6 Tips to Stay Sane and Organized in a Business
As a photographer who is also a wife and a mother, I had to learn how to organize my time efficiently the hard way. I started my photography business in 2011, about 6 months after my husband, Caleb, and I got married. In 2012, I finished up my bachelors and had our first son a week later. We had our second son in 2014 and are now expecting our third child in October. We own 20 acres, have cows, a horse, and a garden…it’s a busy little place in the country that we call our home.
Everything that I have learned has been trial and error. However, from the beginning of starting my business, Caleb and I sat down and really discussed what both of us running a business is going to be like for our family. (Caleb is a contractor and owns his own construction company so he puts in 12-14 hour days often). We agreed (before we got married) that I would be a stay-at-home mom once we had kids. To top it off, we are also going to homeschool our kids…how on earth are we both going to run a business with this when we both agreed that this was going to be our lifestyle?
Caleb has been 100% supportive of me pursing photography and this is what we have figured out what works for our family. I hope that what we have learned in the last 3 years can help many of you.
- Know your Priorities.
I am first and foremost a daughter of Christ, then a wife, mother, and last a photographer. All four of these take up a lot of time, especially the first three. Now, this is where I get honest with you…keeping this order of my priorities is hard, really really hard. However, if you daily put this into practice it get easier.
The three things that Caleb and I agreed on to help with this are these things:
- I won’t work weekends (unless it’s a wedding).
- I won’t work on anything business related while the kids are awake.
- Have a set amount of sessions per month.
- Create a Schedule.
Creating a daily schedule and weekly goals for both your daily life as well as photography life is a life saver! To start this, I made a chart of all the days of the week. Then I added in what I needed to do each day for daily life first. Then I add in what I need to do for my business. Below is my weekly schedule. (I color code mine because it just makes me happy).
Having a weekly goal for both is helpful too (only set one goal for each…you will thank yourself at the end of the week). Example: deep clean upstairs (this really needs to happen in my house!). For photography my weekly goal could be writing a blog. The goal that I set is something that is completely optional (most of the time). If it gets gone great! If not, that’s okay too.
Meals!!! Oh goodness…meals. This is something that I just recently learned and why it took me so long is beyond me. Caleb and I sit down every Sunday night (after the littles go to bed) and choose what we’d like to have for dinner each night for the upcoming week. We make our meal choices based on what is on sale at the store that week. The next day, Monday, is the morning we go grocery shopping. (Something that the boys and I look forward to because we stop and buy a fruit smoothie on the way home to share…it makes it fun)! Now here’s the trick that I learned…get ready for it. I make meals Monday through Friday…the weekends I don’t cook and we have left overs. Now making enough for leftovers takes literally an extra 10 minutes each day…LIFE SAVER!!
- Invest Wisely.
I use Lightroom to edit 99.9% of my photos. Before that I used Picasa, don’t get me wrong, it’s a great program to learn on and does a great job however, with Lightroom you can purchase (or make your own) presets. I purchased a good chunk of presets a year ago and it has cut my editing time in half! When I wake up (before the kiddos) at 5am to edit photos…this is a huge! Most times I can cull the session in one day (unless it’s a wedding) then edit the next day or two and be done! (Again, unless it’s a wedding). Here’s an example…I used to average 40-60 hours to edit a wedding; now I maybe spend 20 hours max. That’s a drastic difference and with being a wife and a mom a HUGE help.
- Give longer deadlines.
For any given session, I tell my clients “you’ll have your disc of images in 2 weeks”. For a wedding its 6-8 weeks, depending on the length and size of the wedding. I can cull, edit, and have the disc in the clients hand much sooner however, if one of my boys get sick, I want to have the extra time to take care of them, and to not worry about getting a session edited.
- It’s okay to say “No”.
There have been many times where a potential client will call me and want their family session on Saturday afternoon. Caleb and I both agreed that I won’t work on weekends unless it’s a wedding. Also, I only schedule 3 regular sessions a month and 1 wedding a month. That’s it…no more. If I schedule any more than that I get overwhelmed and stressed…I put photography first and everything else last…and that’s not fair to God, Caleb, or our kids. Back to the client that wants their session on Saturday…I tell them “sorry, I don’t work weekends because that is our family time. What evening during the week would work for you”? Most clients are willing to do their session during the week (this surprised me in the beginning) and the ones that aren’t are usually going to be your very pushy and demanding clients…you don’t want those clients, they just make things a bit harder.
Also, every client that I’ve had has been very understanding as long as you are honest with them. If you can’t get their images to them in time, call and talk to them. People appreciate honesty rather than lies…you want to build your business on trust.
- Enjoy your Family.
If this isn’t happening…something needs to change. Your family is the second most important thing on this earth; the first being God. If you put them aside for you career or hobby that will be detrimental in so many ways. Like I mentioned earlier…I don’t work unless the kids are asleep, that means getting up early when I need to get things done. I would much rather spend my time playing with them and my husband than anything else. I love being married and I love being a Mom…it’s a big job, a huge job but it’s a very rewarding one.
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