Time Management is a hard thing- true struggle for most small business owners. While at photography conferences these past two years, I have had the privilege of listening to some of the greats in the industry explain how they learned to manage their time, how they failed at managing their time, and what improvements they made in their business life to get more of their PERSONAL life back.
Everyone of them had their own way. Own tools. Own methods. Some learned from speakers before them, others created tools for their own personal benefit.
Trevor Dayley, a wise man, dedicated server, amazing photographer and even better friend, actually dedicated an entire speech on how to live a RICH life. One that isn’t consumed by our businesses.
A LIFE THAT DOESN’T MAKE US CHOOSE BETWEEN OUR PERSONAL LIVES & BUSINESS; BUT RATHER, COINCIDES WITH THEM BOTH.
I promised that because I was given this gift of opportunity to attend multiple conferences and learn from so many of my peers that I would always share with others in hopes that they too can take away what they need, and in turn, pay it forward to others.
Trevor went over quite a few tools, but I wanted to go over two that impacted how I manage my time in my business, and may help you better manage yours as well. As photographers who are also parents in particular, we are given a special challenge; to raise our children and give them a full and rich life. Oh, AND run a successful business that allows us the abilities to provide our children with a rich life. Phew! No easy task.
We all fall victim to, “Just one minute…I’ll be right there. Once second, almost done.” We let these words slip from our lips without even thinking because we are so engrossed in what we are doing. More times than I would like to admit I have told my kids those very words, and regrettably, an hour later I stand up, not realizing how much precious time has passed me by. Regret. It’s the first feeling that washes over me. How could what I was doing for OVER AN hour keep me THAT distracted that I LOST an hour of time when I told my children I would be right there in ONE minute?!!? I failed. I instantly failed at my most important job; being a mother.
I get angry, mad, sad and frustrated when I am pulled away the minute I sit down or start a new project, email, etc. But what is funny about this is that after I spend hours and hours on one task, it’s still nowhere near completion. I allowed myself to be distracted. Facebook, pointless internet surfing, chatting with friends, staring into space. You name it.
[pullquote]I was not distracted with my number one responsibilities as a mom, but I WAS distracted with Facebook, phone chats, internet shopping and more. In essence I just chose shopping and twittering and Pinteresting and social media over my BUSINESS ANNNNND MY CHILDREN! FAIL![/pullquote]
Trevor mentioned a technique he uses called the POMODORO TECHNIQUE.
What the heck is that? Believe me, I asked the same question, but boy oh boy I am glad I did. This technique states that you should have 25 minutes of focused work, 5 minute break, repeat…after 4 rotations, take an hour break. At first, I rejected the thought of starting, stopping, starting , stopping, stepping away and fearing that I would become unfocused or unmotivated. Interestingly enough, it became a game. I set my phone to be stop watch. It was as if I was timing myself during those 25 minutes to get as much done as possible. If I was writing a blog, I never left the page. I didn’t take my fingers off the keys. I didn’t answer the phone, glance at the T.V. or sign along to Pandora. I shut out everything and anything but the task at hand, and HOLY MOLEY!
[pullquote]I got 3 blog posts written in the time it used to take me 3 HOURS! I just got back 2+ hours of my life to better serve my children by PUTTING IN 25 MINUTES OF 100% FOCUSED WORK! AH-MAZING.[/pullquote]
For my five minute break I grabbed a coffee, muffin, used the potty (yes I say potty, I have kids! lol) and sat back down. I reset my stop watch, and I think I literally took a three second break to sip my coffee and left my muffin untouched! It was exciting and thrilling to see how much I could really get done knowing that once I was done, I could use my extra time to be with my husband, kids, clean the house, or maybe think about making a dinner that doesn’t come out of a take out bag or pizza delivery box.
I encourage you to try it. It feels so silly, but give it a week. If it is doesn’t change your life, if it doesn’t work for you, that’s ok. Take the chance to find what DOES and CAN work for you and your life, both business and personal wise. Trial and error, its the best place to start.
Another technique/tip Trevor shared with us is called IFTTT!
“If this, than that!” Yes—its really simple as that. As human beings we always love to be rewarded. Right?
We like to save the best for last.
We like to do what we have to do, be done with it, and get to enjoying ourselves.
[pullquote]So, IF YOU FIRST ANSWER YOUR EMAILS, THEN YOU GET TO PLAY A FAMILY BOARD GAME. IF YOU FIRST EDIT THE SESSION, THEN TONIGHT YOU CAN GO TO THE STATE FAIR WITH YOUR FAMILY.[/pullquote]
This not only helps with time management, it really helps you prioritize. It helps you focus on what’s most important to get done so you can do something you realllly want to do. So for me, right this moment, if first I write this blog post and 4 others for the week, then I can spend the next half of the day off! COMPLETELY OFF. From there, my freedoms and possibilities are endless…and as a mom, I LOVE THAT!
These techniques are simple. They are different. They may or may not work for you, but as long as you try anything and everything you can to get your time back! It’s time to live a life that is richer, both in terms of your thriving business and personal love. I guarantee anything that attempts to get your time back is worth the try.
So to answer your question…how do you do it all? How do you find the time?
My answer is simple- you don’t find it…YOU MAKE IT!
Hope this helps you get your precious moments back! Thank you for the advice Trevor Dayley.
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