Running a sustainable photography business is challenging in itself without being a parent. But that should not hold us back from the joy of motherhood and the satisfaction of having our own business.
We need to start by recognising a very important truth: achieving a perfect balance as a working mother is a myth – the scale tends to tip one way or the other at any given point. That’s normal and it does NOT make us a failure. We just need to embrace it, rather than striving for an unattainable equilibrium. Nonetheless, there are things that we can intentionally do to help not only keep our heads above water, but swim comfortably with the current.
Last year, as my son was approaching his 2nd birthday, it was becoming more of a challenge to give him the attention that he needs, work on my photography business and take care of myself. I realised that it was no longer business as usual and that it was high time for me to implement some overdue changes that will keep me from crumbling. I knew that I needed to become more efficient and productive in the way that I work so that the quality time that I spend with my son is stress-free and abundant.
If you can relate, keep on reading. These tips are game-changers:
PLAN IN ADVANCE – IT’S ALL ABOUT TIME-MANAGEMENT
Allotting time on Sunday evenings or Monday mornings in order to plan the week ahead will help you make sure that you get all the important things done without getting overwhelmed. Be realistic with your to-do list and don’t give in to procrastination. Map-out the week in way that you get the tasks that you dread done first and out of the way. This way, you can keep motivated and keep moving forward.
Bonus: Be reasonable with the deadlines that you give your clients. Manage their expectations about when they will receive their images and aim to get the job done ahead of time, rather than having to be late and disappoint them, because something came up. (e.g. your kid fell ill).
CREATE WORKFLOWS AND UTILIZE SYSTEMS
In business, there are aspects that tend to repeat over and over again. Identify what they are and create appropriate templates and utilize checklists.Yes, you will need to invest time initially, but it will pay-off in the end, I promise. The additional bonus is that it guarantees that things stay consistent and nothing goes overlooked.
Use tools like a physical planner, Google calendar and/or Trello to help you keep organised and set schedules. Keep your workspace tidy, and make sure you don’t need to waste time looking for stuff (oh how much time do we waste looking for stuff??).
Setting aside time to do similar tasks at once is the pinnacle of productivity. This way, you are in the right headspace to focus on that specific topic, making you very efficient. Multi-tasking is not as beneficial – focused work, where you dedicate your full-attention to the task in front of you is a skill worth developing.
I was first introduced to this concept by Jenna Kutcher who was kind enough to answer my question on her Goal Digger Podcast. This is what she writes on one of her blog posts ”Batch working is highly-focused, topic-specific forms of working… It is dividing your workflow into different days/hours of ONE TOPIC instead of jumping around from task to task.”
None of this can be achieved if you do not take the time to take care of yourself. If you neglect your personal needs, the negative consequences will materialize in how you show up as a mom, wife, business woman, friend etc… Allow yourself to have quiet time, ample opportunities to rest, and sleep well. Make sure that you are eating healthy and exercising regularly. I highly recommend meal-planning in order to ensure that you (and your family) are getting all the variety and nutritions on a weekly basis, not to mention it takes away from the mental stress of having to constantly think about what you are going to eat.
I truly hope that implementing these tips will make your life more manageable and enjoyable. Yes, at times the laundry might pile up and you may not have brushed your hair in a few days, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Lead with grace and find comfort in the fact that you are strong and courageous enough to pursue your dreams while being a mom.
At the end of the day, what you will cherish the most, and what you can never get back, is the precious time with your loved ones. And as a last note, don’t forget to photograph the everyday “mundane” moments (not just the highlights). These are what true memories are made of.
Note: What I have written here is also applicable to dads, but as a mom, I am just writing from my own perspective. Additionally, I did not mention options like daycare, babysitters etc… because, it is not an option available to everybody. Even neighbouring countries like Germany and Switzerland have completely different approaches to maternity/paternity leave and the cost/availability of child-care, let alone considering other countries around the world.
Is there anything else you would add to this list? What are you struggling with the most? Which point spoke to you?
Share your thoughts in the comments below…
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Hi! I’m Aida, a photographer & podcaster based in Germany. I provide wedding photographers with the inspiration, tools and resources needed to build a sustainable brand and business. Click here for more about me.