Do you have days where you feel like this? Overwhelmed, overworked, and unable to keep up?
I know I sure do! I have had my share of them in the past. It is especially bad in the middle of October, where I am gone a few nights a week and staying up late to edit photos. With three small children under the age of 7, life gets a little crazy at home. Over the years of having my business, I have learned (mostly through trial and error) how to manage my family/personal life and my business at the same time.
Whether you have kids, a spouse, or are on your own, it is important to balance life and work. I have listed 5 ways below that will get you on your way to find more time to spend with your family, as well as manage a successful business.
#1 – Define Work Hours
This is #1 for a reason. Even though we all know family comes first, it is really hard to remember that when you have 10 sessions and 2 weddings to edit, 3 print orders to put together, and emails piling up in your inbox. Set business hours and stick to them. I started to do this last year, and it has helped tremendously with balancing my life. I know I can maybe get in an hour of work during nap time, but most of my time working comes after the kids go to bed. I also keep Sundays strictly for family time. There are exceptions, however I make it an absolute last resort to schedule something on a Sunday.
Your clients need to understand your priorities as well. Post your business hours for them to see, and communicate your timeline and expectations with them. They need to understand that you have a life outside of your business!
#2 – Assess Your Business Workload and Workflow Process
A few years ago, I came to the realization that renting a studio on my own was costing me precious time and money. It was a wake-up call. In order to keep up with the costs of managing the studio, I was going to have to double my prices or work at least twice as much, neither of which I wanted to do. So instead, I adjusted my expenses, by giving up the studio, to attain what my desired workload would be. If you are having trouble figuring this out on your own, my Photography Pricing Workbooks are an excellent tool to assist you with determining your minimum fees/print minimum in relationship to your workload and expenses.
Your workflow process is also very important. My workflow process from start to finish is basic and efficient. I do 90% of my editing in Adobe Lightroom and have recently started to either email files to clients or send them USB drives with their photos. This workflow works great for my situation, but this is just one an example of how you can tailor your own workflow to fit your life. Someone with more time may be able to do more editing or offer more prints and products, and charge accordingly for that extra time and products.
#3 – Keep a Calendar and Communicate
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but having a calendar and maintaining it is not easy. My husband and I manage a Google calendar for his work, my work, the kid’s activities, and our personal events. You can sync it with most calendar programs as well, so if he makes an update on his phone or computer, it shows up on my computer almost instantly. We also have a white board calendar that the kids can see whenever I have a session or a meeting. When we get busy and do a poor job of keeping entries up-to-date, we have gotten double booked. There have been a few times where we have gotten blindsided when I’ve scheduled a session, and he has a meeting. Which is why it’s always important to keep the communication lines open about the schedule. On Sundays, we have a quick conversation about how the week looks and where we have to be. It helps to make sure that we didn’t miss anything on the calendar and to review how busy our week looks.
#4 – Take a Break
Sometimes, all I need is 1 hour to myself; no working and no parenting. Whether it’s going for a run, reading a book or magazine, surfing the web, or going shopping, everyone needs time to recharge and refresh themselves, otherwise you risk becoming ego-depleted. If you have the time (maybe during one of your breaks), read all about Ego-Depletion here! Tim Ferriss (Four Hour Blog) does a great job of putting into words what we all experience when we are busy and stressed (warning about the strong language on the cover photo!).
#5 – Ask for Help
Whether it’s a spouse, family member, friend, neighbor, etc. do not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help when you need it. It is a difficult job managing a household and your own business!
And most importantly, remember that it will all be OK.
It’s OK if your kids watch a little TV while you finished up editing a session or composing an important email. It’s OK if your dishes are dirty. It’s OK if the laundry is piling up. It’s OK if you get to bed late a few nights. Trust me. You are not the only one!
I would love to hear what you do to help balance your business and personal life! What has worked for you in the past? How have you learned to balance life and work? Any tips or tricks that you have to help you manage it all?