What does your weekly schedule look like? So many times, as small business owners, we make lists and lists of all of the things that need to get done, but somehow rarely feel productive. We certainly feel busy, but at the end of the day we look back wondering what was actually accomplished!
For photographers, the struggle is real… if there isn’t a session to be photographed, or edited, we spin our wheels, get easily distracted, and sometimes even procrastinate on what needs to get done inside our businesses! We scroll mindlessly, re-organize props, and even clean up a hard drive just to avoid what actually needs to get done in our business.
We end up frustrated and stuck, and feeling like we will never achieve success! At the end of the day, it can seem like the day ran away with itself, and end up feeling extremely overwhelmed. (There have been days when I’ve even wished for a boss to just tell me what to do!)
Time blocking works by allowing you to allocate blocks of time to work on specific tasks.
I’m a huge fan of time-blocking, and filling those blocks of time with action steps. Time blocking can get us clear on what needs to happen to move our business forward. When planning out our businesses, the most important step is to plan personally, first. What this means, is that every single thing that is important to you personally gets on your schedule. As a business owner, you get to decide what your own priorities and non-negotiables are. When we plan personally first, we schedule our own goals and priorities before our business goals, and then build a business to support the things that are most important to us. (Not the other way around, which I had to learn the hard way!)
GOALS + PLANS + ACTION STEPS LIST:
Friends + Fun
Plan for these things first, and then write the Financial plan and goals for your business
Once you have planned and scheduled what’s important to you personally, then start planning out what your business week looks like. After planning for your hours of operation – or what hours you’ll be working in your business, the first thing to plan is what you’re most excited about – sessions! When will you be scheduling sessions each week? Once you’ve blocked your time for shooting, be sure to schedule in time for all parts of your workflow for each client.
Next, fill in time blocks for marketing. Every single week we should be actively seeking new leads through connections, conversations, networking, and sometimes advertising. When you block your time for marketing, you’ve got space to start filling in the names and numbers of people, businesses and organizations that you want to connect with.
When scheduling events on your calendar, back up from that date and get time blocked to brainstorm and plan for that event, create any marketing, pricing, or other studio pieces that you will need for that event, and then put times on the calendar for when you’ll start actively marketing for that event.
You’ll also want to have blocks of time for the hum-drum of business operations which can include organizing, cleaning, book-keeping, updating your website and blog, the time you’ll be creating content, posting and commenting on social media, time for follow-up with past clients and business connections, etc. List out all of the Jobs and Projects that need to get done in your business, and then determine whether they are a weekly, monthly, or quarterly task and get them scheduled!
Another important block to schedule is for learning and personal growth. We should be always be learning and growing + seeking accountability, but can often use learning, or even seeing what others are doing – seeking that magic pill, as a way to procrastinate on just doing the thing. Set time blocks for education, so that you are consistently telling your brain that you are intentional about growth, while not using it as a distraction to avoid tasks that need to get done.
I also like to schedule what I call “flex-time”. I build this time in around certain projects that tend to drain my brain. lol And then will add a larger block of flex-time to the end of my week so that I can add in any tasks that didn’t get completed, or to add time for ideas that popped up during the week, so I don’t get as distracted during a focused time-block.
When starting, stay flexible and try auditing your time. Set a timer for specific projects and note if it takes less or more time than you anticipated. A time audit is also an important step when you’re ready to start out-sourcing, but that is a conversation for another time!
Over time, try to stay consistent with your blocks of time, with the same activities or projects on specific days and times in your week. When we get into repetition – Moday’s from 10-11 is for picking up the phone and making new connections, and Fridays from 1-2 is for book-keeping, for example, it takes away the guesswork and decisions that need to be made on what to do next.
Time-blocking has allowed me to visually look at a map of my week and stay focused on specific tasks and activities while keeping personal priorities first!
I would love to hear about what time-management systems have worked best for you!
“In all hard work there is profit, but merely talking about it only brings poverty.”
(Get intentional about your time, and steward it well.)