13 Productivity Boosting Ideas for Photographers
Working from home can be super challenging...
Which is why whenever I discover habits that increase my productivity, I'm eager to note these and share with the masses! Now, I'm not always the most qualified person to write this but on my good days, I'm a MACHINE and these are some of the things I have found the most helpful!
compile your to-do list the day before
This has helped me oodles! Of course I add to it relentlessly throughout the day, but it totally helps me sleep better as I'm not dwelling on what I must remember as I try to nod off. I have found a week-long to-do list that I fill out on Fridays with all the overspill I didn't finish the week before, as well as any appointments or deadlines I have and it helps me have a more peaceful weekend. I also LOVE using a highlighter to mark off all my completed things so it's obvious, but I can still read everything I've finished. I I sometimes save the list of particularly busy weeks full of multicolored pen and highlighter markings, to remind me how fierce I am!
get a good night's sleep
According to sleepfoundation.org, "Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise." And I FULLY believe it! I have a NOISY upstairs neighbor at the moment and on those nights when the insomniac a few feet above my slumbering head decides to whip out his guitar, I'm grateful we invested in a sound machine and have a nice fan to block out the noise. A few drops of CBD helps me get a great night sleep as well. And when my sleep is sub-par, dang do I know it! Find out what works best for you, whether it's evening meditation, ditching the screens a few hours before hitting the pillow, or a brisk evening walk in the crisp air. Your productivity will soar on the days you feel well rested!
cultivate a healthy morning routine
One of the big changes I made toward the second half of 2020 was giving myself time to wake up in the morning, rather than jumping right onto my laptop and diving into my to-do list, which is what I used to do. When I have a big project going, I sometimes temporarily pick up that bad habit, but the majority of my days now start with a centering routine which has seen my productivity skyrocket. This will look different for everyone, but if you don't know where to start, borrow mine:
First step - don't touch your phone. Don't even look at it!!!
Then enjoy some warm lemon water while journaling (I like using a guided journal, especially in the morning) to the sounds of chakra cleansing tunes, lit by fairy lights and a candle if I'm feeling fancy. Followed up by 10-15 minutes of meditation, and completed with a Spanish lesson on Duolingo if I remember (sometimes I do this later in the day to avoid using my phone right when I wake up). Then I generally make a tea, start on some work that needs focus (this is my prime productivity time.) And around 8:30 I treat myself to a nice little breakfast!
identify your most productive time of day
We are ALL different. In so many ways. Some of us live for that early start to the day (most days I'm one of these!), but if that's not your optimum productivity window, don't beat yourself up and try to force it. You'll fall into your swing of things when you find that time that truly suits you.
take a break during your WOCL
Have you ever heard of the Window of Circadian Low? This is a term often used in aviation to define when we're at our lowest productivity levels and sleepiness may be the highest. For most individuals, it's between 2 and 6 am, but there's a second window in the afternoon between 3 and 5pm. I learned about this at my last office job. They recommended taking a moment away from the desk, having a short walk, stretch, or tea break. Essentially, giving yourself a moment to reenergize to finish off the day strong.
try lo-fi tunes
If you're one of those people who doesn't love silence, but gets distracted with lyrics, I highly recommend finding some lo-fi or chill hop playlists on spotify. They're so relaxing and help me get into my flow. I've listened so much this year that it's completely thrown off my spotify yearly wrap up!
social distance yourself from your phone
Phones are great. But they are distracting. I quarantine mine to the other room with the notifications off for the majority of the workday, checking it occasionally on tea breaks. The truth of the matter is that most things can wait. And I have a far healthier, productive day if my phone is not arms reach from me.
shut down computer apps
A related but tougher thing is to turn off apps on your computer. Most of my day whatsapp, imessage, and mail are completely shutdown on my laptop unless I need to send or check something specific. It's amazing how much more gets accomplished when I wait until the afternoon to start checking messages!
share your to-do list
This one may not be for everyone, but for awhile I was posting my daily to-do lists to my instagram story in the morning and I noticed that when I shared all my goals for the day, I actually held myself more accountable. And that's often one of the big challenges of being self-employed with no one checking in on your project progress. Make sure to tag your clients if you're working on their shoot!
Do you give yourself rewards? It may sound silly but it can actually work if you promise yourself something if and only if you complete one of your goals, big or small. Can be anything from a hot chocolate, to watching an episode of your favorite show, or rewarding yourself with a pair of new shoes. Choose your own adventure! Lots of mini-rewards is a good way to start - get shit done and feel good doing it! What would you reward yourself with?
time block your week
This is something that took me a WHILE to figure out for myself. I kind of treated tasks like liquid that just used to fill my week however they wanted but ever since setting days aside for specific tasks, I've not only been more productive on the admin side of my business, but I've also been selling out my shoot days. Maybe it's the scarcity of only shooting two specific days per week or perhaps it's just the energy of putting the intention out to the universe. Whatever the reason, I am grateful beyond words!
I generally only work on my photography business 4 days each week:
Mondays are set aside for metrics tracking, blogging, content planning, and other admin.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are shoot days.
Wednesdays are networking and editing days.
How do you arrange your week?
Setting up email tempates has been CRUCIAL in saving time, increasing productivity, and in insuring that for the most part, my clients get similar experiences. I also save a ton of time by having a huge shoot prep guide that allows clients the ability to work through the steps of the branding shoot plan in their own time and identify points they want to elaborate on with me in their own time.
find the right tools
Doing things certain ways can have a negative impact on your time use, and unfortunately, it can be challenging to find tools that actually help you break your routine and are worth taking the time to learn. One of the most impactful tools I have found in speeding up my process is culling my RAW galleries with Narrative Select. There is a free version and I'm hooked! It's so fast and has great photo comparison features.
The other tool I've been using to help me stay focused is a time tracker called Toggl Track. It's really useful to look back on my weeks and see how much time I spend on each type of task, and I love the pomodoro feature that makes sure to tell me to take a break every 45 minutes - very handy!
I hope these tools and suggestions are helpful to you in helping you boost your productivity!
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