It’s that time of year again! Busy wedding season! Without fail, October rolls around and our calendar is jam packed with weddings and sessions. It’s only the prettiest time of year, so it makes sense that people naturally want to do photos now. My first couple of seasons I struggled with making busy season manageable and often felt stressed and overwhelmed but I’ve come up with a lot of ways to be productive and still feel like a normal human being at the same time.
1. Do as many things as you can do BEFORE your busy season starts.
Pre-blog, prepare the packaging for any client packages that will need to go out, Be proactive! Procrastination is not your friend during busy season. I find that by taking care of as many of the little things that I can do before the season gets into full swing, I alleviate some of my workflow and it feels less stressful getting everything else done.
2. Schedule days off
In my first couple of seasons as a photographer, I felt bad saying “no” and I would often end up overly stressed because I’d taken too much on. I think the best thing you can do for yourself and your clients is to have time to refresh your mind and rest so that you can give them 100 percent. For me, that means blocking at least one day a week off as my day off. And if for some odd reason we have a Saturday off during busy season, it means that I will probably block off the entire weekend so that we can take a couple days off. Two days off in a row! What a novelty this time of year! Ha.
3. Get a flu shot.
Seriously. Ain’t nobody got time to get sick. I know people have differing opinions on things like whether or not you should get a flu shot, but if you’re ambivalent or not against them, GO GET ONE. They’re free or low cost in most cases and will help protect you from sickness during a super hectic time for you. Health is obviously something that we cannot control, but doing your best to stay ahead of any illnesses is always a good idea.
4. Get your workflow together….or outsource.
I’m not an outsourcer myself, but that’s mainly because my workflow is to where I really don’t need to outsource my wedding edits. I can cull and color correct a full wedding in as little as 4-5 hours. I set aside the time to get it done so that I can get back to running the rest of my business. It doesn’t make financial sense for me to outsource since I have a handle on it and I mostly enjoy it. If you can’t, or don’t want to edit your own photos, start looking into outsourcing your editing! The key here is freeing up your time during the week for other things.
5. Find solutions for time-sucks
The post office was one of the biggest time sucks to me. I HATED going there and always felt like it was taking up too much time to load up my car, drive over there (it’s out of the way for me) and then wait in line. Instead, I know buy all of my postage online at USPS.com and then request a pickup from my local delivery person on their regular route. It’s a lifesaver! Maybe for you it isn’t going to the post office, but it’s bookkeeping. Is there a way you can automate it or outsource it? Maybe you’re struggling with designing albums while you’re really busy, but you need to get them out. I personally enjoy designing albums, but I use Align during my busiest times when I don’t have the time to do it myself. It’s all about finding a solution to get the things you dread doing DONE. That’s how you stay productive!
6. Automate as many things as you can.
I have an app that tracks my mileage so I don’t have to. I use Pixifi, which reminds people their payments are due so I don’t have to. I accept credit card payments which automatically deposit into my bank the next business day. When I accept checks I use an app on my phone which means I can sit on the couch and do it. Anything I can automate, I’m all about it! Use technology to your advantage! This is great year round…even when it’s not busy season, because it will free you up to travel or spend time with your kids or otherwise do other things you want to instead of the menial behind the scenes tasks no one loves to do.
7. Separate your goals into day to day tasks and off season tasks
Day to day things are what you absolutely have to do to maintain your business. Sending questionnaires and invoices, bookkeeping, editing, sending client packages, etc are all day to day tasks. Submitting weddings, updating your client guide, dreaming and scheming, etc are off season tasks. Making separate lists of your to-do items will help you feel less stressed and help you accomplish more. Plus, separating the lists does not mean that you don’t have to or can’t work on these things until off season…I work on mine anytime I’m ahead on my regular work or have some extra time! It just gives you the freedom to put those things on the back burner til you make it through your busy season and allows you to feel like you have some control over an overwhelming amount of tasks.
7. Streamline your regular life, too!
I prep my lunches for the rest of the week on Monday afternoons so that I have something quick to grab and won’t have to run out for fast food. I also sometimes use online grocery shopping for our food and Amazon prime for office supplies and household goods we don’t need ASAP. Time is at a premium during busy season and I’m willing to spend a little money to invest in saving some of my precious “free” time for fun things I want to do.
8. Get help
Whether this means getting help from your spouse, your friends and family, a really reliable second shooter and/or assistant or all of the above, by all means, if people offer you help, take it! One of the best things I ever did for the business was bring John in! He works with me on wedding days and drives me to and from each wedding day. I hate driving long distances, especially by myself, and since the majority of our weddings are 3 hours or so away, he is there to drive me to the weddings so dealing with traffic is one less thing I have to worry about. I show up to weddings feeling relaxed and ready to tackle whatever lies ahead that day.
Balancing work and life can be tricky…work is obviously super important because that’s how you can afford to have a personal life, but personal life is largely what real life is about. It’s about friendships and family. Making memories! I hope that no matter how busy you get this season, you remember to take time to make memories with the people who matter most to you. And! Always remember…being busy is a good thing! When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I take a minute to focus on being grateful for all of the opportunity that’s been sent my way. I always say “if I wasn’t busy, I would be at home, sad because I’m not making any money.” With all things, there’s a season for everything, and right now we’re in a season of hustling. We’ve got this!