Finding balance between my everyday life and business life can be difficult at times.

I even notice that some days I’m super efficient and others, the day slips by and I haven’t tackled any of my to-do list while “working”.  By following these tips, I’m far more productive!

1. Lists

I have a three part on-going list that I keep in “Notepad” on my phone.  MUST DO, SHOULD DO, EVENTUALLY DO are my sections.  Most everything starts in my “Eventually do” category and moves up accordingly.

MUST DO’s have to be done today. They are the essentials. I keep it to a light list of things I can absolutely manage – this is both home items and business. I mix both. I do nothing else and don’t allow myself to do anything extra (this includes new and incoming tasks from emails, Facebook messages, requests, inquiries) until this list is done. Just because something is new in my email box, doesn’t mean it’s urgent and has to be completed or answered right this second.

SHOULD DO’s are if I have extra time. These are usually tasks that it would be really helpful to have complete but if they don’t get done, the world won’t end. Typically these “Should” items get bumped up to “Must” the next day.

EVENTUALLY DO is my long term list or items that don’t have to be done within  a strict time frame.

to do list in notepad on the iphone

2. Time

Be ruthless with your time and know how you function. For example, if I touch my computer first thing in the morning, I’m doomed and can’t break away from it for the rest of the day. It’s like eating a brownie for breakfast… changes are you won’t grab a salad for lunch.  I can feel it pulling me in and whispering my name in the background. Know your triggers.

When you do sit down to work, set a timer. I do a 30 minute timer. When the timer goes off I get up and do something for 5-10 minutes (I set the timer for that, too). I will play with my daughter, switch the laundry, vacuum the floor, etc.

Set an ending time. If I work during my son’s nap, I know I have until about 4:00. I tell myself that at 4:00 it’s time to get off the computer whether he is awake or not.

timer to keep you on schedule

3. Check up

I set up dates on my calendar that I call my “Check-Ups”.  I do these on the first of every month as well as quarterly.

Monthly:

  1. Business Expenses/Book keeping
  2. Write and schedule upcoming month’s blog posts

Quarterly:

  1. Add/Remove/Clean Portfolio on website
  2. Back-up images from my 1tb EHD to my 4tb EHD
  3. Clean up client files and keep only the high resolution edited JPEGs
  4. Move images from iPhone to computer and delete from iPhone to free up space
  5. Ensure the Backblaze is properly backing up the necessary information

backblaze

4. Stop pushing

Social media has many positives but it can easily turn into a massive time suck.  Like I mentioned above, I employ a strict ’no checking’ policy until my ‘Must’ list is complete.  To help with this, I have turned off all notifications on my phone. All of them. I’m talking email, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest… all of them.  I can click my email and refresh it myself if I really need to. I don’t need Facebook popping up and grabbing my attention.  I do have my text messages turned on, but when working I turn off the sound and will often keep my phone in the other room, just out of reach, so I resist instinctively checking.

photo files saved on harddrive

5. Be organized

I can’t stress this enough. I have my folder system organized by year and then monthly folders within. A solid and easy workflow makes my life so much simpler.

Is your desktop a mess? Your hard drives have files everywhere? This, my friends, is digital clutter. I don’t do clutter. Don’t keep images that aren’t your favorite. Go through upon import and give those images some stars in Lightroom. I ONLY keep my 5 star images (this does not mean that the image is perfect – it means that I love it).  I only allow myself to keep 200 personal images per month.  I delete the rest.  Having a mess of files and folders might not seem like a big deal when you’ve been shooting for 2 years – but after 20 – that’s messy madness! Nope. Don’t allow it. If you are comfortable with key wording your images do that, too.