If you are like most photographers, you can relate to the feeling of wanting someone to tell you exactly what to do next. The minute you finish a task you want to get on with the next one, but lots of urgent (and not so urgent) work is screaming to you to get done, and suddenly you feel paralyzed and thoughts start to crowd your brain (and your judgment):
- "What is the most important thing right now?"
- "can I leave that client waiting for a little longer in favor of some marketing tasks?
- "did I already reply to that lead?"
- "I need to focus on the tasks that move the needle!"
- "self-care is important too, I haven't been outside today yet, or lunched, or pied..."
- "Okay, this is taking way too long, I need a strategy, so I don't have to think about these things so hard, let's Google 'photography business strategy'."
LOL, sounds familiar? Or is it just me?
Having many responsibilities in your business, with each generating reactive and proactive tasks it can be hard to focus on the things that you want to get done.
Knowing your priorities and prioritizing your tasks WILL give you focus, so you can stop thinking about what to do and just start executing. Luckily, prioritizing is a skill that can be learned!
I like the basic principle of the Eisenhower matrix to prioritize tasks.
The Eisenhower matrix divides tasks and responsibilities into four groups, see image.
You can see that the tasks that you want to focus on are the tasks in the sections 1 and 2.
However, you always want to be critical of your tasks. Sales & Marketing is a big category, but within that category, different tasks will have different contributions to the growth of your company.
Thinking of a witty social media caption to go with your photos will probably contribute less to your growth than going to a networking event or doing a Facebook live where you can connect with your audience in real-time.
Same goes for automation. If you are still scrambling for bookings, you don't need to focus your time on automating your business, you want to spend 90% of your time in sales and marketing.
When you are clear on how to judge your tasks, you can do (1) /plan (2) /outsource (3) or eliminate (4) them.
First, you need an overview of all your commitments/ responsibilities and tasks.
Then you need to add the tasks that you know will make your business grow.
It can be a lot of work, but you will feel so glad when you have finished it!
Now based on the Eisenhower matrix, give them the right number 1, 2, 3. or 4..
For each number, based on how much they contribute to your business, put them in the right order.
That is just so super important!
Because having priorities is what will get you out of overthinking, out of chaos, and out of indecision. Isn't that miraculous?
“At the end of the day, you can't control the results. You can only control your effort level and your focus.” - Ben Zobrist
Now that you have a clear order, plan 3 tasks per day. Shoots that need to get processed and customers that need contracts or other things are also tasks that you plan. It could be as simple as one big task 'respond to emails and follow up with ShootZilla work' per day.
ShootZilla is a photography business management tool that tells you each day what your clients need, based on your pre-defined workflows.
When you are done with your big three of the day, you can reward yourself with more tasks!
Or choose a task from a different category that is less important for now but that is just so fun to work at (like spending time in photographer groups on Facebook or updating your website).
This approach will for sure take a bit of time when you start to work with it, but... everything that is worth it, takes a bit of effort. Don't let this small hurdle discourage you! Give it a chance and commit to prioritizing your list and keeping it up to date for at least a month. You will love it when you see how much you have accomplished for your business in that month!
You will see your speed of handling tasks and prioritizing them increase in a few days.
I know it's fun on social media. But let's not fool ourselves. Customers don't come falling from the sky and if they do, it's usually because we put in work to create some kick ass referrals, SE ranking or badass funnels prior to that. If we are not taking our company seriously, why would a customer take us seriously?
Don't think I am promoting the hustle and grind of working continuously on your business. Far from it. I know and feel that working hard can feel like play. I also know that having a certain mindset can keep you from working on the right things. Been there, done that.
You can deceive yourself by thinking, this feels uncomfortable so it's probably not meant for me. This is not my purpose, or this is not aligned with me.
What you want to do is train your mindset just like you train your muscles when working out. You can train your brain to crave working on the right things in your business. To get yourself out there. To do things for the first time. To figure out your books and numbers. It's all a game and you can learn to love it.
Also, my final disclaimer, I work hard on this, like many others. I have become more and more productive in my business without pushing and without hustling and grinding. I am prioritizing the right things more and more and my mantra is that work feels light, fun and like play. And that I grow every day.
Have fun working on your business this way. Let me know what you thought of this article in the comments below!