When many of my small business owner friends ask me how I’m doing, I often respond with: “Busy”. And their general sentiment is that that’s a good thing or a good problem to have, right? Being busy usually means you’re making money. But what if you’re a perfectionist, like me. You want everything to be the best for your clients. Then, is busy a good thing? You can say yes, you’re ensuring the highest quality for your clients, right? But what if it’s quality but sacrificing speed and service? Then is it still a good thing? Maybe that’s a toss up? Generally, you want the best quality, the best service and the fastest speed all rolled into one package.
At first, I didn’t really think this was a problem. But when I realized that I’m staying up until 2am nearly every night and not getting enough sleep and slowly falling behind on my work. Especially this past summer! Between the weddings, the corporate gigs, the travel for work, trying to have at least a fews hours per week to myself, I realized that something has to change. This summer has been the busiest that I’ve had so far. It’s been tough for me to manage it all. I was finding that after you take away all the costs from a wedding and then break down the remaining dollar amount by the total hours worked on a wedding, my hourly rate was not very good.
And clearly, I wasn’t exactly having a good work-life balance. It’s been all work and no life. And I still don’t have a good balance, but I’m working on it.
As a one man business, like many photographers out there, here’s a few things that I’ve learned:
#1 Set Boundaries for Yourself
For example, tell yourself that you will only work until 8pm during the week and you will not look at email on Sundays. I’m very very bad at this. I’ll work on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights with out blinking an eye. I’ll answer emails whenever they come in, even at 2am on a Satruday and I’ll work 12+ hours a day, a lot. Our phones are great and all, but if you’re out with friends, you don’t need to be checking your work email!
#2 Create a Working Technique or Mindset and Stick to It
So one of my fellow small business owners and I used to talk about how there is not enough time in the day and we both have a million things pulling at us at the same time. Notifications keep popping up and distracting from making progress on a particular task. When I worked in the Aerospace Industry, I remember hearing statistics that every time a light or notification popped up on our screen, we were compelled to check it and it would take us 5-10 minutes to get back into the flow of the previous task.
So, my friend introduced to the Pomodoro Technique. The gist is basically to turn off or avoid all distractions for about 25 minutes or how ever long it takes for you to complete a task. And at the end of that 25 minutes or particular task, then you can do something that’s of a personal nature.
Basically, put your phone face down on your desk, turn off social media, and close your office door while you’re working to complete a particular task.
Try It! You’ll be amazed to see how much work you get done or you may realize how prone you are to ADD you are or how often you really check some sort of Social Media
#3 Set specific times of the Day for Social Media Marketing and Interaction
I know, Social Media is pretty much a necessity to getting your business out there and having people recognize your company and your brand. But if you do some research there are peak times of the day and week when you can get the maximum return or traffic. So why not just set your social media work hours around those times of day/week. You don’t need to be on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram all the time.
Or better yet, hire a social media intern/associate, to take of all of that for you. Many of the posts can be automated through applications, APIs or other tools. But unfortunately, Instagram, does not allow you to schedule posts.
And moreover, Social Media is more about the interaction and not just posting.
#4 Outsource or Hire People (Part Time)
Yes, this will cut into your bottom line, but time is not refundable and your health is definitely worth it. If your buddy or girlfriend is having a birthday party or BBQ on a Saturday, don’t miss it. There are no shortage of talented people out there looking for part time work or willing to help out. In the wedding industry, there are entire companies built around allowing vendors to outsource certain parts of their process.