Tips to Increase Your Productivity When You Work from Home

Home Office ProductivityEveryone dreams of the day they can start their own business and work at home. And a photography business is a perfect work-at-home business. But ‘home' doesn't necessarily equal ‘better'. When you work at home, a lot of your success will depend upon your ability to separate your work life from your personal life. Follow these photo business tips to increase your productivity when you work at home.

It's easy to get distracted from your business when you work at home. It only takes a minute to fill the dishwasher, another minute to throw in a load of laundry, 5 minutes to talk to your sister on the phone, 15 minutes to walk the dog, 20 minutes to check Facebook and email. Oh, and why not put that roast in the oven while you're at it? But at the end of the day, all those minutes add up.

The best thing you can do for your photography business is schedule your work time. But it's not enough to simply say you'll work from 9 to 2 or 8 to 5. You also need to schedule your tasks to stay on track and you make sure you get everything done.

Tips for Photography Business Productivity

Email: Allow yourself a set amount of time to read and respond to business related email only. Don't even open personal emails until you're off the clock. How much time you set aside depends on the size of your business but generally speaking, 20 to 30 minutes at the beginning of your day and again at the end should be sufficient. Checking email every 20 minutes is a hard habit to break, but if you can get away from it, you’re productivity will soar.

Starting Early: One of the best tips I can share is to start your day early. If you are able to work for an hour without any interruptions, you will find that you get more done in that first hour than in the next 3 hours when the phone, the email and the family needs begin to cycle through your day. A huge advantage to starting your day early is that you can work on your most important project and actually make progress.

The Phone: You're going to have a certain number of client phone calls every day. Most will probably come from over-anxious brides and you won't be able to control those. But set aside a time to handle those calls that you can control – contacting venues, setting appointments, etc. Again, set up the time, make the calls, and mark it off your list. I also recommend letting personal calls go to voicemail, and letting friends and family know that just because you work at home, that doesn’t mean you are available for chatting all afternoon.

Photo Editing: This is something we all have to do, unless you outsource this task. Understand what type of energy level you need for editing, so you can schedule this task at the best time for you. I like to edit (also called culling) when I am unable to give mental energy to a project that takes brain power, like marketing.

Marketing: A good portion of your time should be spent in marketing. Contacting vendors for lunch appointments, networking, posting new photos on your Facebook page, updating your blog or website, etc. This is one of the most important parts of your business day and, as your business grows and you get more involved with clients, it's the easiest to let fall by the wayside. Don’t let that happen. We got so busy one year we completely forgot to spend any time marketing, and the next year we paid for it. Start your day with the most important tasks, and the rest of your day will be more productive.

Other than email and personal life interruptions, one of the biggest distractions you'll find is the Internet itself. It's so easy to click on a link and wind up, 2 hours later, chatting in some forum or playing World of Warcraft.

There are 2 reasons it's important to create a work schedule: One, it forces you to keep your nose to the grindstone and increases your productivity when you work at home. And two, it lets you know that you WILL be done by a certain time and then you'll have plenty of time for your personal life. Once you are able to maintain a high level of productivity within your set work hours, you’ll be able to get away from your desk and enjoy your life.


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mahvash November 26, 2011 at 9:04 am

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Hi Lara,
I always I did everything by myself, now I am tired of lots of work I want to have a partner for business part of my photography being a Artist it is very hard to be a business minded. Any idea or suggestion how to find a right person the problem is I can not put someone in payroll,I am thinking as commission +small payment for the first 4 mount to see how it works. Thanks for any suggestion.
Sincerely,
Mahvash

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Lara White November 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

Hi Mahvash,

I think hiring a studio manager is a great idea, something we did a couple years ago. I would definitely recommend a commission basis, and you also need to be clear about evening hours and weekends. In terms of finding the right person, I recommend doing an in office trial day to see how the person is able to handle various tasks etc. Sometimes people claim to be an excel wizard and then it turns out they have only the most basic experience.

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Lorraine Daley October 11, 2011 at 9:59 am

Great tips Laura. I read Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris and it has been a great inspiration to me. I don’t open email until noon. I try not to launch my browser til noon as well, so I don’t get sidetracked. This give me a few hours of uninterrupted work. Then I close both and get back to work after about 30 minutes- 1 hour. I open them again around 5 to see if there is anything else to take care of.

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Lara White October 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I loved that book~what really impressed me is the idea of understanding how your business model fits into (or dictates) your lifestyle. As wedding photographers, we are committed to working most weekends and many evenings, and that can really take a toll on personal lives. Having some solid productivity routines is the best way to balance, in my opinion.

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Omega October 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Great tips Laura. Another approach is to tackle the toughest item on your list first. The rest of your list (although sometimes long) will seem less daunting.

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Lara White October 10, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I couldn’t agree more Omega. I get such a boost from getting that one thing done I’ve been procrastinating about, I feel so confident and am much more productive for the rest of the day.

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Jacqueline October 10, 2011 at 10:02 am

I’ve been working from home for four months and have found this gets easier over time. It helps to have a partner who works 9-5 to help structure life too!

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Lara White October 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Jacqueline,

you are right, if your partner is sticking to a schedule, it’s probably easy to go along with that. In our case, both Geoff and I work from home, and we are on different schedules, so that has proved tricky (to say the least). In fact, I’ve just finished a 6 part article that I’ll be posting soon on working with your spouse. It’s not pretty, but it details our struggles-how business spilled into personal and how personal spilled into business. Eventually we got it together and forged a path to success. But it wasn’t easy!

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