In my last blog post here, I mentioned a quick tip that will help with the busy season stress that you might be experiencing right now:
The tip is that while you’re in the middle of the shooting-editing-delivering cycle of busy season, create a list where you can quickly write down the changes and updates that you want to make to your workflows during the off-season.
And this got me thinking – what are some of the other super simple productivity habits that have helped me manage our busy wedding seasons and minimize my stress?
Well, what I’ve discovered over ten years of shooting and running multiple businesses is that productivity is more about your MINDSET than anything else.
[clickToTweet tweet=”After 10 yrs of business, I’ve learned that productivity is more about MINDSET than anything else.” quote=”After ten years of business, I’ve learned that productivity is more about your MINDSET than anything else.”]
Yes, there are loads of workflow hacks and apps and outsourcing methods that will help you save time and get more done… and I’m all about workflow hacks!
But honestly, when you’re a part-timer and you have to deliver three weddings and two portrait sessions by the end of the month, now is NOT the time to try out a brand new workflow trick.
Right now (the height of wedding season) is all about the right MINDSET HABITS.
I am my best self and I get more work done when my mind is in the right place, and I can stay focused on a few simple daily habits.
So here’s my five best productivity mindset habits that have seriously helped me minimize the stress of busy wedding season so that I can enjoy the process instead of just get through it.
Mindset Shift #1: Implement Daily Wins
I am an A-Type achiever personality, and I realized at the beginning of this year that if I begin my day with a few small WINS, then I am more energized and motivated to tackle my work for the day.
What are those small wins?
They’re not what you think.
My wins are NOT:
- Empty my inbox
- Write a blog post
- Organize my to-do list
- Deliver a wedding
Those tasks are somewhat difficult to complete, and they require energy and discipline. They require my best self to be engaged and motivated.
So to start my day off feeling like I’ve already achieved something important, my first daily wins are:
- Get up and make the bed
- Start the coffee
- Clean the litterbox for Gracie-the-cat while the coffee is brewing
- Make breakfast
- Sit down with my breakfast and coffee to have at least ten minutes of quiet prayer time in the kitchen
- Get dressed and ready (hair, makeup, etc) while listening to the news
- Don’t look at my email (or anything work-related) until I sit down at my desk
If I complete these wins in the morning, I’ve already achieved SEVEN things on my ‘list’ before I’ve even sat down to work!
Now, every one of my mornings isn’t perfect. Sometimes, I have early meetings or I’m sluggish or we had a late midnight flight or a shoot the day before.
But no matter what the day looks like, my goal is to complete as many of these wins as possible when I start my day.
And the good news is that I can do the first three wins really easily! So the majority of the time I can have at least three wins (and up to seven) to help me start my day.
So what are YOUR daily wins?
What are three to five really small, achievable wins during your day that will give you the motivation to tackle your work?
It can be as simple as tidying up your desk before you start working. Or taking out the recycling. Or walking the dog for five minutes. Or getting the kids to school.
This mindset shift has helped me realize that I don’t need to be conquering the world to have a successful day.
For me, if I view these small daily tasks as little victories, it simply helps me feel good and that’s a big deal sometimes!
But when I didn’t see these small tasks as wins, they just felt like frustrating barriers that kept me from doing my important work.
Mindset Shift #2: Compartmentalize Your Time
The second mindset shift that helped me tremendously with managing my workload has been to create compartments or buckets with my time.
I learned about Tiger Time from Amy Porterfield in this podcast episode earlier this year, and I highly recommend listening to it!
She sets aside her morning hours for what she calls Tiger Time – time that is specifically meant for important work like writing, dreaming, and content creation – and it’s time that she fiercely protects like a tiger protecting her cave. (Get it? I love it!)
So I’ve been implementing this strategy this year and IT’S BEEN AMAZING.
I never would have been able to completely re-build and launch our Discover Your Ideal Client master course (on top of shooting and running our studios) if it wasn’t for being really strict about my Tiger Time!
So now my day is broken up into big buckets like this:
8:30-1:00: Important Work
My mornings are for things that I believe are part of my important work, like creating content (this very blog post was written during this time), developing our courses or podcast episodes, and educating myself.
I start my important work by reading other blog posts, listening to podcasts, or getting inspired by authors and educators that I love. I’ve found that I’m much more effective in my content creation if I inspire myself first!
1:30-3:00: Admin Tasks
My early afternoons are for my email inbox, phone calls, and workflow tasks in Tave – like delivering a wedding to a client or creating a photography schedule for an upcoming wedding.
3:00-5:00: Studio Projects
The second half of my afternoon is for moving studio projects forward (like redoing our client gifts or updating a workflow system).
I also like to reserve this time for meetings such as coaching calls, client meetings, and investing in my employees.
5:00: Review & Prep for the Next Day
I talk about these two final tasks of the day in Mindset Shifts #3 and #4!
So when I create my to-do list, I drop my tasks into these different time buckets based on their category: Important Work, Admin Work, or Studio Project.
It’s also helped me understand exactly how much I can get done in one day… and how much I simply can’t!
So think about how you can compartmentalize your time – what are YOUR buckets in your business?
My buckets will look different than yours because we have a studio with employees, no kids, and we’re doing this full-time. So right now, do you need to create some Tiger Time for editing and post-production?
Do you need to create a bucket of time each day for social media, blogging, and marketing?
If you think about your tasks in terms of compartments and buckets, you can plan when and how you’re going to get your work done.
This means you can fully focus on the current task at hand and not worry about that other looming task because you know when it will get done and how.
Mindset Shift #3: Review Your Day
At the end of every day, I have two recurring tasks that appear in my Asana for 5:00pm.
(You NEED to use Asana for managing projects and daily to-do lists. We love it and it’s FREE!)
One of my daily tasks is to review the items that I got done that day and to celebrate my wins. (I’m all about wins, can you tell?)
At the end of a long hard day, I love being able to see what I accomplished!
It gives me an energy boost and helps me feel good about shutting my laptop and closing the office door for the night, instead of letting the list control my thoughts for the rest of my evening.
It’s such a simple thing, but reviewing what I do well has had a big impact on my mental health!
Mindset Shift #4: Prep Your List for the Next Day
My second daily task for 5pm is to prepare my Asana tasks and organize my buckets for the NEXT day.
That way, when I sit down to work the next morning, I’m not immediately overwhelmed by having to decide what’s important. I’ve already thought about it!
And when other tasks inevitably come up throughout the day, I can drop them into the right buckets for that day or put them in a bucket for an upcoming day.
This helps me stay focused on one thing at a time instead of trying to keep all of it in my head… or worse, bouncing back and forth between tasks because I can’t get focused!
Also, on Mondays, I don’t actually set aside Tiger Time. I use Monday mornings to plan my content creation for the rest of the week, so I know what I’m going to do and when.
Plus, we have our weekly production and sales meetings at our studio on Monday mornings, so it’s a time to think about the upcoming week and plan our production schedule and sales goals.
Mindset Shift #5: Operate in the WHY.
I wrote about this here too, but this has been a HUGE mindset shift for me in the past number of years.
While running a photography studio with three different brands, I can easily get sucked into the WHAT of our business!!
I get pulled in a thousand different directions with everyone needing my time and energy – from clients to employees to photographers to my husband to my friends.
But this only becomes a problem when I let myself be consumed with the WHAT – the images, the shoots, the revenue goals, the day-to-day fires and problems.
But when I actively operate out of our WHY, then I can view our WHAT (our workload) as a thing that is outside of myself.
And while I can’t control our workload completely, I can at least have control over my response and my attitude towards the what.
And remembering our WHY is what brings so much joy to our business. It’s gives me the perspective and motivation I need to enjoy the busy season instead of just get through it.
Now, I’m not perfect at all, and sometimes this schedule gets completely torn apart – especially when we’re traveling. But it’s given me a really powerful structure in which to operate.
And most importantly, this structure has given me the PERMISSION I need to focus on my important work.
So what are YOUR wins? What are YOUR buckets? How can you celebrate your achievements on a daily basis and motivate yourself to enjoy the process?
Think about your current mindset when it comes to your work, and I encourage you to start implementing some of these simple habits into your unique business!