As a busy career woman, my typical day is split into office, family and photography and I have learnt quickly that time is a scarce and a finite resource and that I have to be really mindful in the way I spend it. At this moment I cannot reduce my 8 to 10 hours average work day (one day I'll go part-time, I promise!), nor I can add hours to my day of course, so.. I thought about looking for some effective apps and tricks to help me save time during the day so that I can invest is back into my photography business. So if you also wish you could have 48 hours per day or just few extra hours per week to devote to your photography profession like me, here are some tips and apps that you must absolutely be aware of, if you want to save extra time in anything you do during the day and stay focused on your photography business.
Well, to start with, define your "sustainable" list of activities: this means to define the main tasks on your "must-do" and "wish-to-do" lists and get them organized, so prioritize them and be reasonable on the number of tasks you want to/ can cover on a daily or weekly basis. Being reasonable is part of bringing small sustainable (but continuous!) improvements in your new weekly schedule and make this organizational change your new habit, instead of dropping it after few weeks as too difficult/ tough to follow! So, here we go, let's get started: relax, get comfortable and read on..
1) A standardized weekly schedule
So once you have clear your weekly tasks and their priorities, place them on your weekly planner and see what you have. So, how does this work? Well, first thing first, try to set up a standardized way of working during the week.
Just right here you can see my weekly schedule as an example: I try to match each day of the week with an activity, creating a recurrence that helps me to stay focused. So I have Monday evenings blocked for blogging, Tuesdays for working on my e-Books on Canvas, Wednesday evenings dedicated to post-editing in Lightroom, Thursdays for the review and selection of my portfolio, Sundays are for indoor or outdoor photography, some good photography readings of course and, as I try to make this schedule sustainable, I also ensure to plan for sport and fun of course! Now, here the point is: recurrence, structure and repetition can help create a weekly habit, a "stressless" way of working which will bring more efficiency in your 24 hours per day. Although this is a classic strategy, I decided to still mention it here as I use it regularly and, I swear, it really helps me a lot, so I hope you can apply it as well!
2) Re-think your idle time
Here is where the real time gain comes from: if you want to start using the time you already have more efficiently, check the idle moments in your day, the moments of "non-activity" when, if you put your mind to it, you could see if possible to squeeze some photography related activities. For instance, I ensure to walk to my office any time the weather allows it, and this enables me to listen to courses and photography vlogs/ reviews, as well as to add some fitness to my weekly plan..
Not only: often, especially between spring and autumn, I bring my camera with me while walking to the office and often I change route so I can have different types of pictures (ranging from nature to street photography) and I can profit by the different lighting during the day (blue hour, golden hour etc..) to make beautiful pictures ..
You can use efficiently your commuting time as well, listening to your photography audio's while sitting in your car and heading to your office! And what about the time you have while exercising in the gym? So, using effectively your idle time, at the gym or while commuting for instance, can easily add up to, say, 3 hours per week or 18 working days (144 hours) on a yearly base which, if mindfully planned, you can add to your photography growth plan.. pretty cool, isn't it?!
3) Less post editing
Editing pictures with complex software like Photoshop or more friendly ones like Lightroom has really reached bizarre levels in my opinion, with pictures that are not more pictures but "graphic products" which reflect a reality that is becoming more fantasy and illusion than a real representation of the world. That's why I can be qualified as a "purist photographer", back to the basics, and I always try to minimize the time spent on post editing: at the beginning of this blog, you have read that I plan 1 evening per week working in Lightroom: I mostly crop my pictures and sometimes enhance a bit the colors or the exposure of a picture.
I basically ensure to keep this task at a maximum of 2 hours per week and I am very well aware that I could save 1 additional hour per week and 6 working days (48 hours) per year. if during the time used for post editing I would practice more. So the idea here is to try to become a better photographer and pay more attention to not shooting thousands of pictures every time working on a project, but trying to shoot less pictures and of better quality.. a bit like we used to do at the good old times when we had a film in our camera's and not a sim card. So being conscious of minimizing the number of pictures you take during a photography shooting, will allow you to save time both on post editing and on pictures selection. Not to mention that many famous photography competitions are now requesting non edited pictures to their participants.
4) Maximize your productivity
The so called "Pomodoro Technique" is thought at time management courses as a "time-boxing" methodology and relates to better and more effective ways of learning, stay focused and be productive. The technique suggests a break of 5 to 10 minutes every 25 minutes of work/ study / being busy with an activity. The break can be used for simple relaxation, a walk outside, calling a fried, reading a photography article.. you can make it as efficient as you wish! The point here is that:
1) chunking your tasks in smaller parts (25 minutes per chunk) and
2) taking regular breaks when concentrating your mind on something as well as
3) changing from the topic you are concentrating on to a different one,
all this helps to learn more effectively.
I tried recently to add this new habit to my daily routine, not all day long but only when having to work on tasks for more than 2 hours at the office.. so, instead of doing like my colleagues who go outside to have a cigarette, I take the 10 minutes break to read some photography articles. Healthier and more effective! Let's assume we can dedicate 10 minutes break per day, twice per day only (so we apply this technique to 1 big task per day only), will add 20 minutes in 1 day, 100 minutes in 1 working week of 5 days and per year say 4800 additional minutes or around 10 working days (80 hours) per year to your photography learning!
5) Stay focused on the internet!
Apart from the classic "turn off your phone and all your (email, text etc.. notifications", POCKET is an app which will help you stay focused, allowing you to quickly save for later an interesting article you found on the internet and which you might want to read later on. So don't start reading a page which popped out or an article you found while you were going to look for something on the internet: just click on your POCKET icon and the app will save the page for you. Before you know, you have created your own repository of articles custom made for you and, when reading, you will be reading only what really interests you. Now that you have a weekly planner, leave all your readings for a relaxed Sunday!
Despite I do my best to stay focused, I admit the internet offers SO much that I still get carried away very often.. I am sure I loose at least a good hour each week wandering around the internet, so this technique could mean saving 6 working days (48 hours) on a yearly base! Not bad at all again: a full working week to dedicate to your photography business!
6) Let it multi-task for you
IFTTT (IF THIS THAN THAT) is a new App that lets you connect different events, apps, profiles and items together. It has a much wider use than photography only, that's why I also actively use for my office career, to help me get better organized, get reminders, network with the right people, stay up to date. For example, IFTTT can send a thank you to a colleague, or to a new person who follows you on Instagram and automatically let them know that you appreciate their choice. You can also set up the App to post your picture tweet to other social media accounts.
There are many options to explore as IFTTT connects many (really many!) apps together: since it can automate many different tasks it can save you a significant amount of time. If someone inputs information into web forms you have set up, for example, you can get a notification so that you can make use of the client data. Again, how to quantify this? While you'll have to invest some time in setting up all your Apps at the beginning and in understanding how it all works, the potential in helping you to get better organized and multi-task on your behalf might really save you time. Let's again suppose a saving of, say, 1 hour per week? This means again 6 working days (48 hours) more per year which you can add to your photography growth plan!
Absolutely a must for all photographers active on social media is using apps to help you plan your posts schedule so that you can be busy with that only once per week or per month and have your b logs or posts regularly posted on your social media. I use MAILCHIMP which really offers A LOT for free. While Hotsuite and many others applications offer very little for free, MAILCHIMP offers amazing opportunities even within its Forever Free Plan, only limiting the total subscribers, as well as your daily and weekly sends. With the Forever Free Plan you can still manage your contacts, view your analytics, build lists, design campaigns.
So this App is absolutely a must for me and the organization of my weekly calendar as I explained above. It's again difficult to clearly quantify the saving in terms of time also in this case.. but for me already a minimum of 1 hour per week would translate again into 6 working days (48 hours) per year to dedicate to my photography,
Let's wrap this up at this point: just few new apps on the market and a few new time management habits in your daily life can allow you to easily find more time for your photography business. With some assumptions but also quite a conservative approach, I have come to calculate a gain of additional 46 working days (more than a month for full time photography!) which you can spend on growing your photography knowledge and business!
Do you apply any of these techniques or use any of these apps during your day? Do you know others which makes you really effective and efficient during the day? Let me know what you think! Share your comments below here.
Before leaving each other ...
All this focus on actively trying to make time for photography lead me to shoot thousands of beautiful and colorful pictures in the least years. Did you have a look at my WEB SHOP? If not, then you can find many of my pictures and series clicking here! And if you buy a picture, please don't forget to let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org where did you locate it in your house/ office/ space as I am really curious to know :-) Last but not least, don't forget that not all my pictures are set up for merchandising! Indeed my best selections can only be printed on photo paper, metal and canvas and are in limited editions (max 10 copies allowed). You can see my limited editions here: Limited Editions
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