The interesting/ironic thing about the busy season (i.e. that season that we all find ourselves in right now where we’re cranking out jobs left and right and can’t remember the last time we came up for air)….is that we get so busy feeling like we don’t have enough time in the day that we actually convince ourselves there are not enough hours to do the things that will SAVE us a ton of time over all. It’s like we feel like we can’t press pause long enough to do some of the “preparing” stuff we should be doing when all we can see in front of us is the “maintaining.” I am the worst at being guilty of this! When I get overwhelmed, the only thing I want to do is to put my head down and keep chipping away at the thing that’s right in front of me. I dig and dig and dig, and when I finally look up I realize that it could have all been done SO much faster… if I would have just stopped long enough to ask what’s slowing me down. So in the interest of helping us all work smarter not harder, here are 5 Things You Should be Doing Right NOW to Save Yourself a Ton of Time Overall!
1. Organize/Write/Update your email signatures. I’ve been writing out email signatures for years now. These are basically canned email responses to the emails that I get most often, so that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I write that email. In fact, if I ever find myself answering the same kind of email more than two or three times, I go ahead and make that a signature. The problem was that I had so many and they were in no kind of order, that I was wasting all this time trying to find something that was supposed to save me time. So this weekend, I took about an hour to get rid of signatures I don’t really need anymore, update the ones I do with the newest links/answers/etc, and to put them in a chronological order of when I usually need them grouped by clients, fellow photographers & publications. And if you REALLY want to bump your efficiency you could even start using a program like Text Expander where all you have to do is type a three letter code like “INQ” for your inquiry reply and it will automatically insert the whole email signature for you without you ever having to click out of the message! So smart! But the point is, most of us spend hours of every day drowning in email….when one focused hour of signature writing could save us all that time over all! And if you want to learn even more about how to get your inbox under control, you should definitely check out this Showit LIVE with Lukas & Suzy on maximizing your email efficiency!
2. Clean off your computer. This goes on two levels. First take some time to clean up your desktop. The clutter that collects there turns to mental clutter where you can never find what you need, and you just feel less productive. Take 10 minutes to clear it off and tell me you don’t instantly feel better! The second level is to take some time actually clearing off things from your hard drive. Upload personal/vacation photos to something offsite like PASS and onsite like an external hard drive and then clear them off your main computer. Delete old versions of programs you aren’t using. Get everything off of there that’s not absolutely necessary so that your computer will run a lot faster. Because it’s really hard to get caught up, if you are constantly waiting on your programs to play catch up!
3. Email Yourself Blog Ideas. As I’m going through my day or taking one of my many daily walks, blog ideas will often pop into my head. I’ll go ahead and email them to myself right then and I keep a running folder in my Mac Mail called “Blog Post Ideas.” Now anytime I need an idea for a Monday blog post (like this one for example!), I know exactly where to draw from and I never waste time trying to come up with something out of nothing!
4. Write out your entire workflow. I know, I know….who has time to write out your entire workflow start to finish when you’re already SO behind? But that’s the irony! Something about that workflow you’re currently using isn’t working which is why you’re behind in the first place. And instead of dealing with that, we just always try to play catch up. But as the poet laureate T.Swift taught us all, band aids don’t fix bullet holes. Staying up til 2am to get caught up is just a temporary fix….we need to deal with the root of the problem. And the only way to do that is to write out your whole workflow to get the “30,000 foot view” of it, so now you can look for ways to speed it up!
5. Clean Out/Organize your closet. I know, what on earth does that have to do with business? But the truth is…a lot. That’s because any kind of clutter in your life- whether it’s your closet or your desk or your to do list- it’s going to lead to mental clutter. And just ask yourself how much time you waste looking for that belt or the other shoe or the blazer that goes with that outfit. How many times do you have no idea what to wear because you can’t even really see all your clothes to know what you even have? How many times does the clean laundry pile up and eventually turn into a mess on the guest bed simply because there isn’t a place for everything? This weekend we also took the time to swap over our Summer clothes for our Fall/Winter ones and to clean out a bunch of drawers to make more space. We put together three bags of clothes to take to Goodwill, and we did all the laundry until we made sure that every single thing we own had a place. Now I know exactly where to find things, and there is never an excuse for letting things pile up because I know that we made room for it.
Normally, there would be this guilty voice in my head that says, “you can’t take time to update your email signatures or- heaven forbid- do your own laundry when there is all this other stuff to do.” But this weekend I silenced that voice. And I did the things that will help us move faster & be more efficient over all moving forward. And I already know that we’re going to get things done SO MUCH FASTER because of it.
So this week, give yourself permission to do the things that move you forward. Not just the ones that always keep you running behind.
Go rock it out!