A common question I get, especially lately now that I’ve celebrated my one year anniversary and my best friend is working two jobs, is how did you do TWO full time jobs? The emphasis is always on TWO. Or how did you DO it?? I honestly don’t know how I did it. It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. It’s one of those things that you just power through when you’re in it. Kind of like having a newborn. Lots of work, little sleep, but you know it’s not forever. I knew that if I was going to continue doing this (the two job thing, that is) and actually grow in one of them, business-wise, then I needed to become very efficient and very organized. Here are a few things I learned along the way and hopefully they might help one of you.
Get an intern. Genius. ‘Nough said.
Ok I’m kidding. I was at a point where I really needed an assistant. And friends wouldn’t work out on a regular basis and Michael didn’t have the time. I had a photography internship when I was in college and loved it so the light bulb inside my head went off. I can get an intern. I love to teach (my little sister knows this all too well) so it seemed like the thing to do. UNCW makes it pretty simple to post and find an intern. The most important thing about having an intern made me do was to get streamlined and document the heck out of what it is I do. I may do a full blog post on this later but it was extremely helpful to have another set of hands to do everyday tasks that I don’t personally need to do.
Set alerts for important email. I can be a maniac about checking my email. It’s like getting a present. I also believe it’s important to have a good response time. So to solve this problem, I did some research and found that I can setup my phone to alert me when I get emails with specific criteria. When people contact me from my website and it sends me an email, that email comes from the same email address so I was able to setup an alert on my phone every time I got an email from it. Great! So I don’t have to waste time checking my email to see if what I deem as important has come in.
Set time limits for social media. I didm;t really have that problem when I had two jobs because I barely had time to eat but it’s a problem now so I’ll mention it. There are programs like Covenant Eyes or LeechBlock that allow you to set limits on the amount of time you spend on certain websites. This forces me to focus on why I’m on Facebook in the first place and quickly get off. It’s sad but that’s what the world’s come to.
Use labels/folders in email. Ashley Goodwin actually forced me to use this method even more than I already was. She shared on her blog how she organizes her client email and I thought it was genius. I had the idea once and then I immediately thought, “But is that being a little too organized?” so I never followed through but her explanation made perfect organization sense. In gmail you can create labels, or folders really, for your email. The point is to only have email in your immediate Inbox that needs answering. I used to have 400 emails in my inbox and I would go crazy trying to figure out what I needed to do with each email, which ones do I need to respond to, which ones need action, etc. My labels are broken down to Weddings, Boudoir, Other Sessions, and then from there broken down into client labels. Once the email has been answered, I move it out of my inbox and into the right label. It’s also great to be able to have all the correspondence for a client in one place because I am always looking for answers to things we’ve talked about. AND I learned what archiving was. It’s getting rid of an email without really deleting it. Duh. I love it!
Keep a workflow list for each client. This is actually still evolving but I think I’m at the final resting stop. I have gone back and forth on so many different ways of keeping track of what I’ve done with each client. At first it was a white board, and then a spreadsheet, and then in a studio management software, and now I’m at pen and paper. Hilarious. The way I was doing it in my first job out of college. I laugh as I check those little tick boxes off now thinking why I didn’t learn from my past experience. I mean I practically checked off boxes for a living. But old school is the way to go. Spreadsheet being the second best, but there’s something about not having to open a program just to check something off a list.
Have a dreaded chore day. I definitely learned really quickly that I didn’t like having to enter all of my receipts for the entire year at one time. And there were monthly required tasks that needed to be done so I decided to set aside one day a month (for me it’s during the first week) of doing all of the dreaded things we hate as creatives to do. Accounting, sales tax, paying bills, etc. That way I only get everything I needed out at one time for those chores and knocked it out for the month. Then when tax time comes around, it’s not so dreaded.
Email templates. This one is pretty simple but if there’s an email you find yourself writing more than once, make a Word doc out of it and save it. I keep mine in Dropbox so that way I can use them wherever I am.
Make a daily priority list. It’s actually important to do this the night before. Make a priority list of the things you must get done the next day and write them in order of importance. I can’t do it in the morning because I am NOT a morning person (my old coworkers know this all too well) and it takes me half the morning before I’m thinking clearly. And even then I immediately go to checking email, get off track and can’t focus on what needs to be done next. Make a list. Break it down into steps. Jude how much time each task will take. And take breaks in between.
Ask for help. I would like to say that I did it all on my own but there were many times where I was overwhelmed and was stressed about meeting deadlines (even thought they were my personal deadlines) and I just couldn’t physicality do it all. Know your limits and don’t be afraid to ask for help. My husband has been such a great support and if I was ever in a pinch and needed some help he was right there. And I have to say, so were my friends. They were happy to exchange work for picture credit 🙂 I couldn’t have done it without them!
I could go on and on but those are the main things I’ve learned and I’m sure there will be many more! OK I’ll just quickly mention a few more: schedule blog posts, schedule social media updates, use Google calendar and share with family members, use a good studio management software…..I’d love to hear about any systems or tips you have for running an efficient and organized business!