits into your own life?
Let me know in the comments below what resonated with you the most and what other things you do habitually to boost your productivity.