(Intro with music)
(Intro with music)
Welcome to Keeping it Candid – Wedding Photography Unfiltered for photographers who want to keep it real. I’m your host, Sandra Henderson, international wedding and family photographer and educator with a Marie Kondo style approach to running a business – you know, keeping things simple and getting rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy!. More importantly, I’m a strong enneagram 3w2 who is obsessed with tacos, and my love for travelling is one of many things that drives my passion for all things systems, workflows, and beating burnout as a business owner. Join me twice a month for a candid, behind the scenes look at what it’s really like working as a wedding photographer – where I’ll give you actionable steps to take your business to the next level. Absolutely no fluff here, friends! So grab your favourite notebook and pen, and let’s dive into this week’s episode.
Do you ever feel like you’re running on a hamster wheel in your wedding photography business? Always busy, going through the motions day to day, but never actually getting anywhere? Your to-do list never gets any shorter, that day off you were waiting for never arrives, and you just don’t feel any closer to achieving your goals?
Does that sound familiar to anyone?
Friends, you are not alone! I’ve been there and I know so many other wedding photographers who can relate.
… but does it have to be this way?
A few years ago I started feeling a little desperate for some sort of order and routine in my day-to-day schedule. I’ve tried every time management system out there. They all have their pro’s and con’s, but in the end none of them suited my style of working. I was just about ready to give up and stick with my life on that hamster wheel, when I made one small change.
As a photography business owner, every day isn’t meant to be a day behind your camera – there’s a whole other side of your business that needs your attention to ensure your success. So, that’s what inspired me to dedicate Mondays every week to be my CEO Day.
I don’t book sessions, meetings, or appointments on Mondays. I take half the day to work on all of the backend tasks that NEED to get done in order to keep my business doors open. More specifically, admin work like reviewing my upcoming schedules and availability, and financials – like paying staff and bills, updating my bookkeeping records, and making sure I know exactly what’s coming in and going out of my accounts.
When that’s all done for the day, I close out my computer and take the rest of the day off. Especially during wedding season, this is a non-negotiable part of my schedule! Clients aren’t getting the best version of me when I’ve been working all week and weekend without taking any time off to rest and recover afterward.
All of a sudden, Mondays truly became my favourite day of the week. I genuinely look forward to the quiet time behind the scenes where I can make sure everything at Life is Beautiful Photography is running smoothly and it’s given me so much more confidence as a business owner because I know exactly what’s happening in every aspect of my business.
Even though it worked so well, it still wasn’t enough if I’m being honest. I really wanted that feeling of excitement for the day ahead to happen every day of the week – not just on Mondays.
My business coach recommended a book called Free To Focus by Michael Hyatt, and it opened up a whole world for me about how to organize the rest.
Each day of my week now has a theme, and I’m going to go through what each of those look like.
So, I already mentioned that Mondays are my CEO days.
Next up – Tuesdays are Development Days. I think investing in yourself through education and development is SO important as a wedding photographer regardless of how long you’ve been in the industry. So Tuesdays are a day where I do just that. I take courses, practice new techniques, and really pour into myself as a business owner.
Then, Wednesdays are Client Days – a day completely dedicated to client-facing work like editing, meetings, writing timelines, and of course, getting behind my camera!
Thursdays are Marketing Days, where I’m working on creating new graphics for social media, writing captions, blogging, planning new sales and promotions, and updating my website.
Then to wrap up the week, Fridays are Catch-up days! Let’s be real – just because I’ve dedicated time to something, doesn’t mean it’s always going to work out that way. Shit happens. So I leave my Fridays open to catch up on anything that I might have missed or not finished earlier in the week.
Another reason I’ve chosen to leave Friday as a catch-up day, is that I actually scale down throughout my entire week – kicking things off with the tasks that require the most energy and mental capacity – for me, that’s anything involving numbers! – and leaving design and creative tasks for later in the week. I’m intentionally giving myself time to re-energize before the weekend.
Saturdays from May to November are another client day! Like most photographers, I’m behind my camera almost every single Saturday. If I don’t have anything booked? I’ll do a bit of work in the morning before my husband and stepson wake up, and then take the rest of the day off – Saturdays with nothing going on are few and far between and I’m going to take full advantage of them when I can!
Last but not least, that brings us to Sundays. At least three of four Sundays per month, I don’t work in any capacity. No emails, no sessions, nothing.
Notice how I’m intentionally building time off into my schedule every week?
REST is so important and I don’t play when it comes to this! In the end, it doesn’t matter how well we plan or how organized we are, it’s never going to be sustainable if we aren’t making rest a priority.
The final piece of the puzzle that really made these themed days so successful for me, was realizing that just because the day has a theme, doesn’t mean I can’t work on anything else.
Yes, Mondays and Wednesdays are for admin and client work, but I’m still in my inbox responding to clients the rest of the week. And I’m not only taking photos on Wednesdays and no other day. It just means I’m focusing the bulk of my energy on the tasks of the day, and after those are done, I can work on anything else I want. It means I also have the time and capacity to worry about all the other things going on outside of work, too, like doctors appointments, grocery shopping, and watching my stepson’s baseball games.
If this kind of structure is speaking to your soul, you definitely want to check out that book I mentioned, Free To Focus by Michael Hyatt. It’s all about achieving more while doing less, and managing your time and energy while focusing on what’s most important.
My biggest takeaway was Michaels’ approach to choosing a “Big 3” each week – three tasks that are most important to complete, that will drive me towards achieving my goals and moving forward with my business.
Here’s what that looks like for me this week:
*Launch a new episode of Keeping It Candid
*Finish designing graphics for the rest of April’s content
*Deliver two client galleries
I still have that never-ending to-do list, don’t get me wrong, as a business owner there is literally always something else to do – but it’s now in a separate space within Asana, the task management system I use. I’m not staring at this overwhelmingly long list wondering where to start. Instead, I’m picking out the most relevant and needed tasks for the week. My daily to-do list never has more than 10 things on it, and I am actually getting things done and checking them off my list.
The act of physically checking these tasks off has a whole other benefit that has nothing at all to do with accomplishments and everything to do with personal health.
Each time you complete something and check it off a list, a small amount of serotonin is sent to your brain. Serotonin is one of those good chemicals our body naturally creates – it contributes to boosting your mood, helping you sleep better, and keeping your internal organs functioning the way they should be.
It’s literally good for your health AND your business to keep your to-do lists small and manageable so you can actually complete the things you need to do.
Pretty amazing, right?!
So with all those benefits in mind, here are a few quick tips for getting started with creating theme days in your week:
First, decide on any non-negotiables you have, like dates or events you don’t want to miss out on, and times that you will take off work.
Then, pick one day where you will no longer take on any sort of client work. Call it your CEO Day or Admin Day or even something clever to add a little bit of fun into the mix.
Then, lastly, start choosing your “Big 3” tasks each week. Not just three tasks that need to get done, but more importantly, three tasks that, when done, will get you that much closer to achieving your goals.
From there, fill in the blanks how you’d like! And remember, it’s not permanent. If you try it out and it’s not flowing the way you want it to, make some adjustments. I tried moving development days to Thursdays, and marketing to Tuesdays for a few weeks. All that ended up happening was I was adding more and more work onto my plate for Fridays when I had to catch up. It really wasn’t suiting my energy so, I switched back! There’s nothing wrong with trying things out.
That’s it, friends! That’s how easy it is to get started. And while you’re working away at creating your ideal workweek, don’t forget to join the Wedding Photography: Unfiltered Community on Facebook to get support from other wedding photographers just like you who are ready to take control of all of that chaos, too.
I can’t wait to see you there! I’ll be back again in two weeks with our next episode!
(Outro with music)
Thanks so much for listening to Keeping It Candid: Wedding Photography Unfiltered with Sandra Henderson! You can find full show notes from today’s episode at simplysandrayvonne.ca/keepingitcandid. In the meantime – let’s connect! You can find me on Instagram @simplysandrayvonne, and on Facebook in The Wedding Photography: Unfiltered Community! If you’re loving this podcast, I’d be so honoured if you’d go ahead and hit that subscribe button and leave me a review!
Until next time!