Elizabeth and I recently held a free webinar discussing how to get more time back into your week. I know a few friends missed the talk, so I wanted to follow up here with some of my key points:
Set your Goals + Intentions
Once I became a mom, I realized something had to change quickly. My business needed to run 30% more efficiently just to accommodate for the additional time parenthood would take from me. I also needed to find a way to make more money to accommodate for the additional expenses of bringing another human into our home.
I wish I had realized this sooner. My life would have been so much more full and relaxed. Before Kitt, I was going through the motions, not taking days off. I was overworking myself each month because I felt like I had to. If I had only set boundaries and goals much sooner, I would have had a more balanced life. If I had taken a step back to reevaluate my systems, I would have seen how much was broken, even though it seemed to be working well.
Some questions you should ask yourself:
// How do I want to spend my weeks? Do I want to work 9-5, M-F? Do I want more days off but longer work days in between? How do I want to spend my year?
// Do I want significant time off for travel or holidays?
// Would I rather work 52 weeks a year at a standard pace or hustle during peak season and relax during slow season?
// How much money do I need to make?
// How much do I want to make?
// What are my biggest returns on investment?
// Which things are sucking time and money away from my business and life?
// Where is money being wasted?
// What systems are not working for me?
// What is something I hate doing and can outsource?
// What is something I enjoy but don’t have time to do?
These answers will form the boundaries for your year and the parameters for your week. These intentions will give you more time with your family, make you more money, help you to serve your clients better, and give you your life back.
They will also help you figure out how you work best, which will help you work more efficiently. For example, I am an “all or nothing” type of person. I can’t work for 30 minutes, take a break, work for two hours, stop for two, and then pick it up for 15 minutes before the day is over. I can much easier hunker down and get much more accomplished if I know I have at least a few consecutive hours to crank out work. Since our work schedules are flexible because we’re both self-employed, we split up our days to accommodate these needs.
Another example is that I generally don’t book engagement sessions for non-wedding couples. I enjoy family sessions and elopements so much more, mostly because I get to invest more time in the relationship. Once I started removing these extra engagement sessions from my workload, I had so much more time in my schedule to take on boudoir, family, and elopements. It also freed up my weekends to take more wedding work.
Start cutting back on the time suckers and things that are not large returns on investment. Use that TIME to invest in the things you love + bring in more money for your family.
I highly recommend Lara Casey’s Powersheets. I’ve gotten more accomplished this year than I have in three years because of these planners.
Set Up a Client Management System
Cue: Dubsado. This program has changed my life. I’m really simple (and cheap) when it comes to software, so this says a lot. It took an entire week to learn the system, but that week gave me back MONTHS of time + less stress from lack of organization. I’ve also heard great things about Honeybook, 17hats, Táve, and Pixifi.
Compound Similar Tasks
When I plan my week, I compound tasks. Monday is my “grunt work” day. I do everything I hate on this day. I run errands, grocery shop, pay bills, catch up on weekend emails, etc. I get everything out of the way that I dislike on the backend so that I can focus on more creative projects.
Be Smart About the Season You Are In
I have a tending list that I add to throughout the year for winter projects + tasks. During off-season, I slowly work through this list so that it is finished before peak season begins. It’s easy to become lax + lazy during off-season, but this list has helped me continue to propel my business forward year after year. It also helps me not feel so stressed during peak season because the only thing I have to do is editing + social media! I can also turn around weddings + sessions quicker because my workload is focused on editing vs. backend work.
Some things I focus on in the off-season:
// Order packaging for the year
// Prep welcome packages so that the only thing I need to do is to write a note and ship
// Update website
// Send gear for clean + check
// Organize budget for the year
// Reevaluate pricing. Adjust invoicing, contracts, and quickbooks if necessary.
// Prep all blog posts
// Work on submissions
// Deep clean house
// Complete home projects
// Finish personal photo books
Small Things That Are Big Timesavers
A few other miscellaneous things that help save time:
// Put your phone in another room. Don’t check social media until your work day is over.
// Be in work mode when you’re working. Be in family mode when you’re with family. Trying to do either at the same time ruins the enjoyment of both.
// Take breaks but don’t get distracted by other tasks. Focus on the tasks you’ve set for the day.
// Only respond to emails once a day, twice at most. I like to start my day with emails and sometimes end the day with emails. Efficiency is cut when you answer intermittently between other tasks.
// On Sunday, I will schedule my workout classes, family time, date night, and downtime. Whenever we decide to play it by ear, these things never happen. Work always feels like it needs to be done, so creating this boundary helps keep work out from these activities!
// Make sure to not dump too much on your weekly list. I find that when I do this, I feel overwhelmed and then I’m not able to get anything accomplished. I “brain dump” my list for the week in one column, and then divide the tasks by day.