Work. Life. Balance. is a very popular topic with creative entrepreneurs or any entrepreneur for that matter. Should you bring work home with you? Should you take work phone calls after you're off the clock? Should you check your work emails (I might miss something important)? The BIG question...when does work end and life begin? There are so many questions and even more answers that benefit each individual business owner. These are the items that have organized and streamlined my business so I can get back to living my life.
SET BUSINESS HOURS
I have a full time day job, and I have set hours as to when I begin and when I stop working. My day begins when I walk in the door and my day ends when I leave the building. I cannot resume work remotely because the tools are unavailable to me. This got me thinking...what if I set business hours for myself? Within the last few months, I have adopted business hours for my photography business. This has totally changed my life! You would think that the few hours I do have to edit, advertise, respond to email, create marketing pieces and more would spiral out of control, but the opposite happened. The process became more streamlined and easy. I knew the hours I had allotted myself to get my work done and this inspired me to focus more within the time I had set. Each day's hours are a little different depending on soccer practices, date nights, and tv shows (I can't live without my Scandal). I have set my hours for later in the evening so I can spend time with my family before hand. I definitely don't want to miss our nightly book readings. To keep myself on track, I have three alarms set on my phone:
- It's time to get down to business!
- 15 minutes before the end...this gives me time to make a new to-do list of the things I would like to accomplish the next day if I have anything left over.
- Time's up! Pack it in, put everything away.
TO DO LISTS
I used to be the post-it queen. I had post-it's all over my office wall. They were completely color coded and I thought it was so pretty, but what happened when one fell behind my desk? That's when I switched over to 2 things:
- A to-do list notepad.
- The post-it app on my computer
The to-do list notepad stays on my desk at all times. It's an ongoing, rotating list that changes daily, if not hourly. It's an emphasis on what I need to get done and prioritizes my needs as well. To go along with my notepad is the post-it app on my computer. I think this may be just a healthy way to feed my addiction for post-its, without wasting any paper. You can make multiple post-its or one long post-it with bullet points. With both of these items, I have reduced the clutter behind my computer screen & desk and prioritized my needs.
I am a planner girl. I actually have two planners. I have one for my photography business and one for life in general. My photography business planner is the same as any other calendar planner with monthly and weekly outlooks, but the one I use is specifically made for photographers. It goes in depth into marketing, workflow, resources and even financials. This is the first item I open up, when I sit down at my desk, getting ready to dive in. It lets me look ahead, to see if I am planning accordingly.
My other planner is a life planner. With my husband, two kids, and a dog, we need to keep rather organized. I would love to show you what my life planner looks like, but I'm scared of the jumbled mess it is right now. It houses coupons, doctors appointments, grocery lists, meal planning, and any other appointment or list you need with a family of 4. This stays in my purse at all times, so I can send a quick text to my husband reminding him of what's to come.
Binders are just another way to organize your business. I separate my clients, contracts, and marketing all into different binders. I purchase alphabetical and monthly tabs for the matching binders to get really detailed organization. I am able to look back at the year 2014 and see what marketing pieces I sent out or created. This creates the possibility of recycling or creating a whole new piece. I keep all of my contact information in my phone, but I also have a paper back up. My client information sheet is very detailed. I am able to see the contact information as well as favorite locations, favorite poses, items purchased and more. I just don't see these details in my phone.
I have always struggled with the balance of work and life in the past. Especially with children that can be so unpredictable. These are some of the items that keep my business and life very organized and streamlined. Organization is definitely key to a well balanced life.
What things have you implemented within your business that has given you more balance? What keeps you organized? What are the items you can't live without?