Hi Guys and welcome to Part 2 of our Photography Business, Life + Balance 3 Part Series. This part is Creative Thinking for Weekly Schedules. If you missed out, you can read Part One here: PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS, LIFE + BALANCE: WHY YOUR “TO DO” LIST IS HURTING YOU .
Ok, so once Brandon and I had our game plan of creating and following a weekly schedule we were stoked to finally be getting tasks accomplished, have a plan of action and to be moving our business forward. However, we still kinda felt like there was just not enough hours in a day to get everything done. We still found it a little difficult to wok-in enough unrestricted time. For a few weeks we struggled with, what are we doing wrong and what can we delegate out. And then it clicked!
We were spending way to much time on getting ready everyday and driving in the car!
If we think about it, any time we leave the house we have to “get ready”. And for a Brandon that could be 15 mins but for me it is at least 45min to an hour. Then we factor in our drive time from place to place which for us is 20 min to go anywhere since we live on top of a mountain. And if we lived in the city, it could take us 20 min to go 3 blocks. We have all been there. So if we can consolidate that getting ready time and drive time by creatively scheduling our week, then we have more unrestricted time and more quality free time!! Happy Dance.
As photographers our schedules need to be flexible because things like the example below happen. Let me know if they sound familiar.
- Some days we wake up in the morning and pull up the weather forecast, because we have an evening engagement shoot, however what was supposed to be a gorgeous sunny day yesterday now calls for massive rain storms all day, so the engagement shoot we had planed for the evening needs to be rescheduled.
- Or it is a gorgeous beautiful day with only a 10% chance of rain. We arrive on our location for an engagement shoot and so do our clients. The sky is clear and the weather looks perfect. We start shooting. Then 30 mins into our shoot a “pop up shower” forms right over us and it pours! Yes, this has happened and it is never fun!!
- We have also had things of this nature happen. On a Tuesday, we will get a call for an elopement that is happing on Friday which is typical for an elopement. After all, the premise of an elopement is that it is quick, off the cuff and somewhat spontaneous. However we may also get a call later that Tuesday from a client who just got word that they have to go out of town for work and would love to move their engagement session to this Friday as well.
- Ok now lets throw personal life into the equation since we are talking about balance. So that same Tuesday we get a call from Brandon’s sister who lives an hour from us and she wants to have the whole family over for dinner that same Friday we have everything else going on.
- And just for fun, because this has all happened to us, we just so happen to have the Saturday free (no wedding booked) and we want to take our cameras in for a “tune up.”
Can you feel the stress? So now what!
This is when it all clicked for us. I needed to creatively think about how to get all this accomplished on the same weekend with most of it being on Friday. And just to make it a little more stressful this all happened to us during the winter so the sun was setting right at 5pm. It was time to change our way of thinking.
This is what we did. Our way to Creative Thinking for weekly Schedules.
I called our clients who wanted to elope to find out what time they had in mind. Their reply was, “We would love to do it earlier than later because we are planning on driving cross country right afterwords. Say 11am?”. And I know as a photographer you are cringing at 11am because light is so harsh at that time. We get it. But this is where we as the photographers explain the beauty of natural light and when it is the most gorgeous. After we explained that sunrise lighting is so much more beautiful than mid afternoon light + how romantic it would be to get married at sun rise our couple was totally on board. Not to mention in the winter sunrise is pretty late about 7:30am. So we booked their elopement for 7:45am at a gorgeous water fall.
Next I called our clients who wanted to move their engagement shoot to Friday as well. Since sunset was at 5pm we scheduled them for a 3pm engagement on Friday ending by 4pm.
Now moving on to having dinner with the family. I called Brandon’s sister and told her we could make it to her house by 6pm that evening for dinner. She was ecstatic. We also asked if we could stay the night – do a movie night and then hang out all day Saturday. She was on cloud 9, we were actually getting in quality family time. And to top it all off, we called our camera guy and asked him if we could drop off our cameras about 5pm and leave them with him till Saturday evening and pick them up about 4pm. He was on board. Oh and we also did some grocery shopping after we got our cameras.
Basically what we did was creatively think about how to fit all our “out of the office tasks” into one day. And now we do this all the time.
Our schedule looked kind of like this for that day:
6 am – wake up
6:05 am – shower and get ready
6:45 am – eat breakfast
7:13 am – head to elopement location
7:30 am – arrive at location
7:45 am – our couple arrives for their elopement
7:50 – 9:50 am – document elopement
10 am – head home
10:30 am – workout
11:45 am – morning prayer
12:15 pm – lunch
12:45 pm – upload and edit photos
2:00 pm – repack for engagement shoot
2:15 pm – head to engagement shoot location
2:45 pm – arrive at engagement shoot location
3:00 pm – our couple arrives and shoot begins
4:00 pm – upload photos to laptop so we have 2 backups
4:15 pm – head to camera repair shop
4:50 pm – arrive at camera shop, chat for a while with our camera guy
5:15 pm – Head to sister’s house for dinner
5:45 pm – arrive for dinner and hang out with family (quality family and relaxing time)
Saturday Schedule looked like this
relax all day with family till 3:00pm
3:15 pm – go pick up cameras
4:00 pm – arrive at camera shop
4:15 pm – drive home
And because it was a free Saturday we stopped and got groceries on the way home and then enjoyed dinner and a sunset on our front deck. Everything got done with just a little creative thinking. And from then on going forward we learned to creatively think about our week and how we can combine a work/life balance by packing a few days full so we have more in office + free time the rest of the week.
One More Example
I know this can sound confusing so lets look at one more example, this one made up. Lets say we looked at our week and we needed to schedule in going grocery shopping, shooting an engagement + a family shoot + an in home newborn shoot, our niece had a play that week and we needed to send out an album at the post office.
What we would do is look at the day of our niece’s play (since that schedule is not in our control). Lets say it is a Thursday at 7pm. With day and time set we would then try to work in as many other things around it that also requires us to be dressed well, out of the office and on the road. I say dressed well because lets be honest… some of our days are spent editing in workout clothes. Can I get an amen? :)
With the play on a Thursday and knowing that newborn in home shoots are best shot in the morning, we would schedule that shoot for Thursday morning about 9am. Following that shoot we would run to the post office and mail out the album. That would be followed by heading to the grocery store and any other “out of office tasks” that may have come up that week. If sunset is an hour before the play at 7 (this will depend on what season it is obviously) we would schedule either the engagement shoot or the family shoot that Thursday evening before the play. Then head to the play. So in one day we would get 90% of our “out of office tasks” completed. Our engagement shoot we would schedule for another day.
THE “WHY” RECAP
Because the “why” is so important! The reason we do this is because if we think about it, any time we leave the house we have to “get ready”. Getting ready for Brandon is 15 mins, for me its 45min to an hour. Then drive time from place to place for us: 20 min. So if we can consolidate that getting ready time and drive time by creatively scheduling our week then we have more unrestricted time and more quality free time!! Happy Dance.
If you would like more on this let us know. If you would like us to do a Q+A live on this topic we can do that as well. Just comment below if you are interested in that.