As a photography business owner, your time is your most valuable asset. It’s the only part of your existence you can’t leverage. You only have so much time in your day and you cannot add more to those 24 hours, no matter what you do or what you pay.
So, would you like to be more organized? At the end of the day, would you like to feel as though you accomplished a lot? As a small business owner, time management is crucial for success. Over the last few years, we’ve created a system that works well for us. Here are a few tips for email management, organizing your calendar, social media and two of our favorite applications.
Ignore Your Email
This probably sounds a lot easier than it is as most people tend to check theirs every 5-10 minutes. But if you add up all of the minutes that it takes to continually check your inbox and then reply, it’s easy to see why it’s such a time waster.
Instead of being a slave to your email, make it subject to your time constraints. Set aside two time periods during the day to check and respond to all of your messages. This will take some serious motivation and discipline, but it will allow you to devote more focus and time to other tasks that might otherwise be constantly interrupted by checking email.
If yo’re worried that people will get offended by how long it takes you to respond, set up an auto responder that lets people know that you take 10-12 hours to respond, or even 24 hours if that is acceptable for you.
Keep a Detailed Calendar
We like to use a calendar that both gives us a whole month at a glance and allows us to write activities into hourly time slots. If you have kids, then you most likely have something happening all the time, so you need to know what’s coming up. Photography jobs are usually planned weeks or months ahead of time so knowing what family obligations you have means you don’t have to cancel on one or the other.
Put It in Writing
There’s something about committing to a plan in writing that somehow solidifies it in your mind. By writing down your plan of action for the day – including your goals and the details of them – you’ll be armed with a plan that should carry you efficiently through the day. You’ll of course still be confronted with distractions, but if you have a clear understanding of what you need to accomplish for the day, you’ll be more likely to get right back to the task at hand, rather than aimlessly drifting from one task to the next.
Some experts believe you should create this list the night before. That way, you’ll be able to start the next day fully prepared, rather than wasting time deciding how to approach tasks and figuring out what you need to get done.
Take care of your body
You may think you’re doing your business a favor by sacrificing hours of sleep, your diet, and your exercise program. The truth is that you’re doing the opposite. When Richard Branson was asked his top productivity secret, he said, “Work out.”
Your business’s success depends on your thinking, which depends on your brain. All too often, we forget that our brain is a spongy mass of cells that is connected to the rest of our body and feeds off nutrients, oxygen, and blood flow. If any of those are minimized, the brain won’t perform as well and your business will suffer. It’s much better to work for seven hours a day at peak performance than for 10 hours a day at half-consciousness. Get on a good diet, a good workout plan, and get plenty of sleep. If you don’t know how to eat well or exercise, there are plenty of resources for that. It’s fine to be off balance sometimes, but never forget the adage, “Sound body, sound mind.”
How many meetings do you have a week? Whether it’s a client consultation or phone call, we all take notes. After attending so many workshops and seminars over the years, we needed to structure our notebooks and memos better and found Evernote was the best solution for me.
We started using Evernote last year. It syncs to our iPhones / Android smartphones and can be used online. You can add attachments, sort the notes into folders with tags. It’s great for mac and pc. What we enjoy doing is logging into Evernote online after a meeting or seminar and expanding my notes. We often abbreviate or think of additional comments later on. This allows us to structure and organize our notes easily. It can record thoughts and ideas. It acts like a digital assistant. You can clip webpages, and store pdfs in Evernote. It’s fantastic. The best part is Evernote is FREE.
Evernote gives whole new meaning to the word “synchronized.” This software uses technology to help users organize various types of information from several different sources into one, central, web-based location. The product also allows users to clip web pages and archive them for later reference, store screen shots, photos and text notes, all within a customizable storage system. Evernote will also organize things for you by the date a note or other document was created.
The old adage “time is money” is based on a truth that isn’t likely to ever change. The easiest way to increase your income is to pay attention to how you’re spending your time, and then make adjustments to help you spend it better.
If you have other suggestions for making the most of your time spent at work, please post them below.