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7 Quick tips to Git R Done

March 9th, 2011  |  Published in Featured, Shoot  |  5 Comments

I am a world class procrastinator, but I love being self-employed. So, I trick myself into getting things done. Here are some of my strategies:

1) I recommend the productivity method Getting Things Done by David Allen. The basic premise is to collect all of your to-dos and put them in a big inbox and then sort your tasks by the tool you need to use to get the job done. Then do the tasks using the same tool at once. Using the phone I make a dentist appointment, call my vendors, and call my mom. When I get in the car, I get what I need for the post office, the grocery store and the print order for my favorite venue. The book has a detailed step by step process and is my go-to system for when I get really overwhelmed. Check it out of your library.

2) Fifteen minutes a day: this is a technique I use when I have a massive job with lots and lots of steps that I desperately don’t want to do. Organizing for my taxes comes to mind. When I’m ready to quit work for the day, I put in my 15 minutes. Often fifteen minutes is just enough to get organized: I shuffle papers and figure out my starting point. I might come up across a problem in the fifteen minutes that I can’t figure out. In the following 24 hours, I usually figure out a solution or figure out who to ask for help, and I can bite off another chunk.

I’ve also used this as a one-off jump start. For instance, I procrastinate over putting together blog posts. In fifteen minutes, I can get my momentum going. I’ve used the “Tick-tock timer” which sets off a very satisfying chime at the end of the time. I’ve also used a kitchen timer.

3) The Seinfeld Method: This is a slight variation on this for establishing new habits that I would like to keep forever. Jerry Seinfeld once told a young comic that the key to success is to write every day. And to force himself to do this, he would get a big wall sized calendar and make a big X on each day that he wrote. Once a string of X’s line up you don’t want to break the chain. I’ve used it for working out more than for photography or business.

4) Team up! I use this method when I need outside motivation to get shit done. I have a photo buddy who I work with now and then and we connect by email or phone and set our own mini-goals for the day. Be S.M.A.R.T. about it. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). The other person keeps you in check. Check in at pre-arranged times by iChat, phone or email. Just knowing that someone is going to ask if I have gotten my XYZ done in fifteen minutes is enough to chase me off of Facebook.

5) An hour by hour schedule: When I am swamped and days are slipping by with no work getting done, I will make an hour by hour schedule. First I get all the things I need to work on or would ideally like to do scribbled down on a scrap paper. The day I started this article, I had write first draft of article, calibrate computer monitor, process wedding, work out, clean house, laundry, post office, work on taxes and write blog. I mix up physical tasks with mental tasks, and the most important things tend to get placed earlier in the day. I take into consideration daylight hours (I prefer to edit in the dark). I schedule in eating and preparing food. And I make the timeline do-able. Not too ridiculous. I usually find that I have ten minutes left over between tasks and I will surf photography forums or facebook as a little reward. The greatest benefit, if I can stick to it, is being able to turn off the computer at night and feel like I have accomplished a great deal. Plus my house is clean!

6) Workflow: If you haven’t already done this, sit down and figure out all of the steps you would like to do for each wedding or portrait that you shoot. Be exhaustive. Start at the beginning of the process when you first get an inquiry or booking. Include every step, from the first thank-you you send to your clients to gathering your information, cleaning your sensors, packing your gear, downloading, editing, processing and delivery. Include marketing steps you would like to incorporate. All of your correspondence. Write down your ideal.

Then come up a system to track everything. I use ShootQ to organize my workflow and love it. But there are tons of other tools on the market. You can utilize a dry erase board and create a grid for every task for every client. You could make a checklist and make a photocopy for each job you get and just cross off every task with a pen. Having a standardized list to follow, reminds me to give each customer the level of service that I want to give. In the middle of the season, it can be very easy to take a booking and not send out a thank-you, or to skip contacting the venues.

7) Watch TV while you work: This is crazy-talk, and comes from my own personal desperation. After I first started shooting doubles and triples, and my office chair felt like a stockade, I set up my laptop next to my desktop and picked out some old TV shows and got them playing in the background. I don’t pay too much attention to the shows, although I do glance at them from time to time. The story going in the background does two things for me. I tell myself: I am going to process this wedding for at least one show. And I get rolling. Then I watch another show and another show.

This technique also cuts through my own self-criticism, I am particularly hard on myself when I am over-tired and stressed out. If I am involved in a plot, and I come across a photo that I took that didn’t turn out like I wished it had, I just shrug and move on. I don’t get mad at myself or tell myself that I must be a terrible person because I missed the focus or the exposure or my composition was uninspired. I just do what I can to fix the image or delete it and move on. I don’t know how or why this works, but for me, it does.

I especially love going through old TV shows. I watched all of Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City as well as way too many episodes of SOAP. You know I like you now, I wouldn’t spill that little gem to just anyone. :) Pick a show that you find mildly amusing, but not one that will make you want to stop editing so you don’t miss anything.

So those are my tricks. They may seem a little redundant, but they all feel very unique to me. I would love some new tricks to put up my sleeve, so let’s hear them!

Andree Kehn, Maine Wedding Photographer

About Andree

Andree Kehn has written 38 post in this blog.

Andree is a fun Bethel Maine Wedding Photographer, who specializes in contemporary photojournalism. She eats shoots and leaves.

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Responses

  1. Stacey Doyle says:

    March 9th, 2011 at 6:23 pm (#)

    Awesome awesome awesome tips Andree!!!
    Thank you

    I promise to start implementing them … tomorrow :P ;)

    Great post!

    Stacey D

  2. Andree says:

    March 10th, 2011 at 6:46 pm (#)

    You can do it, Stacey. Just committing to doing a task or series of tasks is the most difficult for me. Some days, I spend more time and energy procrastinating that I do on deliverables.

  3. chris riley says:

    March 11th, 2011 at 1:03 pm (#)

    You miss focus, exposure and composition sometimes? Whoa…you are human :) Great article – lots of gems in there!

  4. chris riley says:

    March 11th, 2011 at 1:07 pm (#)

    http://www.tadalist.com — awesome free website that you can create todo lists on. I use this for my ongoing projects and we share it among our office for all things. It’s the first thing that comes up and it stays up all the time. It’s super to get to the end of the day and check of a number of items.

    My other personal favorite is the old fashioned sticky note. I put them in a ring around my monitor. It looks horrible and is super cluttered and therefore inspires me to create a clean monitor and work space by finishing the items on each note and throwing them away. Yeah – it’s kind of a waste of paper but its really helpful and it works well.

  5. Andree Kehn says:

    March 11th, 2011 at 1:39 pm (#)

    Great idea about the ring-o-stickies. I may have to give that one a go.

    I use Things for Mac to track my lists. It’s pretty advanced, maybe too advanced for me. http://culturedcode.com/things/

    I’ll give tada list a go too. :)

    Thanks!

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