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Time management tips for photographers

The Time Management Tips post for photographers first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Darina Kopcok.

Photographers nowadays have to wear a lot of hats. Not only do you have to create and edit your images, but you also need to spend time on social media, bring customers to the market, and keep up with all the daily administrative tasks of running a business. It is enough to give even the most organized person a headache. To top it off, time management can be something that creative people often have trouble with.

As a creative person who was proud of my productivity until I started my own business, it took me a lot of trial and error to figure out how to get the most out of my day without a lot of stress and overwhelming.

If you are tired of feeling busy but not productive, here are some useful tips.

Choose three priorities for your day

Most people have no idea how long a certain task will cost them. They overload their agendas with to-do ' s and then feel insufficient or frustrated if they don't check everything at the end of the day.

Of course this tip depends on what you have to do. Maybe you have a shoot day or you have to edit all day long, and therefore you will focus on one task. However, you will probably also have some small things that you must complete in a day, such as sending an invoice and returning a few emails or phone calls.

It is about focusing on three priorities a day and tackling them in order of importance.

This tip is also known as The rule of the three from the book Getting Results the Agile Way, and it is meant to prevent you from running task-to-task without a clearly defined outcome.

In the Rule-of-Three you define three tasks that you have to do on a day, three tasks for your week and also three tasks for your month and your year.

Start defining the three things you want to focus on every day and make sure you check in on yourself to stay on track. Pay attention to how long it takes you and pay attention to any patterns that arise when working on certain tasks. That gives you more information to refine your time management strategies.

Time management for photographers - Darina Kopcok-DPS

Follow your time

When you start trying out different time management techniques, you must keep track of your time.

During the first year and a half of running my photography business, I recorded everything I did in a small notebook in one day, as well as how long it took me.

If this sounds like a super time-consuming and anal thing to do, it really isn't. It really takes a second to check your watch and make a note that consists of two or three words describing your task.

Even better, you can use a time registration app such as Hours Tracker.

The information you receive when tracking your time is gold.

If you notice that you spend a lot of time on certain tasks that are not completely necessary, you can take steps to shorten or completely cut the time you spend on them.

For example, if you think that you only surf the Internet for half an hour a day, you will find that you are constantly in the rabbit hole and that it is closer to two hours.

Use an online calendar to schedule time blocks

One of the most effective ways to increase your productivity is by working in time blocks and classifying them in an online calendar like Google.

Organizing your schedule instead of working a task list helps to apply discipline and order to your tasks.

You spend specific time windows on your tasks, making them a priority and the only focus during that time. It helps to minimize distractions and the mental burden of switching tasks.

Use an online agenda to schedule your tasks as non-negotiable events. If you did things the same way – write to-do lists or keep a paper diary – you could use an online calendar much more effectively.

An online agenda can help you plan meetings and send announcements to invitees. You can create recurring appointments in your online calendar, set reminders and you can access the calendar from multiple devices.

Make sure you schedule breaks in your calendar. It is a very bad idea to sit in front of your computer screen all day without having to get up regularly to stretch, eat a good meal or just take a few minutes for some R&R.

Time management for photographers - Darina Kopcok-DPS

Use a CRM system

There are so many apps and productivity tools to help people better manage their time, projects and life. Maybe you already use a few.

However, if you are not already using a CRM (Client Relationship Management) system, you may miss out on a hugely useful tool that can make different apps unavailable for different purposes.

A CRM system is a tool for managing customers and developing relationships with which you can track your customers and projects. For example, you can record the dates that you last communicated with a customer and set a reminder for follow-up.

However, most CRM ' s offer so much more, including accounting tools and contract writing options.

I use and recommend Dubsado, a CRM system for creatives. You can create brand contracts that you can send for electronic signatures, send an email directly from the user interface, and track all your prospects and customers in a visually appealing and easy-to-navigate system. It can even be integrated with your Google calendar.

If you use contract signature software such as Hello Sign or Adobe, you can get the same function in Dubsado with all other benefits for a similar price tag.

Other options are Nutshell and Insightly.

Time management for photographers - Darina Kopcok-DPS

Nix Multi-Tasking

The research is in: multi-tasking is much overrated.

Multi-tasking is usually assessed positively, but the latest research shows that it is harmful to your productivity and quality of work.

High-quality work depends on how much time you spend on a task and the intensity of your focus. If you can increase your focus, you can get more done in less time.

Performing multiple tasks simultaneously overloads the brain. When you work on different things in one go, you switch from mental functions, which is ultimately counterproductive.

According to Gloria Mark, researcher and author of Multi-Tasking in the digital age, the average knowledge worker changes tasks every three minutes. Once distracted, it can take almost half an hour to resume the original task. That was wasted 30 minutes because you checked your email and responded to a message.

No wonder the average employee works three hours on a normal eight-hour working day – even if they don't constantly look at Instagram or Facebook.

Store your devices

As you can see, one of the greatest ways to ruin your productivity is by constantly checking your email and social media throughout the day. Those seconds or minutes can mean a huge waste of time and focus on the tasks you must do.

Put your phone away, close the browser window with your open inbox and concentrate on the task ahead.

Decide a few times a day when you check and reply to emails and Instagram messages and stick to them.

When I combined this with blocking my time, I was surprised at the result. I have literally accomplished it three times more in a day then when I just moved from task to task, I responded to every text and email as I received it.

Time management for photographers - Darina Kopcok-DPS

Try the Pomodoro method

The Pomodoro technology is a hugely popular time management tool designed to keep you as productive as possible.

In this method of time management, you choose a task that you want to perform and you set a timer for 25 minutes to work in a focused and continuous manner.

You can do this for 25 minutes, right?

When the alarm clock rings, take a short break that is not related to work, such as stretching or a snack.

If you have done four "pomodoros", you can take a longer break, such as 20 or 30 minutes. Your brain will take this time to process new information.

Set a day apart for groceries and admin

This is another productivity hack that works wonders for some people. Set aside one day in the week on which you attend all your personal messages or company administration or a combination of both.

There may be things that you do weekly, such as meal preparation or laundry, that can all be banned into one day, so you can focus on business tasks for the rest of the week.

You may want to set aside one day of the week when planning all your meetings or medical appointments. You can also do all your admin, such as billing, accounting or even planning your social media.

To sum up

There are many techniques and tools for time management that can help you increase your productivity and reduce stress and burnout.

None of them will work for you, but these are some of the more popular ones you may want to try.

Whether you are a hobby photographer or a professional, chances are that you are doing a ton every day.

Finding ways to be more efficient can ultimately add hours to your day and even help you sleep better.

The Time Management Tips post for photographers first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Darina Kopcok.

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