"How do you do it all!?"
"You are SO organized."
"You get a lot done in a week."
I do. I get this a lot (especially on snapchat) and it makes me so excited to share my secrets with you. It's not hard to be with some structure. If you follow me on snapchat (@jamhyatt) you already know that I divide up my week in a way that helps me stay focused and balanced. There are a lot of things to juggle as a solopreneur. Everything rests on my shoulders which can be a little daunting, you know with all the accounting, client relations, inquiries, marketing, design, shooting, post-production, scouting, meetings, etc. But then I implemented this break down last year. It has helped me put focus on the things that matter the most to me and to uphold my own values. It has helped me also to put a high emphasis on education which is really (really) important to me. It's given me back my weekends (for the most part) and therefor my passions outside of photography and my relationships. It's amazing that structure gave me FREEDOM.
So here's how I break it down each week! I stay pretty close to this but sometimes depending on how many shoots I have that week and when- things can get shifted around but I always find a way to get it done. I hope it inspires you to create a structure that works for you and brings you back freedom. I also added some resources at the bottom that have helped me in my business.
"On Mondays we learn something" you'll hear me say every Monday (for the most part!) I love Mondays even more because of this. I look forward to staying in my pj's with my coffee as I tune in to a webinar or open up an online classroom. I love to learn and I honestly think this is why I have grown as quickly as I have. I have a deep yearning to understand my craft forwards and backwards. Sometimes its even learning something spiritual which keeps my fire lit or doing a challenge with a business coach. It shifts and changes depending on the program but I make an effort to learn something new every week. It keeps me interested and I always look forward to putting what I learn in to practice.
The afternoon, I am usually doing editing or working on marketing. 6pm - Landon will be home so I finish up and close down. Before I leave my office I write down what my focus is for the next day and tidy up my office.
On Tuesday I might have a morning shoot with an interior so my main focus besides that is emails and accounting. Strangely enough I enjoy the accounting sides of things. I think its because I like to know what is going on at all times. I update my ledgers, go over my expenses, and make sure my bills have been paid. I also double-check my accounting software for any outstanding items that need to be addressed.
Now Emails... this is a little controversial for some and I understand that. I had made a recent change this year inspired by Jenna Kutcher. I can't remember why I was emailing her, I think one of her emails pulled me in and I needed to respond. I immediately got this response that said she only checks her emails twice a week and that she would respond when she could. I was FLOORED. What boundaries! What a great way to educate your clients that you aren't always in the office and able to respond right away. "Why didn't I think of that?" At this point in my career I felt like crying every day because I just couldn't get my inbox empty for the life of me and it was making me miserable and feeling like a failure. It was sucking my energy dry and made it hard to focus on other tasks at hand. I would get anxiety every-time I heard my email notification went off. It was too much. So this is why I implemented the practice of responding to emails on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm *always* checking my emails but now I don't have a melt-down if I can't respond right away. If its emergent then of course I respond very aptly but for the most part- it can wait a day or two. I got my life back and I became a more efficient worker which my clients appreciate.
The afternoon, I am usually doing editing, booked a meeting with a client, or scouting. 6pm - I finish up and close down when Landon gets home, prep my journal for the list and events I have the next day and clean up my office. Landon and I also make scouting a date! We will hop on a bike and check places out together, grab a coffee, ice-cream or take Ella with us for a walk.
"We blog!!" I love writing and blogging and it's a huge piece of my business but also a big passion. I started blogging before I started my photography business. I grew up wanting to be a writer so photography and blogging go hand-in-hand for me. Sometimes I (admittedly) get off schedule but when I hop back on I am always so grateful.
So every Wednesday I show up and write, even if I am not in the mood. I get whatever is on my mind down on the screen and will even begin a few different draft ideas and save it for next week if I feel like I sound flat and not in to it. Currently I have 8 drafts sitting in the folder and I can always come back to them when I feel fired up about it. If not- I start a new one. I try to publish 1 or 2 a week but if I can't then I link to my work being featured elsewhere so I stay up to date and in sight.
I also have a "blog master list" that if I am really struggling I check out and see what things I have written down that I want to write about or big things that I feel like my clients are interested in. My masterlist is LONG and I am always adding to it.
Why blogging? It not only allows people to stay up to date with you and your work but its a sneak-peek in to your voice, personality, and allows for your clients to get to know you better. It allows you to attract the right clients and repel the ones who won't fit in with your style or personality. Repel sounds terrible but you don't want to work with everybody. What I want is for the right people to find the right photographer whether that is me or not. I'm bubbly, always excited, and use a lot of "!!" in my emails. That's not for everyone and that's ok! It's perfect really and blogging allows for those people to know that's part of my personality.
The afternoon, I am usually doing editing or taking Ella for a run. 6pm - I finish up and close down when Landon gets home, journal down the next day and tidy up before I close my office door.
See Tuesday! It's the same-thing. Interiors shoot, Emails, Invoicing, Editing, Meetings, Prepping my clients for the weekend.
Fri-yay! This is a flex day. I am usually editing or shooting but if most galleries have been sent I will take a half-day since usually I work on Saturdays. I take the afternoon off with friends, go to the dog park, sun-tan on my porch, read, go to a yoga class. Do whatever lights me up. Sometimes thats even just catching up on laundry and house-chores haha.
OFF or SHOOTING!
Family day. I made a big decision in January to keep my Sundays off unless Landon is out of town. This was huge because last summer I was booked with weddings and I felt like I never got to see Landon and enjoy the things we like to do like get out in nature together. It was hard and so I made a big decision to take off Sunday. This is our day to fully enjoy each others company, do a day-date, go hiking, skip town, have friends over for a BBQ, etc.
resources+ other things to consider
I think it's important to know that things get moved around and thats ok but I do my best to stick to the plan. I always schedule these things in to my week ahead of time so I know when I am booking my clients where my priorities are and how can I balance it all. This means that I do have a limit of how many people I can shoot per week. THIS IS IMPORTANT. I think a lot of photographer try to cram it all in at once out of fear of not being booked. I book months in advance and sure I could squeeze someone else in but I know that if I do that then I am sacrificing my personal time and it means my work-flow will be off. It's a domino effect and I learnt that the hard way and I don't feel like I can show up as my best self and produce my best work when I over schedule. Some photographers will shoot 6 clients a week and I just can't do that with my post-production load. I still edit all of my work and don't outsource. I love editing and still enjoy the process. Interiors takes a lot of time and so do weddings and these are my two main focuses and passion.
Other things: I naturally have a flow. Example: I wake up and read a book for 30-60 minutes, make coffee, and then make my way upstairs to my office to work. I have a mid-day break and take Ella to the park, go for a walk, a yoga class, or work out at home. I always tidy up my space before I close down and write out my top 3 things that have to get done. Before bed I write a gratitude journal. These things build up over time and are just part of my life and help me break up my days. They seem small but honestly they make me better and happier. I've also learnt that if I am being inefficient and procrastinating that I need to take a break and come back to the computer refreshed since I'll just beat myself up later for it. I also learnt not to book more than 2 evening meetings a week so that it doesn't interfere with my down-time with Landon. You learn as you go and you will find your own rhythm! My system may be a total nightmare for you so keep in mind to establish your own values and systems that work best for your work ethic and lifestyle.
Here are my favourite resources that keep me organized:
- Bullet Journal * The best!! I always mark my Top 3 things I need to get done that day. Keeps me focused on what needs to be done in the day, week, or month. See the video. It's seriously my secret weapon but... not so secret lol.
- Masterlist * My main master list is for the things I want to accomplish and get down in my "spare time" like new thank you cards, a promo video, etc.
- Blog Masterlist * For the days I am struggling hard.
- The Dream Job Planner * My Agenda / Number Keeper for Social Media Marketing
- Toggl * Records and keeps me focused on tasks at hand - great to see how long things take you to accomplish.
- Spotify * Jams to keep me in the flow
- Netflix * For editing - I'm so serious. I don't know why but if I have people talking in the background I stay focused on my editing a lot easier. I recommend not listening something you have never seen before. I don't think my accountant will allow me to expense it but its part of my flow haha
- Check-lists * I'm a nerd. I have a check-list for everything. Work-flows for editing, blogging, etc.
- Design Aglow Wall Organizer * Wedding Workflow Pt. 1
- Wave Accounting
- Dubsado * I'm still so new to it and learning it but I feel like its my next level up for an organizer that isn't an old school file-folder approach.
I hope this helps and inspires you!