Hi there, I'm Manali! A wedding photographer & educator serving Charlottesville VA & DC. Click through for all my favorites from recent sessions, adventures and travels, as well as tips & tricks for clients! Grab a cup of coffee, relax, and feel free to connect with me elsewhere as well! Cheers to you!
Manali is a wedding photographer & educator based out of Charlottesville, VA. When she's not making couples laugh or teaching other photographers how to save time & grow their business, you can find her at a vineyard with wine & cheese in hand with her friends & fam!
Crafting a Weekly Schedule as a Creative Entrepreneur
November 16, 2020
Call me nosy but I used to always be curious as to how business owners organized each week! It’s easy to see a long (and sometimes never-ending) to-do list and wonder how people organize & prioritize it to tackle it! This week’s blog post is for photographers that want an inside peek as to how to organize your weeks to tame that to-do list!
Before we dive right in, I have a few tips & tricks for more productive days!
THE TWO RULES OF EIGHT
This is SO elementary but somewhere along the lines of growing up, people lose sight of this easily and often first when they get really busy.
My two biggest productivity tips? To get 7-8 hours of sleep and to drink enough water for your body weight! This are things that should be non-negotiable!! I don’t care how busy you are, there is ROOM to get 8 hours of sleep unless you have someone waking you up in the middle of the night (young moms get a pass on this but that’s about it). If you don’t believe me, read 168 Hours with Laura Vanderkam and you’ll see that you can ALWAYS find time in your week for eight hours of sleep.
Also, drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day! I’m the first to admit I used to be that person that RUNS on coffee but your body needs water to function at its best and avoid health-related problems! It used to take a bit of planning to get me to drink water. Nowadays, I have a water bottle that holds about 24 oz. that sits by me on my desk & I am to refill it at least 2 times throughout the day and drink it all! But if you’re still making this a habit, here’s a few things that might help with establishing it!
TIP #1: Set a reminder on your phone every 1-2 hours to drink water. I know this seems kind of strange but it definitely works! This also forces you to GET UP from your seat, walk up and down a flight of stairs to get water so it doubles to get your blood pumping a little within the workday which keeps you awake and productive!
TIP #2: If you LOVE checking things off of your to-do list, this might work really well for you! On my planner, at the beginning of each month, I make 3 little circles on top of each daily page to help track my water intake (one for each time I drink the whole bottle)! I like checking these off throughout the day! After tracking these for a little while I’ve noticed that I tend to get sick / get migraines / feel sluggish when I have a bunch of consecutive days without drinking enough water.
I set specific time deadlines for tasks in my business. For example, if I’m editing a wedding, I’ll first break it up into different Lightroom Collections based on parts of the day. Then I’ll give myself 1 hour to edit the Reception Collection and block off say, Monday from 10 to 11 AM to get this done.
I’ll block off different times throughout my editing days for specific collections to get done! This makes me focus on what I’m editing and edit as efficiently as possible without getting distracted to get each section of the wedding done within its time limit.
I also use this tip when working on other parts of my business such as responding to emails, prepping blog posts and social media content, tracking website analytics, etc. It’s harder to pick up your phone and start mindlessly scrolling and wasting minutes of your day when you’re trying to meet a deadline!
Along with this, I force myself to have a hard stop time for my workday! This might sound counterintuitive, especially when you have a lot of work to get through on a day, but this actually forces me to be more productive during the time that I have! I can’t get distracted and HAVE to get my stuff done if I know I’m shutting off my computer by 5 PM and can’t touch work stuff again until the next day!
Along with time blocking tasks, I’ve found that my brain tends to work better when I know exactly what I’m working on for each day ahead of time. Each day during the week is given a certain business purpose and I actually plan shoots & meetings around this general schedule.
Here’s how I designate weekly tasks to each day in my business! I’ll write a longer blog post on this where I go into detail on exactly which tasks I do on which days but here’s a quick overview!
Monday – Content Prep Day aka editing blog post images, writing out & scheduling blog posts and corresponding social media posts, drafting & scheduling my weekly email list email. This is a content-heavy day so I can set it and have my marketing on auto-pilot for the rest of the week while I focus on client work & other business projects! My brain tends to work well when I do similar tasks together & all at once rather than trying to force my brain to come up with an Instagram caption at the end of each workday!
I use WordPress for my blog posts (it’s automatically hooked up to my Showit website), I use Planoly to plan out my Instagram grid & set things to auto-post, I use the FB Business Page post scheduler for Facebook posts, and Flodesk for my educational emails out to the email list! My marketing map of what’s going out when & the workflow checklist for each of the pieces of content that I need to schedule is hosted on my Marketing Map Trello Board.
Tuesday – Days for shooting engagement sessions, portrait sessions, client consultations in the evening, errands and all client work. Client work can consist of staying on top of client emails, sending follow up’s, checking HoneyBook (my CRM to manage leads & current customers!) & completing all client-related tasks that are due that week. This also looks like editing any sessions, uploading & delivering any final galleries, sending galleries out to wedding vendors, networking with other people in the creative industry, working on an album design for a couple, etc!
Wednesday – Usually my Main Editing Day! This is also another day I reserve to stay at home and go HAM on editing images from weddings and on more client work like designing albums, sending out questionnaires, organizing upcoming wedding day information, etc. I also go through my weekly “tracking” checklist on this day! My tracking checklist comprises of making sure my business finances are in order with receipts uploaded for each business transaction in Quickbooks, tracking mileage, making sure all invoices are paid, looking through social analytics, tracking where my inquiries are coming from, and prepping any client gifts or photography gear & information for upcoming weddings / shoots!
Thursday – One of my favorite days since I get to work on internal business projects! Sometimes this looks like updating my website or tweaking a wedding or portrait workflow or it’s working on bigger projects like launching digital products for other photographers, etc! This has been in the past how I’ve carved out time to work ON the business to elevate it! Again, I’m a HUGE lover of Trello so my business projects each have their own board on my Business Dev board and then cards with checklists of how to complete the project!
Friday – I try to take Friday’s a lot lighter than the rest of the week! Usually, I have one or two tasks that’ll spill over or I’m really excited about the business project so I’ll work on it on Friday for a couple of hours. I’ve also started to take Friday’s as a little bit more of CEO days. This practically looks like going over the 1, 3, 5 and 10 year vision and reminding myself what I’m working so hard towards. I also look over the Business Development board that I talked about and will plan out the 3 big things that I want to accomplish next week to move the business forward! I’ll also loosely time block those into my Google Calendar for next week. This freaks some people out having their whole week “scheduled” out but I use this as a LOOSE schedule to help keep me on track and avoid getting distracted from my “main” things!
READY TO START PUTTING SYSTEMS IN PLACE IN YOUR BUSINESS?
If you’re wondering what the inside of a successful & streamlined photography business looks like the Resources Vault is for you! It includes everything from email templates, client questionnaires, workflows for portraits & questionnaires, a breakdown of a profitable marketing strategy & how to streamline and organize each and every part of your business. More of a visual learner? Be sure to watch the totally-free masterclass!