We as busy Mamas and photographers have to wear a lot of hats. We are chauffeurs, personal shoppers, and chefs, bookkeepers, client relation specialists, editors, website designers, house cleaners, copywriters, stylists, lifeguards, we do all the things. It can feel like the only way to get everything done is to multitask it all. But here is the thing, there really is no such thing as multitasking. What we are really doing is task switching. Task switching can look like a little reading, write a post, respond to some emails, scroll Instagram, then do it all over again. We are never really giving any one-task our full attention. This means it can take way longer to actually finish a task, and we are increasing the chance of errors by 50%.
According to a study done by Dr Gloria Mark, she found that most professionals only spend an average of one minute and fifteen seconds on a task before some kind of interruption. And after an interruption, it can take up to 25 minutes to resume the task.
Even though we feel like we are getting so much done as we switch back and forth between tasks, we are really losing time because it can take our brains so long to get back on track. It’s easy with these statistics to see that multitasking or task switching isn’t very efficient for our lives or our businesses. Multi-tasking is a hard habit to quit for sure, I know I love to look to the future all the time and see what’s next instead of focusing on the task I have at hand. But here is the thing, I wasn’t moving my business forward very quickly, and I never felt present with my kids. It’s taken some time but I’ve finally created a system that works for me to plan ahead, work efficiently and truly step away from work to be fully present with my family.
And that is the art of batch working!
Batch working is simply to create a focus around a topic every time you’re sitting down to work. I like to think about it as one single topic per day or per block of time. There are a lot of different ways of doing this, some people like to have certain days set aside for client work, certain days set aside for social media, and other days set aside for networking. This could look like client work on Mondays, social media on Wednesdays and networking on Fridays, and then repeat it the next week. Instead of looking at one week I look at the entire month. I only work three days a week Monday Tuesday Thursday.
Anxiety was something I was certainly struggling with for a long time. I and I know I’m not alone. For me, it was always feeling like I was behind. Like I was scrambling to get something out last minute. Batch working has given me peace of mind and allowed me to look at things a month or even a year ahead. And know what has to get done and batching those tasks so I can actually move forward, and not be stressed out about feeling like I’m behind.
The biggest thing that batch working done in my business makes it way more efficient. Batching has given me a clear plan that is key to pursue a healthy hustle. I basically know what to do every day without having to spend precious energy on stress or anxiety wondering how I will get it all done. Batch working creates clarity and helps you reach your goals sooner! Plus, without all that nagging noise in your head, you can focus on bigger goals and your personal life. It also has the added positive side-effect of never feeling behind again. If anything you’ll be on top of your work leaving you with more time for you.
I already said I batch in one-month chunks instead of week chunks. So lets take this podcast as an example.
It could be easy for me to record one episode of this podcast a week, but it takes me a lot of time to get into the flow of writing and recording episodes. For the podcast, I block off two days every couple of months and write out and record episodes. My first day is planning what episodes, and writing them. The second day I record them and send them to my editor. At the beginning of the year, I scheduled all of my writing and recording dates.
For guest episodes I have a calendar for guests to pick a record date that works for them. I open up two Thursdays a month for those. I’m recording this episode on January 28th. And my guest episode line up is already booked out until the second week in April. All of these guest shows will be recorded by February 6th!
This gives me plenty of time to create all the blog posts, and craft all the social media promotions for each episode way in advance!
So how does this work when it comes to running a photography business.? I talked about how I plan out time for editing in my 10 tips for shooting your first wedding episode, but planning those editing days is a form of batching. By sitting down and focusing completely on editing a session or wedding I’m able to stay in the flow of things, and it has actually sped up my editing.
When it comes to emails, I only check email twice a day on my workdays. I have an auto-response turned on that tells people my office hours and lets them know when they can expect to hear back from me. This means I can only get stuck inside my inbox at certain set times, instead of diving in each time I get a new email. My best piece of advice is to shut off notifications on your phone and your computer for email, so it doesn’t tempt you.
I have a day set aside each month for planning social media content, another set aside for writing blog posts. I also have a day set aside for household tasks like cleaning out my car, and purse, paying bills, dropping off things for donation the kids have outgrown. I call this my duty day, and I’ll do an episode completely dedicated to that soon!
So how do we get started on batch working? There are basically four steps.
Take a step back and see if you can identify what areas of your business you need to work on to maintain it. For me, those areas look like Podcasting, Blogging, Social Media, Big Picture Projects, and then my general business tasks like email. I do this for the month, but you could do this for the week. That’s the beauty of batch working! You can fit as little or a much as you would like. I like having a month of content done ahead of time since I’m only working three days a week!
If you are planning to batch things on a weekly basis then you will want to create a schedule. Think about what tasks are the most demanding or take up most of your energy and motivation. Plan those first. For me, I am always super motivated and energized on Mondays. That’s when I schedule my editing for weddings. Because that takes a lot of energy and mental stamina for me to get through an entire wedding worth of culling and editing for the blog. Social media for me doesn’t take as much energy so I schedule that for Thursdays.
Guys, I even batch my laundry! I talked about it in episode number 4 how to be more productive when working from home
I use Trello to plan out my month since I have a lot of moving parts and things aren’t always super consistent from week to week. My husband works an 8 and 6 schedule, so he works 8 days on and 6 days off, so our life changes a lot week to week, and that’s why the month batching has worked so well for our family. I like to have my podcast writing and recording days back to back sense so I can stay in the zone or flow of things. I batch all my emails to just once a day. I have an autoresponder turned on that lets people know when they can expect to hear back from me. I love in Trello that I can color code things so for me social media is purple, and podcast recording is orange. Client work is blue, and home tasks are orange. I can drag things around on my calendar and reschedule things so simply. I love having a calendar view of what I’m working on and what’s ahead!
I actually created an entire course called Trello for photography that shows you how to use Trello, and gives you the boards I use and best of all you can literally copy and paste to your account! You can head to Trelloforphotography.com for more details!
Batch working is an easy way to plan out your work, your chores and keep things more enjoyable. You get to take the stress out of wonder what to work next, and have less of those nagging thoughts that you should be working on something else. By focusing in on one task at a time you are able to get things done quicker and with more efficiency! Plus when you plan ahead you can be soooo much more strategic in your business, and more thoughtful about how you are spending your time with those you love. If you are going to be opening up session dates, you can start creating content like what to wear posts, round-ups of past sessions, to subtly promote that in the weeks prior to the date you release sessions.