I don’t know about you, but when “wedding season” hits sometimes it’s all I can do to stay afloat and attempt to keep up with my wedding workflow. Forget about a lot of other things that I want to be accomplishing, there just isn’t time to work on all of those AND get the things done that I need to in order to be ready for each wedding, AND getting those images to clients. That’s how I felt for a long time (and sometimes still do) and so I would say, “I’ll have time to work on this goal after my last wedding for the year.” and I’d put it on the back-burner. But you know what happens when you do that with ALL of your goals? When the off-season comes, you’re overwhelmed with trying to figure out where to start for each of them, because you’ve pushed them all to the same time frame. So then that season becomes just as overwhelming as busy-season, even if in a different way, and you end up on a vicious cycle of never knowing when or how to really make progress on those goals. So, over the last few years, I’ve learned that yes, SOME things need to wait until I can devote more time and attention to them. But a LOT of things can be progressing throughout the year, even when I’m busiest. So today I wanted to share a few of the ways that I’ve discovered can really help with maintaining focus and attention on the things you really want to accomplish, both artistically and for your business.
(That moment when you’re on the phone with the bride while taking venue shots. Thanks to Bradley Roy for the image!)
1) Set monthly or weekly goals and make detailed to-do lists.
Maybe that’s a no-brainer. But it was a huge game-changer when I started making monthly goals for myself that were steps in working toward my year-long goals. I don’t accomplish them all every month (you know that if you ever read those posts – hah!). But it’s sure helpful to be able to look back on a few months and see how “hanging blinds in my office” and “ordering prints for my office” are coming together nicely to achieve the year-long goal of “finish decorating my office”. It allows you to see those steps of accomplishment along the way, and that’s huge for me!
2) Make time to evaluate what you want to be doing at this time next year, and anything you might need to change in order to achieve that.
If you’re in the middle of a crazy wedding season, but you’re not loving the weddings that you’re booking, stop now, while you’re in the MIDST of that feeling, and evaluate why that is. Maybe it’s time to raise prices. Maybe it’s time to tweak branding. Maybe it’s time to say no to certain types of venues. Whatever it is, the point is that sometimes those feelings fade once you make it through the season and you’re just happy you survived. So while you’re in the middle of it, take stock of how things are going and list a few ways they could be even BETTER at this time next year.
3) Know when (and what) to outsource.
I’m preaching to myself on this one. While I DID recently outsource my album design to Align (who has been totally awesome!) I still have yet to outsource my editing. I always start off the year thinking I’ll be able to handle it all on my own, but going back up to the previous point….I consequently always end up feeling REALLY backlogged with editing at this time each year. So, I think that’s something I need to take the step and do. But regardless of what part of your business you may need to let go of, realize that freeing up some of that extra time will allow you to focus on those other goals you’re wanting to achieve instead of adding to the excuse of “never having time”. I’ve also recently decided to hire an office assistant to come once a week and help manage tasks that take me away from the creative and client sides of my business, when I really don’t have to be the one doing them. (Like packaging client gifts, sorting receipts, going to the post office, etc!) This excites me so much, because it frees me up to keep dreaming up more goals and how to achieve them!
4) Brainstorm and share your goals/dreams with others as a sounding board – they might just have great advice on how to best achieve it!
I recently shared the concept of one of the ways I want to branch out in what I shoot with one of my friends – who is a fellow creative, though not a photographer – and not only was she a great sounding board, but it turns out she had a business goal of her own that will pair PERFECTLY with mine. When you come together with others and share your ideas, you might just find that it will create an amazing opportunity for you both to achieve things together! Which is really the best, in my opinion. If I can reach one of my artistic or business goals while also helping a friend and fellow small-business owner do the same, I’m golden.
5) Don’t be deterred by failure.
So maybe you tried making progress on something and it didn’t work out as planned. You’re still in the middle of the busy season, and you don’t have the heart (or energy) to try it again. That’s ok. Some things will not work out the first (or even second or third!) time that you try it. But don’t let that cause you to give up! I’ve had a goal for the past like 3 years that just hasn’t worked out like I want it to, yet. That doesn’t mean I can it and give up. It means that each year I think a little more strategically about it, and how I can be working to better ready myself to accomplish it. So if something fails take note of why, and make notes to approach it differently next time. Then tuck it away for a while and don’t allow it to steal your joy or make you stop working towards all of your other goals!
I know this is somewhat of a complex issue, and someone else’s list on the same topic might be different. But these few points have helped free me up a lot both in my actions and my thinking and have kept me dreaming and planning throughout the busy season instead of just putting it all off for when I’m “not busy” (because that never really happens). So if anyone else out there is struggling to just make it through this time of year, I hope this will inspire you to feel like you can keep dreaming up and accomplishing goals along the way!