October 18, 2012

Guest Blog: Katelyn James on Getting Stuff Done

**How much do I LOVE this girl?? Last week I referenced Katelyn’s “Big List” and how it’s rocking my world. Today we are SO lucky to have the amazing Katelyn James herself here to tell you all about it!

Let me start by saying that if you’re reading this and you frequent this blog often, you are in the right place!! I have learned so much from this incredible duo throughout my last four years in business and I’m SO grateful for their giving hearts! I’ve watched their every move (it’s not as creepy as it sounds) the last several years in hopes that if I adopt some of their business ideas and strategies, my business would grow… and it has…. Tremendously. Again, I’m grateful. Justin and Mary have been a huge part of my growth and I consider them role models in the industry. Now that you know how much I adore them, you can imagine my SHOCK when Mary asked me to write about this topic!! What an honor!! I’m so excited to be here!

Mary and I attended the Pursuit 31 conference together a few weeks ago and I had the privilege of teaching an Office Management class. I had originally thought to myself “goodness, 45 minutes of JUST office talk?! How boring!” Well, it turns out that there is actually A LOT to talk about when it comes to running a well organized office. I spoke about everything from to-do lists to file folders to client galleries and I STILL ran out of time!

The comforting aspect about that seminar was that I realized I’m not the only one that struggles with getting stuff DONE! As small business owners, we have to have a plan of attack when it comes to the nitty gritty details of our business!! Our to-do lists are never ending, we’re always running out of time and if you’re like I was last year, I felt like I was dropping the ball left and right. I realized a year ago that I needed a system. Actually, I needed MANY systems to keep my business flowing. I’m a one woman show. I don’t have interns or assistants or office managers… I wear all of those hats and so I had to come up with a game plan!
After making a detailed list of everything that I didn’t do well in 2011, I found that I had 3 areas that really needed some help! Here were my problem areas:

1. Multiple basic tasks were being forgotten on a monthly basis
2. My post processing was delayed because of my lack of motivation to cull images.
3. I lacked an effective “To-do” list strategy

These all seem like such SIMPLE issues. However, these 3 simple issues were becoming detrimental to my business and I needed a solution! I needed to be able to crank out jobs, stay on top of my monthly tasks and have a To-Do list that kept me straight on a daily basis! This is what I came up with:

1. Monthly Duty Days
Every month I was struggling to keep up with the following: Paying the mortgage on time, filing sales tax, mailing client gifts, blogging my monthly goals, keeping a blog calendar, etc. I also realized that there were things that I DREADED when it came to the end of the year. Mileage logs and expense records had become the death of me!! I realized it would be much easier if I tackled these duties month by month instead of once at the end of the year. So, I created MONTHLY DUTY DAYS. This sounds so elementary but it works! On the first of EVERY month, I set aside 2 hours to do the following:

– File sales tax
– Log the previous month’s mileage
– Record and categorize expenses from the previous month
– Mail client gifts for the upcoming month
– Blog a “Goals” post for the new month
– Create a blog calendar for the upcoming month and schedule posts
– Pay the mortgage
– Give my puppy his heartworm pill
– Pay off the credit card

If I’m having a good day, these items can all be accomplished in two hours or so. Not bad considering all that you’re accomplishing. My Monthly Duty Days allow me to start each month off on a great foot!!

2. Cull during imports
I was really struggling with being motivated to cull my images after they had imported. I really didn’t think their was a “fix” for this but then I realized why I wasn’t motivated! I didn’t want to cull and scan back through these images because I had already seen them once as they were importing! So they weren’t exciting anymore! So, this was my solution to the problem, I started culling WHILE the images were importing. I started staying engaged during the culling process because I hadn’t seen my shots yet! I was eager to see what I captured and so I trained myself to cull while I viewed my images for the first time! Simple fix? Yes! But it works!

3. The “Big List”
This is going to sound crazy but I spent weeks, maybe even MONTHS trying to fall in love with multiple personal organization APPS on my iPhone! I thought, “Katelyn, it’s the 21st century, you should keep your to-do lists on your phone, afterall, you PAID for these APPS!”. Well, months went by and my to-do list was a disaster! I finally realized that a good ol’ notebook was all I really needed! I bought a plain, spiral notebook and I started making “The Big List”. Basically, I have an on going master list of everything that needs to be done within my business. I list everything from the MASSIVE projects to the single emails I need to send. Everything I need to accomplish is on that list. However, I can’t accomplish the whole list in one day and so I place a post-it note on top of the big list and I write out what I could realistically accomplish THAT day. Once the day is over, I mark off what I accomplished from the master list and I throw that day’s post-it note away. I love this because not only do I have a master list of all that needs to be done, I keep every list so now I can look back and see ALL that has already been accomplished the year as well!

I realize these are such elementary solutions to my office management issues. However, what matters is they work and I’m constantly accomplishing tasks because of them!! You can read more about my other office organization solutions HERE! I hope this was helpful and here’s to an organized, efficient office where STUFF GETS DONE!!!

***Katelyn is a phenomenal photographer, blogger, speaker and industry leader based out of Richmond, VA. If you guys aren’t following her yet, you seriously have to get on that! :) She is ahhh-mazing!

  1. sharon elizabeth

    culling advice — seriously works!!!! i had to do the sameeee thing!!! so excited to see you over here today Katelyn!!!

    love ya K, J and M!!!!

  2. Deborah Zoe

    Must be that red head gene…we sure do love our organization! great post Katelyn and you offered some great advice!:)

  3. Melissa Manzione

    LOVE this post. I too use "the big list" strategy and it’s working wonders for my productivity! I learned it from the ever fabulous Lara Casey and Emily Ley at MTH 2012!

  4. Nancy Barnhart

    What a GREAT idea to have a guest blogger! AND what great ideas she has to share. THANKS SO MUCH!

  5. Katie

    Oh my goodness! This was JUST what I needed to hear coming up on end of year tasks! Thank you so much Katelyn (and J&M!) for sharing these tips.

  6. Megan

    Thank you for the great tips!! I also used the big list with post-it notes and it has helped keep me sane! Not only with photography, but with lots of different areas. I also put the repeating monthly to-dos right on my calendar so I don’t forget, even the heartworm and tick prevention for the dog!

  7. Eryn Kesler

    I think this blog post just changed my life.
    I’ve been following Katelyns blog for about 2 years now…It’s on my daily stop list. There’s only 3 on that list…J&M, KJ, and J*…and I love you all to bits.
    xoxo Katelyn!! I’m so excited to have a reason to go buy a cute new Martha Stewart notebook and post its (Martha’s office supplies are my faves!)

  8. Christy Tyler

    Katelyn’s motivation and productiveness is always SO INSPIRING to me! I always wonder how she does it! It is awesome to get a little glimpse into how she keeps things rolling in her office! I love the idea of a big list/post-it list. I think I need to start implementing this! :) Thanks for sharing!

  9. Katie Jane

    I really really needed to read this today. Thank you!

  10. Jeanne Mitchum

    This is SUPER helpful, I have done the same thing…searching for the perfecr app. I think all I need is a good old fashioned notebook as well. Thanks!!!

  11. Abby Grace

    I needed this kick in the butt! Thanks, Katelyn!

  12. Rosa

    This Big List suggestion is great.. I can already see it working! :)

  13. Lydia

    Katelyn, this is SO helpful!! I create lists right now, but I can see how great it would be to have one notebook to rule them all!

  14. Jill Powers

    HOLLLLA! Love me KJP! Great tips!

  15. Faye Bernoulli

    The best web app I’ve found is TeuxDeux. It has a weekly/daily view for those daily to-dos, but it also has a "Someday" section for those Big List items. And, if you don’t cross off a daily to-do, it automatically moves it over to the next day so you don’t forget!

  16. Kari Jeanne

    Love this!! I am an organizational NUT and love hearing about what others are doing and finding ways I can improve :)

  17. ashley barnett

    Yaay Katelyn! Loving the "big list" idea!

  18. Cassandra

    Soo helpful!!! Culling while I import-brillantly simple solution. You just made me get excited about organization…never thought that would have happened, ever!

  19. Amanda tonagel

    I have been following all three of you for a few years and I love all of your work and posts. Keep up the great work!!!!
    amanda

  20. Annamarie

    Dear Justin & Mary…Today I died of excitement when I opened this post because I took that picture of Katelyn in my coaching session with her and you thought it was good enough to put on your blog! Ahhhh..thank you for making my day!!! :)..haha…You guys are awesome and I am so thankful for everything I’ve learned from reading your blog! And yayy Katelyn! This post was so helpful!

  21. Victoria

    I’m not a photog, but I have a job (actually, a LIFE!) that requires this kind of organization. It seems that I have all these great ideas, but not the motivation! Thanks for the tips to break it all down :) certainly less overwhelming!

  22. Mark Andrew

    GTD powers my productivity. Best software of all time for GTD is Things which I use on my Macbook Pro and MacPro using shared database on Dropbox and cloud syncing with the apps on the iPad and iPhone so all my tasks and projects are always up to date with same information across all my devices

  23. Suzy VanDyke

    You both are amazing :) :)

  24. Rici

    Thank you Katelyn so very much for sharing more of your everday life! Will try the big list, small post it´s thing! :)

  25. Anila

    I am big fan of your photography Katelyn. Best of luck.

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