As photographers, we have the blessing of being able to work from home for 90% of our job. This sounds like an amazing concept, we get to start our day whenever we want, yoga pants are always acceptable, and no makeup is required. You get to be home with your kids to watch them grow and make memories! You can travel if you want, and have complete control right! There is an overwhelming sense of freedom as if you could accomplish almost anything. The flexibility of being a photographer and deciding your own schedule is extremely appealing. However, just like moving out of your parents’ home, reality soon kicks in and you suddenly realize what you’ve got yourself into.
First, it dawns on you that the lack of accountability (i.e., not having a boss telling you what to do) means that you’re going to have to make sure you’re motivated to do the work. As well as missing your boss (yes, it’s possible), it’s likely at times that you could miss a buzzing, social office environment. Although it might sound appealing to work in your pajamas, it could make it difficult to switch ‘work mode’ on. Don’t get me wrong there are so many amazing things about being able to work from home, but it’s important to recognize that working from home does not necessarily mean an easy ride. Today I’m sharing the best tips I’ve found to be more productive when working from home.
Being productive at home sounds like it should be easy, and it might be the first few weeks, but if we don’t create boundaries, and routines to keep us going we can end up being sidetracked, and constantly running in circles chasing our own tail not actually accomplishing anything that moves the needle.
The first step to getting my house in order was to declutter. Whether you work in a home office, kitchen or living room, if there’s “stuff” around that reminds you of your household chores, your eyes will go there and you’ll get distracted. The recently popular Marie Kondo Netflix series had everyone and their sister jumping on the declutter bandwagon. I think this is a really great method if you can spend 4-5 days deep-diving into your entire house. If you don’t have the time to set aside to complete that method I definitely suggest checking out the book Decluttering at the Speed of Life- Winning the Never-Ending Battle with Stuff. By Dana K White. Dana is a blogger over at the blog called A Slob Comes Clean. Com Dana’s other book How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind is great too! I’ll link both in the show notes below! Having less stuff around my house meant that I could clean up faster. Having less stuff meant that there were fewer things to distract me from work reminding me of the never-ending list of household chores and projects.
Try creating cleaning themes for each day. Here are my tasks for each day!
Creating a home office has many benefits. Having a home office can help to reduce distractions from the rest of the house. It can also be a source of creativity for you. I recently converted our spare bedroom into my home office. I’ve got clean white walls, black sticky notes, warm wood tones, and tons and tons of plants! I’ don’t think I mentioned yet that somehow I have turned into the crazy plant lady. My new home office is a space for me to close the door, get work done, store all my photography gear, complete with a battery charging station! It’s also just across the hall from my son Grayson’s room which means I can hear him when he wakes up from his nap. I love having space I can store all my gear, and when I walk into it I know it’s time to get work done. There is also a financial benefit to having a home office. The IRS offers a tax deduction for those who use a portion of their home specifically for business purposes. Plus, having a home office is quite a bit cheaper than leasing an office or co-working space on a monthly basis.
It can be so tempting to think working from home means sitting around in pajamas with the television on in the background. Not true! Just like in an office setting, you have to set yourself up for success when working from home. Get ready as you would if you were going into the office. The number one thing that has increased my productivity at work, and made me a better mama, is to start a morning routine. I’ll be sharing all about morning routines on an upcoming episode so be on the lookout for that, but I want to share some ways you can craft the perfect morning routine for yourself.
No matter if you work from home sporadically, a few days a week or all the time, you’ll need to plan out your daily schedule. Establish your start time, midday break periods and what time you’ll clock out for the day. I use the program Trello to plan out my daily tasks both for work and life each day. I actually created a course which is a sponsor for this episode Trello for photography is an online course that walks you through how I use Trello as a photographer you can find out more at TrelloforPhotography.com.
I use Trello to track my day to day tasks, I have a board for all my wedding clients where I keep track of my workflow to ensure each client is getting the best possible client experience I can offer, and duplicate over and over! Wedding photography is often a long process with couples booking months to a year in advance, it can be so easy for things to fall through the cracks if you’re not tracking things efficiently!
Even if we are engaged and enjoying our work we can still feel fried from too much stress and too many hours on the job. Burnout in one area of life can easily scorch other areas as well. In Brendon Burchard’s book High-Performance Habits he shares that burnout is often just a feeling of fatigue, and that has a simple fix. If we can give ourselves a short mental and physical refresh or reset each hour we can dramatically improve how we feel. He notes on to share that our brains need more downtime than we think, to process information, recover and deal with life, so we can be more productive. He suggests taking intermittent breaks throughout the day. If you want to feel more energized, creative, and effective at work and still leave work with enough oomph for the life part the ideal breakpoint is to stop your work and give your mind and body a break every forty-five to sixty minutes.
Now that we have eliminated the household distractions, decided on what is going to work on, and set a timer to take a break, it’s time to make sure we are using that block of work time efficiently. Say you’re sitting down to edit a session and your phone dings with a notification that you were tagged in a post on Instagram. Well, of course, you have to go check it out! Next thing you know the timer to take a break is going off and you haven’t edited a single photo because you got sucked down the Instagram hole. My next tip for staying productive is to turn off notifications on everything. Our phones and apps are designed to keep us on them. Each time we hear the pin to ding on our phones our brain gets a hit of dopamine much like a slot machine does in order to keep someone gambling for hours on end. Companies like Facebook and Instagram need you to stay on their platforms so that they can show their investors how much growth and active users they are getting every day! There is nothing wrong with surfing Facebook or Instagram, but you want to make sure you are doing it at the times you are setting aside to do it, not whenever the app things you should be on it. To shut off notifications head to the settings in your phone and click on notifications, you will be amazed at just how many apps are trying to get your attention every day! You can do the same for the computer as well!
One of the most important aspects of a healthy work-from-home routine is creating boundaries. And one of the most important yet often overlooked is Logging off for the day—and not just from your laptop. This is where having a physical home office can be handy where you can literally shut the door on work for the day. Have a last-minute idea come up after office hours? Jot it down, but come back to it tomorrow. Just because you have access to work anytime doesn’t mean you should be logged in 24/7. Allow yourself to have downtime to create a work-life balance—we all need it, no matter where we are working.