Today's guest blogger is Luke Clum, a Seattle based graphic designer, developer and photographer. He's an outdoorsman, loves alpine climbing and is crazy about earl grey tea. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum.
Maintaining a productive photography business requires juggling tasks and activities involved in both business and creativity. It can often be difficult to switch back and forth between these modes without wasting valuable time. The best solution for becoming more productive is time management. Here are some guidelines to help you optimize your time.
An assignment dashboard helps organize your tasks into time blocks so that you can avoid wasting time deciding what to do next. Plug all of your tasks – both business and creative – into a daily list. Enter your assignments vertically and your progress horizontally so that you can check off the parts you've finished, as well as see what comes next.
Another way to use your time efficiently is to create communication guidelines with your clients. Delegate certain times solely for responding to calls and emails. It can be tempting to immediately respond when an email pops up or your phone rings, but constantly pausing your work progress is counterproductive.
Creative types know that there are only so many times throughout the day that inspiration really flows. Photography also has prime shooting times based on weather, lighting, etc., so it's important to prioritize these hours. Control your own time by staying focused during prime creative windows.
One thing you can do to put your mind at ease during those times of unavailability is create an email/voicemail auto response, letting your clients know when you will be available.
If you're still having trouble ignoring calls during creative time segments, various apps can help enforce your schedule.
1) RescueTime: This app monitors the programs you access in any period of time, so you can get a picture of how much time you're wasting. If this isn't enough to keep you on task, set RescueTime to Focus Mode. This allows you to preset a period of time that you want to get work done, and dictate which programs the app will block during that time.
2) Coffee Break: If you're a photographer who gets immersed in your work for hours at a time without realizing it, this app reminds you at scheduled times to take a short break. By alerting you and dimming your computer screen, it helps you develop a balanced routine of productivity and rest.
If you find yourself lacking ideas, there are inspirational resources you use to help get your creative juices flowing again. A great way to elicit creativity is to search images on a visual based photo site, which provides tons of eye candy to inspire you.
On the other hand, if you've ever had an idea come to you and then vanish from your memory, you can create a photo inspiration lightbox to group and save your ideas.
After taking all this into consideration, remember that the key to being truly productive is to produce something.
All photos via Shutterstock