Monday, October 22, 2007

Where Does All Your Time Go?

One of the challenges of being self-employed, and especially as a photographer, is the presumption of how our time is spent. Few, if any, photographers know how their day is spent. We can all say, with near certainty, that it's not spent shooting every moment of every day. I would go so far as to say we're not doing nearly as much shooting as we'd like to be.

The follow-on questions become - how do we discern this information, and why would we want to in the first place?

(Continued after the Jump)
To start, grab a notebook, one you can carry around easily. Begin by jotting down everything you do for the next two weeks. 15 minute segments work. Personal items note as such. Categories such as "paying bills, billing clients, paperwork, client conversations, other paperwork, researching online, eating, travel (i.e. in your car/bus/plane), post-production, marketing, networking, and so on. Oh, yeah, include actually making pictures too!

At the end of the two weeks, I think you'll be surprised at the numbers. Anything that takes away from making pictures or activities directly and specifically related to growing your business should be the things you do most. Yet, you will learn that the day-to-day "small stuff" gets in the way of all that. Don't take my word for it - try it on your own and see for yourself.

Learn how to outsource what you're doing that is distracting. Just as we outsourced color printing and slide processing back in the day, and we continue to outsource having our dress clothes dry-cleaned, so to is there value in outsourcing things that are not directly related to growing your business or making photos.

Begin by contemplating outsourcing your scanning of analog to digital files, if you still have any. Consider bringing in someone to do your post-production work, and take calls when you're out of the office - even if that office is a small portion of your home.

You've got a pretty good list of the distractions from your two-week research. Begin by determining what you could outsource immediately, and what you could outsource if you invested time in training someone to do it the way you do.

Then, find the right person - the right fit - to begin to make that happen. You'll be surprised at just how much free time you have now, and how much more focused you can be on your future success.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but a lot of my time is whittled away by reading blogs and reviewing photography!! I am an 'emerging' professional, still trying to develop my eye and make a name for myself, so I find yours and some other photography blogs useful. But before I know it, my morning has been whittled away! I don't think I can outsource the blog reading to someone else. Maybe I should reserve it for 'happy hour' in the evening, after all my other work has been done!

Anonymous said...

Tom Grill the Uber stock shooter who is very disciplined in his production line approach recently said in an interview that he shoots two days a week. That gives him the other three days to edit, caption, Photoshop and take care of business.

If his ratio of shooting to everything else is only two fifths, the rest of us must be far behind.

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