Beginning my own photography business seemed a whole lot easier in my mind… before I even purchased my own DSLR camera. Can anyone relate? When I first started my business I had a full time job as a social worker and no kids… now, 8 years later I am a full time mom of 2 little boys, a puppy and I am a full time photographer working from home and out on location. If you asked me where I would be in the year 2020, I would never have guessed this! It’s amazing and I am so thankful!
Since starting my business, each time I would book a client I was ecstatic! I was so excited because these people wanted ME! They LOVED MY work! It’s such an honor to be included in people’s most important milestones, provide them tangible memories, AND get paid for it. But there’s a not-so-pretty side to it all, and that’s when the business starts gobbling up the rest of your life. Here’s where work-life balance can suffer.
Maybe it’s a rite of passage to spend late nights marathon editing, answering client emails from your phone while playing with your kids and working during any spare second you can find. But, I’ve been there, (and sometimes I am still there!) it’s the fastest road to burnout. I know, I should listen to what I am saying… but sometimes it is easier said than done. So I am writing this post not only for you my friend, but for me. So I can go back to it and remind myself it is okay to put things aside and just BE with my family.
This has been a roller-coster for the last 8 years and everyday I am still learning something new on how to help the work/life/balancing act but what I have figured out to help tame the busy season ( and not so busy season) I am sharing below. Here are my 10 tips to help bring you toward creating work/life balance that will in the end, feed your soul, bring you more joy and teach you grace on yourself.
1. THINK FAST AND DECIDE.
That does not mean to just impulsively decide on something right away for the sake of deciding. We need to practice with decisions that are not huge. For example, going through the 100000’s photos that were taken and getting them down to the amount promised to your client. Provide your clients with the best of the best and keep going. If you are able to have someone else help in the culling process of your images, awesome! Let them do it! I need to have this happen many times just because I get emotionally attached to some of my images and I need that second eye to tell me it’s okay to toss some. Once this is done you will waste a lot less time looking at the same things and you can move on the the next big thing on your list!
2. WORKFLOW BATCHING.
Here, photographers can do that with editing. Edit one photo just how you like it, then batch that same edit together with multiple images. You can do this in lightroom. I do this for those images I know are relatively the same lighting/location and just do minimal re-touching once I have that done. It is a huge time saver… which is related to that saying “one thing at a time”. If you know me, I am the worst at doing one thing at a time. My multitasking mind never stops, but for this, I work on sticking to one thing, no distractions. The same thing applies to housework. Stick to one task like laundry before doing the next chore. You wash clothes, you put it away the same day. Groceries… keep a list and get whats on the list only ( This is so hard but it can be done! Just ask my husband!)
Task Batching works for replying to emails, editing images, invoicing clients, planning and shooting sessions. When doing batching, it is helping you to be efficient with your time and It allows your mind to be more productive. I have read many articles, blogs and listened to so many podcasts about this. It’s true!
3. LEARN TO SAY NO.
This one is huge, especially for women. I was and just like everything else I have said, still have a hard time with this! We want to make everyone happy and then we end up overcommitted and frustrated. I can’t tell you how many years I struggled with saying yes too much (and then regretting it) until I finally decided to start saying no, and meaning it.
There are certain jobs that are not a fit for my business, and there are services I no longer offer. In Studio/posed Newborn photography is something I do not specialize in. I LOVE it so much, but I am not comfortable with this as it is not something I learned to do when starting my business. If someone inquires for this services, I politely tell them I do not offer this photography and I send them over to my dear friend, Megan Ho Photography. I know that Megan will take wonderful care of the babies and she will capture amazing details from their first few weeks. This same referral process goes for all services I do not offer. I will send a list of people I know, trust and love so that I know the client will be happy with whomever they choose to do the photography they are hoping for. Starting out in the photography business, it may make sense to take on all the jobs that come your way, but my advice is to figure out your niche ASAP. Your skills photographing that niche, referrals, and momentum are all going to soar once you stay focused in on what you love.
If you don’t love doing something or you’re not good at it, don’t do it! When I get so backed up with photographing weddings, outsourcing just culling, or just editing, or even both are a lifesaver! I usually lean toward just having someone take a look at help me cull down what I have already culled and they I do the editing, however if there are weddings back to back to back and I am getting behind on their deadlines, I will send it out for some help. Many people also use virtual assistants office assistants to help them with so much like social media, email lists, calls, emails, etc. I also fully believe in templates and shortcuts. I have my planner system to help keep me on track, but I came across this which is so cute and can help you too- this daily checklist (which is a free printable). I’ve used all kinds of free resources and purchased client magazine templates in the past mostly though Katelyn James Photography but I like the ones at Bird Design Shop too. There are so many time-saving templates out there. I’ll tell you from experience, they’re worth shelling out a little bit for the hours they’ll save you.
5. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS.
Do you ever compare yourself to that photographer who shoots ten golden hour sessions every week, makes dinner from scratch every night, always wears a cute outfit and volunteers at every school event? That’s when you need to remind yourself to do you and do not get sucked into the comparison epidemic. Who knows if those people are actually getting all the things done that they say they are. And, if they ARE doing ALL the things ALL the time, they’re probably utterly exhausted, and who would wish for that?
Being busy around the clock with no down time to recharge leads to burnout and lack of fulfillment. Remember that you are good enough. You are doing your best. Work-life balance is important.
6. LET GO OF PERFECTIONISM.
Many of us tend to obsess over things until they are perfect. I know it’s so hard not to, but this is what is ultimately holding us back from being our best self. You can include this to our kids, appearance, relationships, work, etc. Knowing when you have worked on something long enough for it to be great enough is the goal here.
7. SELF CARE IS SO IMPORTANT
This one applies to every human. Your business and family life cannot thrive if you don’t take care of yourself. “But there’s no time to work out and eat healthy or do anything for me!” I completely get it. Getting things crossed off of my to do list is part of this process for me. It helps me to not get angry that I got nothing done but recently we invested in the Peleton and I started with one small change. Research shows that if you begin exercising regularly you will automatically begin making other healthier changes in your life unconsciously, including eating better and getting more sleep. Doesn’t that make it so much easier to wrap your head around? Right now I work on committing to 3x a week for 30 minutes. Plus, being physically fit is going to make those back-to-back sessions/ back to back weddings so much easier to shoot! I also love listening to podcasts, educational lessons online about photography, social media, email lists ( haha I know, that seems like work), reading…which turns into an audible book because I just need to figure out how to sit long enough to read. But getting todo those things make me happy!
8. GRATITUDE GOES A LONG WAY
Find time every single day to appreciate what you’ve accomplished and feel gratitude and joy. Our thoughts and mindset are the most powerful tools we have, and what we choose to focus on will become your reality. If you’re reading this post, I know that your dreams are huge and scary! Mine are too but I wouldn’t want it any other way!
9. CREATE YOUR SCHEDULE AND KEEP IT OUT
I have been telling myself for years that I NEED to keep a schedule of what to do and not just a to do list. I need to see it on the day and do my best to set it with a time. If you are a blogger, keeping and sticking to a blog schedule has been so helpful for me and no lie, I JUST started it! I have what I will be blogging about on the dates that the post will go live on the blog, then this way I can prepare when I want to share it on social media and link it to an email. For example, on Wednesdays ( we wear pink…) no, just kidding… Every Wednesday is Wedding Wednesday and I sent out an email that is all about planning a wedding, preparing for your engagement session, or just anything wedding related! I love being able to see what needs to go out, what the post will be about and I can keep myself accountable for getting it done since I have it right in front of me, and I look at the schedule daily.
10. START TODAY.
If you choose one thing from your to do list or change one thing that points you into the direction of improving your work life balance, then do it! One small change can free up an extra 10 minutes of your day, letting to have an extra 10 minutes somewhere else! I recently invested in a Start Today Journal by Rachel Hollis and I love getting to write in that my goals and accomplishments in it. Once you do this, you can then choose how to want to spend the minutes you freed up!