Quick Time Management Hacks

“Tamera how do you complete your photo shoots when the client is off site?” I’ve gotten asked this question a few times and my answer is usually the same every time. Honestly it’s a fair question, with a straightforward answer.

Bills are due every month. That is a great motivator. About 70%+ of my clients are not based in the DMV area. It is a huge pro of shooting product photography. My clients can send their products to me with the trust and understanding the work gets done.

It’s possible because of the systems and process in place when working with my clients and also how I manage my time.

Working for myself for several years I know my peaks of productivity and my lows. I also understand that I am responsible for creating my own schedule. It is a perk of working independently. But, I also know that I need flexibility in my schedule just as much as I need structure.

Here are some tips to get you started

Put everything on your calendar. I did BSchool with Marie Forleo several years ago and my biggest takeaway was if it’s not on the calendar, it' doesn’t exist. Period! Put every lunch or coffee date, meeting, shoot date, nail appointment on your calendar. It’ll give you an idea of your already planned appointments and see if you need to make adjustments when needed.

Make it easier for people to set up a discovery call or appointment with you. AKA Automate/Outsource One of the first tools I implemented in my business was Calendly. It is a free online tool that allows people to schedule an appointment with you without the back & forth of emails. I save about 1 - 3 hours/week using this tool and it’s one of the best things ever. Did I also mention it’s free?

Other things I automate/outsource (will update as list keeps growing)

  • Grocery Shopping (Instacart)

  • Extensive Photo Editing (Overseas Service)

  • Email Management (Boomerang)

  • Planoly (Instagram Scheduling)

Set up your work/office hours. Starting your own business or even with a ft job, we tend to believe we have to give 110% every day. Even during the weekends. I remember scheduling shoots on the weekends, honestly dreading them. That was a quick answer for me to not book shoots on the weekend unless it was a dire necessity (10/10 it’s not). So I made sure I only do photo shoots during the week (Monday - Friday) with an early morning call time. In terms of client calls or meetings. I made my office hours Monday - Thursday (9am or 10am - 5pm EST). Just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean you always have to be available for everyone! Establishing a work schedule/office hours allows you to begin building out structure & boundaries for yourself + others to follow.

Set realistic expectations with your clients. We want to make sure we provide an amazing experience with our clients. But that doesn’t mean setting unrealistic deadlines that can leave them disappointed & dissatisfied. When I used to work at The Container Store, I designed closets, some as small as $1,000 or as big as $20,000. One motto we followed is to never “Over Promise & Under Deliver” In other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Have 60 images to edit for a client, while also managing another? Instead of proving to others you’re Speedy Gonzales, possibly missing easy edits or corrections, give yourself a reasonable amount of time to turnover first round of edits. Clients will not only respect you, but you’ll feel less stressed and more capable of completing the job with 5 stars.

Set up intentional time for play. Just how I create a schedule for office hours and shoots, I also set aside time to play. I don’t necessarily put them on my calendar as I like the ability to be flexible & spontaneous. But I’m also super aware of my responsibilities in the upcoming weeks so I can set aside time to do what I want. I make sure to set aside time to do what I want every week. It doesn’t have to be some grandiose vacation. Maybe it’s just a walk around a neighborhood or a massage. Anything to get my mind off work for a little bit so I can rest mentally & physically.

Prioritize your to-do list. The never-ending to do list. It’s inevitable. You won’t be able to complete everything in one day. Sometimes it’s just not required to be completed. I remember chatting with another entrepreneur who was stressing about completing work at 8pm EST while also expressing being tired. I asked her was it due tomorrow? She said no. I said “Goodnight.” I don’t know if anyone has told you, but it’s okay to rest at 5pm. I know that I’m mentally checked out around 6pm most days, unless I get a surge of energy. So as long as I completed my main tasks for the day, I don’t feel guilty.

  • Write out all of your to-do’s; extra points if you group by type (personal, professional, misc, etc.)

  • Then group by due dates; Then prioritize your tasks.

  • Determine which 1-2 tasks you can accomplish in one day in order to move the to-do list forward. Maybe some can be completed simultaneously. In that case, set aside a block of time to complete them. Which leads me to the next hack.

Need to knock out a ton of work? Do the hard things first! Put that phone on airplane mode. GASPS This may or may not be a novel concept. But when I really need to concentrate, I put my phone on airplane mode put a good Spotfiy playlist on my laptop and work in 90 minute intervals. This is really helpful when I’m batch scheduling my social media content or drafting pitch emails.