Chaos breeds burnout. Burnout breeds Walmart stockers.
Being a photographer these days is so much more hectic than when I started this wacky career.
We shot the images.
Get the film to the lab.
Got them back.
Add hours of Photoshop, social media, email, marketing, and all of the other things that we do in 2023 to the average day, and we have a chaotic life. It spins out of control more than we are even aware of.
I recently decided to make some changes, and here are a few things I am doing to help me get more done and eliminate so much chaos.
I Established a Consistent Morning Routine
A set routine in the morning sets the tone for the day and helps my creative brain stay on task. I developed a routine that includes a healthy lunch, exercise, and dedicated time for working on my task list.
I learned to Prioritize Tasks with the Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is one of the ways I organize my days when I am too busy to hear myself think. It helps me prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance and ensures that essential tasks are completed first.
I Break Down Big Stuff into Smaller Stuff
Breaking down large projects or tasks into smaller, manageable jobs can alleviate the overwhelm and jumpstart productivity. This approach allows me to tackle projects that I can manage step by step and helps me maintain a sense of accomplishment.
I Utilize Time Management Techniques
If there is anything on this list that creates a challenge, it is time management. I’ve tried techniques, such as the Pomodoro Technique and time blocking, hoping they would stick and make it easier. I have found I must utilize a mix of chunking time that is more customized and flexible. If I find a method that works right out of the box, I’ll let you know.
I Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound Targets
Measurable targets provide a clear roadmap for goal-oriented success. By using measurable targets, and monitoring the progress, I can see at a glance where I need to focus in the short, and long, term.
I Am Trying to Create a Distraction-Free Workspace
Yeah. Trying. But it is hard. I rearranged my office and put dark curtains on my door to let the family know I am working. I have to turn off everything but the work I am doing, and even the music is controlled for volume and tempo. No words in the music, usually jazz or classical. The phone is off for 50 minutes at a time, but back on when I do my ?” ten-minute move-around -so-I-don’t-die” routine.
I Am Leveraging Technology and Tools
While I am not sure I can use some of the more popular tools like Notion, and Roam Research, I am currently digging on Airtable, ChatGPT, Bearly, Pixelmator, and Canva. I can choose to open up proprietary software like Premier, but if all I need is a blurb video, Canva makes it so much faster.
I Delegate and Collaborate
Yeah, this one is hard for me. Delegating tasks has always been a thorn. “If you want it done right….” But that also means spending more time doing something small and less time doing something big. I recently finished the first draft of a book on how photography can give your life more meaning, and I sent it off for first-draft editing to an editor I found on Fiverr. With her collaborating with me, I will get to the finished draft far faster than I would on my own.
I Regularly Review and Adjust Goals Through My System
I schedule periodic reviews and adjust my goals. I do this through my systematic approach to the work. Systems are how we make goals attainable. Without a clear system for getting from where we are to where we want to be, absolutely nothing is real. The system makes the goals live.
I Have Learned to Embrace the Power of “No”
Learning to say “no” is empowering for busy people, especially creative people. We are, by nature, people who like to please. By setting clear boundaries and prioritizing what I need to do, I avoid overcommitting and disappointing someone. Even myself.
Schedule Regular Breaks and Downtime
To avoid creative burnout and keep working well, it’s important for me to take breaks, relax, and do some light exercise. I even put it in my schedule. Creative people should set aside time to relax, do hobbies, play games, learn to play the saxophone (I’ll play just what I want*), and work on improving themselves at least a little bit each day. Some say improving by 1% a day is admirable and measurable, so I try to do that.
I Developed a Growth ‘Mindset’
‘Mindset’ is in quotes because it is not a word I am fond of. It just seems to work in this situation. (What is “mindset ” anyway?) What I try to do is think short and long-term and focus on the maintenance of the systems I have in place. I have put the goal front and center; now I must work the system to get there.
Mindfulness and, some say, meditation, can help me reduce stress and maintain focus. By practicing mindfulness, I am trying to develop greater self-awareness, which I trust will lead me to more successful creativity.
I Utilize the Two-Minute Rule
The Two-Minute Rule is a simple productivity technique that involves completing tasks that take less than two minutes immediately. By following this rule, I simply get things done that nag and nag you as you try to work on more serious issues. If I can get it done in two minutes, I am doing it right now.
I Celebrate Successes and Milestones
I love tacos, and I use them for my celebratory moments. Close a deal… tacos. Get great news from a student… tacos. Complete a project I was working on… tacos, baby. I also note milestones in a similar way. As we go
Change is hard.
But really, what isn’t?
I am working on these every single day. Most days are pretty good, and some days I think f*** it; I’m doing something else. But those days are rarer than they used to be.
We all need some R&R from the relentlessness of 2023. Whether we bring it on ourselves or it is simply a byproduct of crazy times is not known. Yet.
But I hope these changes in my business lifestyle can resonate with you as well. If these ideas give you ideas of your own, that is really fantastic. Or, and this is fine, just use mine.
Just heading out to “drink scotch whiskey all night long…”
I write about photography, design, art, music, and motorcycles.