It’s technically “off season” but that doesn’t mean as photographers and wedding vendors that we’re actually off…a lot of people probably think that since we aren’t photographing every weekend right now, we just aren’t really doing any work. But, the reality of being a small business owner is that you have to work at it year round, even when your business is slower than the rest of the year. During off season, I’m much less motivated to work though because a lot of the tasks on my to-do list aren’t things I technically HAVE to do and sometimes playing another round of Candy Crush seems so much more appealing.
I’ve learned a few tricks to help make sure I’m still being productive even when I’m not as busy. Here they are!
- Use the time to work on bigger projects. This is the time to work on all of those things that we really don’t have as much time for during busy season. If you’ve got a big project you want to work on, this is the time to do it! This year I’m working on my taxes (isn’t that the ultimate big project for small business owners??), designing a few PDF guides for our clients, and a couple other things. I also like to use the “downtime” to write up blog posts in advance, read business books, update my website, and submit any work that hasn’t been submitted yet.
- Make a list of things you want to get done and assign the tasks required to specific days. At the beginning of every week I make a list of things I’d like to accomplish that week and then I assign those tasks to different days of the week. To me, breaking down a to do list makes it seem a little bit more manageable than just feeling like I have to slog through a list of 30 things every single day and can’t stop til it’s done. I’d rather do 6 tasks a day and do something else I’m excited to do when I’m done with those 6 tasks.
- Utilize a timer to keep on track. Although I’m also a fan of multi-tasking, when I’m really struggling to be productive, I find it helpful to commit to small chunks of time to working completely uninterrupted on one task. No email, no Facebook no phone, texting, etc. Just one task and nothing else. I use the Pomodoro timer app for Mac because I like how the time remaining stays in your toolbar at the top of the screen and notifications pop up when the timer goes off. It’s automatically designed to alert you after 25 minutes of work that it’s time for a break but you can set it for whatever you want.
- Work in your office. When I’m really busy, sometimes I work from the couch or from the dining room table instead of my office. I just feel like I’m in the office too much and need a change of scenery…and I feel like sitting where I want is a self employment perk! When I’m not feeling super motivated, sitting in my office at my desk is the perfect way to set the mood for getting work done!
- Give yourself a break. You earned it! I like to think of this slower time as similar to when teacher friends are off for the summer. Yes, there’s still things that need to be done to keep everything going, but you also earned the right to relax a little bit and enjoy the slower pace!
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that as a business owner you’re in charge of managing your time however you think is best! My goal is always to try to strike that delicate balance between work and life. If your scales tip a bit more towards the “life” end this time of year, that’s okay too because it’ll all even out in the end!
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