It’s that time of year! I’m sure you’ve started to see GIFS and blog posts about how “October is to photographers as April is to Accountants” and so-on. The funny thing about that saying is how true it really is. The not-so-funny thing about it is that many of us really do feel like we’re on the verge of burn-out. So many of us are sitting in front of a computer for hours on end, barely coming up for food or to experience daylight. And those of us with kids and their extra-curricular activities are having an even more difficult time trying to keep up.
So while we joke about it in order to keep ourselves from crying, we’re all extremely thankful for any grace and understanding our clients show us during the rush before the end of the year holidays begin.
If you’re a photographer yourself you know exactly what I’m talking about. I have personally seen post after post, and IG story after IG story of peers confessing this feeling of drowning or even of being in physical pain from staying hunched over a keyboard. So I’ve compiled a list of common sense things that we can do to keep ourselves healthy while we chip away at the never-ending editing and emails.
- Don’t fight against your natural internal clock. – I’m a night owl and have a tendency to work the best and be the most efficient during the night hours when everyone else is sleeping. Personally, this usually kicks in for me after 2pm and can last as long as midnight or 1am. During the day my brain just isn’t in “work mode” and I have a very hard time getting anything done on the computer when my kids need me in the morning. I’ve learned not to fight it. As long as my deadlines are met, the time of day that I get them done is moot. If I try to set my alarm to get up before the kids I end up getting super distracted with the dishes, or the laundry, or trying to enjoy a HOT cup of coffee to myself before anyone wakes up. Then I just end up with wasted time where no “real” work got done. Being in tune with when I work the best and am most likely to be productive has been a huge help to keep me on track.
- Take time for yourself. – If you have to take your lunch outside on your deck just so you can peel yourself away from your computer, DO IT. And don’t feel guilty for walking away from your phone, too. Taking some time in the middle of the day for a short walk will also help to boost your energy, refresh your brain, get ideas flowing again, and allow your lungs to pull in some fresh air. ALL of which are crucial for your health. One thing that I like to do at the end of a work day is to read a good book before I fall asleep for the night. I find that it’s a good way for me to imagine new places and follow new stories that have nothing to do with photography.
- Spend time with your family. – I know how easy it is to brush your husband off when you’re trying desperately to JUST. GET. THROUGH. THE. EMAILS. I know how easy it is to plop the kids in front of the TV to keep them occupied for an hour. And while sometimes doing those things are a necessary evil to push through the end of the year, try really hard not to do it every day. Whenever I find myself resorting to the TV or games on the iPhone too much I step away from the computer and do something with the kids. Even if it means wrestling in the floor or baking cookies together. Taking time to spend with your family doesn’t take away from your work. And your work will always be waiting for you when you get back.
- Drink more water and eat healthy snacks. – This is me preaching to the choir, guys! I’m a coffee addict! It’s SO SO easy for me to brew another cup of coffee. It’s warm, it has a chocolate taste, foam on the top – comfort in a mug! But the extra caffeine isn’t what my body needs. When I was pregnant with Elle I wasn’t drinking enough water and ended up in the hospital for preterm labor complications. That was only 10 weeks ago and I’m still not drinking enough water. It’s a terrible thing to admit and something I definitely need to work on!
- Set expectations with your clients as soon as you can! – Answering emails/texts/DM’s during all hours of the night isn’t ideal. Doing these things will usually cause your clients to think that you’re constantly ON. We’re human, too! We need rest and time away from the emails/computer/PM’s/immediate responses. If you choose to be okay with text messages, by all means keep doing it! But please don’t feel guilty for not responding to a text while you’re eating dinner with your family – or worse, at 1am when a text notification wakes you up. Tools that help you to manage the texts/PM’s/emails/inquiries can be a wonderful investment for your business and your sanity!
Here’s what I use:
– Sortd. It’s a super simple plugin for Gmail that helps you manage tasks and organize your emails by importance.
– Pixifi. My client management system has absolutely changed my organizational skills! It even has auto-response capabilities for inquiries. (Automation during such busy times of the year can be super helpful when you need assistance with managing your time.)
– FB Messenger. I have an auto-response set up on my business page letting people know that I received their message and I’ll respond as soon as I’m able. Doing this helps to give them some peace-of-mind knowing that I’ve seen their messages.
One more tip that you can use in order to manage texts/emails/DM’s is to turn off the notifications on your phone. Setting a set time during the day to double check those things will allow you even more uninterrupted time to work on your editing, marketing, blogging, and everything else you have to juggle as a small business owner. I’ve chosen to turn off all social media notifications on my phone and keep my email notifications on. That way I won’t miss a super important email. However, I do try my best to make sure I only check those notifications when I’ve got time.
Hopefully these tips will help as you chip away at your long to-do list, just in time to enjoy the holidays!