Effective Work Habits for Successful Photographers
Let's talk about time management. Because we have special needs us creative people. And, so I'm gonna share with you some of my time management tips. These are just general things I've learned and then some specific things over the years that has helped me to be, more optimized for my using my creative time for creative stuff. Creative brain for creative stuff. Alright? So first of all, optimize. Optimize yourself. When are you the most creative? Everybody is different. For me, it's in the morning, before lunch. I'm usually feelin' like I've got that, I come up with ideas. And it's also very late at night that I come up with these ideas but I don't want to work late at night. So, I try to work on the creative things, the planning for shoots, the creative writing that I sometimes do. If I can do a photo shoot more in the morning. Photo shoot scheduling, you often don't have control over that but the things that you do control, your creative marketing, branding whatever, try to find a ti...
me, your golden hours, when you can, you know you're the most creative, and do that then. Then your mindless stuff, which for me is after lunch. I've had my coffee, I'm still fallin' asleep. (laughs) That two to four o'clock range, anybody the same as that with me? It's like, I'm just like ah I'm not feelin' it, I don't know how many coffees I have I'm still just kind of, I can't think. That's when I'll do things like social media. I schedule that stuff so that I'm tryin' to do that stuff at at a certain time of day, when I don't need a lot of creative brain effort. I just need to do it. So I get through an email, whatever I need to during those hours. But my creative hours I reserve, for creative stuff. And that's something that's different for everybody. Some people say well after lunch I'm actually more awake and creative. Maybe it's in afternoon later in the evening or whatever. So think about that for you, and schedule your things around that. We're gonna talk about scheduling too and how important that is. Scheduling, especially social media. 'Cause I bet there's a few of you in this room that kind of get a little bit of that SMDD, social media distraction disorder goin' on. Alright? Okay, so here's one of my other things that I learned a few years ago. And I kinda' came up with this term W.I.N. which is write it now. Write it now. Meaning, everything that you ever want to remember or you think you'll need to remember, write it down. Somewhere. I write it in my phone. I have a couple of apps that I use, Evernote. Which you guys have all heard of that I'm sure. And 2Do which is a literal to do list, and they're in my phone, and I can quickly with those apps write down everything. And Evernote I put down everything I think I'll need to remember. Everything meaning like, I'm talking to a friend, a photographer and they go hey there's this really cool artsy movie. It's in black and white, I just saw it have you ever of it? I'm like no, I don't know what that. It's called so and so. And usually we're like oh cool I'm gonna have to check that out later on. And then later on you're, what was that cool movie this guy, and you're thinkin' and thinkin'. And like shit I knew it, I'm gonna have to call, unless you text your friend and then they're, oh I told you that. How much time did that waste? How much brain cells did you burn trying to figure that out? Instead I just pull out my phone, oh. Put the movie in my list. Movies to watch, boom. Now it's out of my brain. So the idea is you clear your brain, your brain your subconscious is not holding on to trying to remember something. And now you have more space. Literally this is a limited amount of space in your head so you guys know this right? Like you can't just keeping stuffing crap in there and it's gonna (laughs) it's gonna remember everything. I mean we forget. So, write it down, whether on your phone, on a piece of notepad where you keep it in. Write everything down. People's names anything that you need to remember. Just, random things. But the purpose is it gets it out of your head, and clears space for being creative. And honestly it sounds kinda' silly but this works. It has worked for me tremendously where I feel like, I can let things go. I'm just like, more stress free, more relaxed now. And I know, because of that search feature I can type into Evernote, movies, boom. All those movies come up. Oh I remember that, and sometimes I'll do that, I'm like I totally forgot he told me about this great movie a year ago, I haven't watched it. I'm gonna watch that tonight. Or whatever it is okay? The main idea it means, and you really gotta get with me on this, when you clear stuff out of your brain, even if you gotta nice young brain, it still needs space. The older you get the harder it gets to hold on to stuff that you don't need right now, okay? And this has been really helpful for me. Okay. Creating a focus environment. This is what we talked about earlier. How many of you have you your email that goes bing, bing, bing (laughs) all day long? bing. (laughs) I got some hands going up. Bing. Some of you guys out in the internet world, you probably know this too. In one hand it's like this satisfying yay! Somebody wants to talk to me. We get that sort of rush from that. On the other hand, it's whatever you're doing at the moment is now cut, and you're distracted. And you jump to that email and you answer it. Then you come back, that is so inefficient. That is the worst way to work in the world people. I don't care how good you at multitasking, is is impossible for you to work efficiently if you're constantly jumping from one thing to another. Turn it off, and schedule your email checking. Like I check my, I don't even do mine first thing in the morning. When I come into my office, first thing I do, I do my creative stuff. I write in my journal, I will write out a plan for the day, I'll maybe do some creative writing for my blog, whatever it is creative I turn off everything. I put on, I have noise canceling headphones that I put in, by the way those Bose in ear noise canceling, oh my god that's the best thing ever. Okay, put those things in, put on my little cool music and I just write. There's no, my phone's off, everything's off. And then, I take a break. Get up, get some coffee Check my phone, see there's no messages pending. I might check the email real quick, anything that I have to answer right now? Nope. Okay, good. Go back, turn everything off go back to work. Alright? So you create these bubbles, turning off the distractions on your phone. On your computer you can turn on, what do they call it? Distraction free whatever it is mode, you turn off the notifications, notifications. You can turn 'em off on your computer you can turn 'em off on your phone, disable them temporarily, keep to the work. It's really hard to do. For a lot of you it's hard to do, because you feel like you have to jump at everything little thing that pops up in front of you and you don't. You don't have to (laughs), if you check your email two times a day you're really good. That's plenty. Don't check it all day long. Okay, that's bad. Walk in distractions, I missed that one too. But walk in distractions and it, probably not for all of you or home based businesses but I have an office with several people in it. So people know if my door is closed, they can't just bust in and interrupt me. 'Cause that's distracting, very very distracting. And that leads into this. The idea, that distractions are literally the number one killer of productivity, and you look at any of the books on productivity they all in one way or another say minimize your distractions. That's what wrecks your day. That's what keeps us from going home at the end of the day feeling yes I got a lot done. Because there's days when you go home and you're like what did I do today? You know what you did? You worked all day jumping at emails, answering text messages, looking on Facebook, making somewhat pointless Facebook posts. Maybe answering phone calls, talking to people in your office, it's all stuff that you kind of think you need to do but you really didn't accomplish a whole lot of productive work. And those are those days that I don't like. I go home like down like, God I felt so busy, I'm tired but I really didn't get anything productive done. So how do we minimize that? Here's a quote I got from a hypnotist. Which I thought was really funny because "If you want to create amnesia," This is how hypnotists do it. "you should keep interrupting people "and change the subject. "The hypnotic explanation is that memory "is dependent on your state of mind, "so when you change your focus, "you're changing your state of mind- "which makes it hard to remember "what you were thinking about before." And this is what magicians use to distract you, and they're like okay look at these cards over here and they're gettin' some out of their pocket and you didn't even notice that they did something here. Or they're like okay now, look at me, look at me, look at me, and then at the same time they're doing this over here. And they just distracted you. And that's exactly what's happening, when our day is disrupted by little little things all the time. We're basically being, hypnotized or swayed by a magician. In the evil way. Evil, evil, evil. Alright. (sighs) Before I talk about this just, take that in for a minute. The distraction thing, let's just back that up one step. And think about that because, be honest with yourselves now. How are you being distracted all day long? And the reason I want to emphasize this is because it seems like oh yeah. I've heard that before but how many of you are gonna go home and do the same thing tomorrow? And let yourself be distracted. And I just want to really encourage you because I have forced myself to work on this, and to be better at this that it makes a big difference. In what you get done. And I couldn't do all the things and run all the companies that I do if I was allowing myself to be distracted constantly by little things. Alright? Alright. The next part of being efficient is building good habits. And this is another simple thing that applies to your whole life really. Is if you want to build a habit, whether it is the distraction, removing distractions, or being a better photographer or sales person, whatever it is. You got to build habits. And to build a habit you have to do it repetitively. And the problem was that, just like most new years resolutions or I'm gonna start going to the gym. You guys ever done one of those before? Is that we're trying to jump into something huge immediately. And the key, that I've found and that I've implemented this to a lot of areas in my life is to start very small and build a habit. And once that habit is there, and you feel like, okay this is my regular routine. Then, you increase what you're doing during that time. So you start to build the intensity of it. So for example, working out. I hate going to the gym. I feel like it's a waste of time to drive down to a gym when I can workout at home. I don't like I can working out at home either (laughs). (audience laughing) But I want to work out, I feel good when I workout. So my start for this, was I'm gonna tell myself I'm gonna do a body weight workout that's easy, and I'm gonna workout for five minutes. That's it. Five minutes. So I started this habit where I'd get up in the morning, stretch out, workout for five minutes really hard, and that's it I'm done. And then I go make my breakfast and get on with my day. And then after doing that for a month, or it felt like, okay every morning this what I do. I get up, it's easy. Then I increased that to 10 minutes. I was like ah I'm still feeling good. But I've got the habit already, and then I pumped that to about 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and now I'm about 20 to 30 minutes is all I need, and I got a good workout, and I'm good to go and my day's awesome. But I, if I'd say I'm gonna automatically start tomorrow with a 30 minute workout, probably would have lasted like three days, and then been ah I can't do this. Alright? So that was really really kind of significant for me and I started to apply that to other areas of my life where I needed a good habit. As I, start with the simplest smallest piece of that. Don't try to do everything immediately. It could be a habit of, one of the things I want to learn to do is to complement people on a regular basis. Just strangers, anybody. It's just like, I want to build that habit. It's nice. I want to complement people. But instead of saying I'm gonna go just lay on this full oh my god you look so beautiful today! I love your hair, your eyes, your shirt, your dress, oh that full folio thing is so beautiful. You're just an amazing vision of beauty and light. (audience laughs) Nice to see you have a nice day. (audience laughs) If I start with that, it ain't gonna happen right? So, I'll start with hey, I love your jacket. Okay, that felt good I can do that. I can do that right? So then you build that habit and it starts and then it gets more comfortable. Then it comes to I can start conversations with strangers now, more easily because I've built that habit of just starting with small things. To talk to someone, to say something nice like that okay? So habits you can build. Start small. Very similar here. Baby steps. Everything has to start small. And don't commit to the big thing. Even a big project could be a writing project. I've written several books on photography, and if I was to sit down and say okay. This whole month I'm gonna write a book. Like O-M-G (laughs) there's just no way. That's so overwhelming. Instead it's like, okay today I'm gonna write for 15 minutes. Pop. And I'm gonna cut it off, I'm gonna set a timer. So that I can't write more than 15 minutes so that I know it will not take more than 15 minutes. And I start writing. Hey, good things happen. Maybe it's you get so excited after 15 minutes you just keep writing and it goes on to be an hour or two hours of writing. You like got a lot done. But has to start with a small commitment and just get that started okay? Laozi says "A journey of a thousand miles "begins with a single step." I don't think he said it like that but it's a good piece of advice for everybody. Here's another thing I love to do. Rewards. You guys already know I like coffee right? We talked about that enough, so far. Nespresso by the way, very good (laughs). (audience laughing) Allow yourself rewards. Whatever it is. For me it's a cup of coffee. And that's, my Nespresso machine is my reward (laughs). You know my little capsules, my oh my god little capsule! I get a capsule! Yoohoo! I just finished a whole blog post I get a capsule (laughs). (audience laughing) It's like, (slapping) that's really weird. (audience laughing) But plan your own (laughs), plan your own rewards. Sorry, getting excited. Whereas for you maybe it's taking a little walk around the block when you're done, maybe it's your favorite drink. Maybe it's, then you get to check your social media. Maybe actually going on your social media is a reward for you. So make it that, that you do your personal social media when you're done with a sprint of work, whatever it is that you need to do. Get it done and say okay, when I'm done, 11 o'clock, I'm gonna get it done, and then I'm gonna go on my social media for 15 minutes and check in with my friends and whatever. 'Cause that's like your ah! I need that. So whatever it is for you, figure it out, and plan that. Fun rewards are how we get things done. And it's no secret. Kids, anybody here have kids? One person? Wow, none of you are very productive. (audience laughing) You guys need to get out there. Okay. So those with kids you know, what's the best way to get kids to do something? Bribery, right? Bribery. It's positive reinforcement. It's rewards (laughs). A friend of mine, she started a little company called Nora and Leo and she creates these jewel boxes and stories that she gives the kids, little surprises and jewels that they collect whenever they do something great. It's been really really cool. But, same with us we like rewards. Okay? Here's another one. Shorten your work day. (clicking tongue) You know what happened when I went from 40 hours to 30 hours a week?
You got more productive. (Kevin laughs)
All of the above! I was more happy, I was more productive, I got more done. In 30 hours instead of 40. Why?
You're European? (audience laughing)
Maybe I'm (laughs) European. Yeah Europeans don't tend to be as crazy about work as the Americans do isn't it true? That's really really strange but work expands to fit the time allotted to it. So if you allow yourself, you say I've got an eight hour work day, you will fill that eight that hours with something. And you'll go home feelin' like you didn't get done nothing. Now if you got six hour work day, what are you gonna do? You're gonna say shoot I better get on it. I gotta get this done, this done, this done. You're gonna focus, you're gonna naturally kind of put aside those distractions that are getting to you and you're gonna get that stuff done. And you're gonna feel so much better at the end of the day because you got, just as much done in an eight hour, now you got two hours more to go play. Ride your bike, go play with the kids, whatever you're gonna do. So I've been, I keep think' what's the limit of how I could squish that (laughs)? I went from eight to six, maybe I can, can I go to four? Can I go to three? Can I go to two? I don't know. I'm kind of experimenting with that right now, and I honestly I try to go in, get it done, and get out. And if that means I'm out of there at lunch time each day then that's what I do. If I can get it done. But I don't plan an eight hour day. I never plan on an eight hour day and that's kind of the thing in my head, I'm not saying I have eight hours because I will go and I'll sit and I'll do four hours of work in eight hours if I know I have an eight hour day ahead of me. But if I go in there saying my goal is get out of here by lunch 'cause I want to go ride my motorcycle, or I want to go visit a friend or I want to go have lunch, a long lunch with a friend of mine or a client of mine or whatever. Then I know I'm gonna cram as much as I can before noon and amazingly I almost always get it done. In that time. It's kind of crazy how it works. So, think about that. Now the dreaded, social media distraction disorder. Oh my gosh. Isn't that just the weirdest phenomenon this social media thing? How it, it is designed purely, this is, I was reading this book, I think I have a quote in here somewhere. Oh the next slide I'll show you but, it's amazing how if you think about it social media is designed to make you less productive. All they want, all Facebook wants, all Twitter wants, Instagram want is for you to spend your entire day, flipping through stuff and posting and tapping and liking and hearting and whatever. They would like nothing more, they would make so much money if you spent your whole day distracted by their product. That's what it's designed to do. It doesn't mean they're evil, just means they don't really give a crap about your business (laughs). They offer you ways to advertise and all that of course 'cause they make more money from it. But, honestly it's a completely distracting thing by design. That's what it's for. And all of us are subject to it at some level. So I think it's, I feel empowered when I take control of that, when I decide when I want to be distracted and that's by scheduling these rewards or something like that. I decide, I'm gonna let Facebook distract me. I'm not gonna be a slave to it. And that's really powerful, okay? One of the other things that I also realize from this. I went to this seminar in Bend and this guy was a photographer. Gosh I wish I could remember his name 'cause it was really cool. But he did, somebody might have heard of him. He's actually kind of real famous now. But he started an Instagram and his whole photo process was he took pictures of portraits of people himself holding their phone. So it'd be like a scene of all you guys, everybody do this. And I'm totally, I wish I knew your name buddy if you're out there, I'd give you all the credit 'cause it's really really cool and maybe it'll come to me later, but I'm not rippin' off your idea I'm just sharing it and I'm gonna try to find out your name okay? So, he had everybody hold out your hand like you're looking at your phone right now. Okay? So then he's take a picture, boom of this room or people in a family at dinner tables whatever like that, and he'd show this picture, and you look at the picture and you're like oh my god that's bad everybody's on their phone. And then you realize wait they don't even have a phone in their hand (laughs). But we're so expecting to see people with their phones in their hand so it has this double impact as like, oh my god look at what we're like as a society. We're looking at our phones more than each other. On the other hand they're like, I didn't even notice there wasn't a phone in their hand 'cause we so expect to see a phone in their hand. In everybody's hand. And it was crazy and he, I think one of the things he said was he did a picture of him and his wife in bed. It was like from the ceiling lying in bed and they were both turned away from each other looking at their phones that weren't even there, and it's true. He showed the pictures in this, it was a TedEx Talk, he was talking and I saw him, and people would look at the picture and you don't notice at first that there's no phone. You just look at that and go, how sad. Here they are lying in bed, turning away from each other in bed, both looking at their phones. He says this is how we normally spend our night and once we saw this picture, we changed. We stopped. We checked our phones into a basket, and put 'em away when we come into the house, into the bedroom. And I love that. I really really loved his presentation. I'm gonna find out who it was and tell you guys to give him some credit.
Kevin? You ready for it?
Yes! Eric Pickersgrill. I got his card on my, (audience laughing) Eric Pickergrill. (man laughing) Thank you if you're out there. If anybody knows him. Please give him credit for really making a big impact on me, and I think that was a great photography idea. Somebody who really used their photography to make an impact on the world, and it made a big impression on me. And I realized, after his presentation, my wife and I both said okay, we're gonna put our phones down for awhile. And I realized, I come up with ideas when I'm bored. Creative ideas come to you when you're bored and you have to sit with your brain and think. And you can't do that if you're letting your phone distract you. And that's what I found so powerful and I'm trying to impress on my kids which is really hard (laughs). With kids, my teenagers. Put your phone down and be bored 'cause that's... When I get my son to put his phone down, he starts playing guitar, or he'll start drawing pictures but he won't do that unless I force him to put his phone down, and then he'll start doing these amazing creative things. And it's the same with us, and that we do that. Like, honey go do your homework. Go play practice your guitar. (audience laughing) Then we go through our phones and distract ourselves, like why don't we put our phones down and become creative again? Boredom is awesome. Boredom is how we get new ideas. So don't be afraid of the boredom. Don't fear the re, (laughs) my friend used to say, don't fear the reverb (laughs). It's just a reaper, okay nevermind. (audience laughing) (sniffs) That was a, what was that Black Sabbath? Don't Fear the Reaper?
Blue Oyster Cult.
Blue Oyster Cult! Thank you very much. Don't fear the reverb (laughs). That's a musicians joke never mind. (audience laughing) Let's go to the next one. So "Part of what makes social media insidious "is that the companies that profit from your attention "have succeeded with a masterful marketing coup, "convince our culture that if you don't use "their products you might miss out." Oh! If you don't use Facebook you're gonna miss out. You will not know what's going on in the world. A meteor strikes you will be the last to know, 'cause you're not on Facebook right now. Boom. Not so true. This is a great book by the way. It's in my book list at the end, but it's called Deep Work by Cal Newport, Rules for focused success in a distracted world. And this had a lot of great insight and information and ideas for how to lessen distractions in the world. Okay, so how can you use social media effectively? 'Cause we do have to except the reality that social media is where our clients get information about us. So, I'm not saying abandon it altogether. I'm saying make it smart use of it. So scheduling. We talked about that, your social media time. Make it your reward time. Or make it, say okay from, four to five in the afternoon before I leave the office, or maybe if you're like me from two to three before you leave the office, I'm gonna do my social media post for my business at that time. There are times of the day, do you guys know the best times of the day for social medical interaction? Anybody? Any ideas, yeah?
Five o'clock, yeah. At the end of the day is actually a really good time. In the evenings, some people say oh not on holiday, but actually holidays and weekends, sometimes afternoons. You think about like when do you kind of chill out and play with your social media stuff? And that's generally when your clients are gonna be doing it too. For a lot of people it's like the first, the morning toilet time, right? (laughing) Sit down on the toilet, scroll through your phone, whatever. If we actually knew when people were going to the bathroom that'd be such a genius marketing, like we need to have an app that can detect, (audience laughing) when they're going to the bathroom and they would send you a message like this is the time to post your social media.
Smart toilet (laughs).
Smart toilet yeah (laughs). Yeah. Follow me on my smart toilet. (audience laughs). Alright. Have a goal for every post. So, when you're gonna post something, it's not, and this is for your business. Now personally I don't care what you do, but for your business, there's a goal. Why are you making a post? Are you just saying, oh my gosh I just had the most fun with this latest client woohoo. What's the goal of that? To show that you're always super fun? I mean those kind of posts are kind of ridiculous, and I'm, kind of wanting you guys to not do those. I mean it's better than nothing maybe. But people look at that and go O-M-G. See how I pick up stuff from my kids. O-M-G. Nobody's happy all the time. No client is always perfect and I have people who post that. Every single post is like a picture from their latest shoot and oh my god, just had the best shoot with so and so. I love these people. Like, you don't love them, they're your client. You just met them. (audience laughing) You say that about every single person. Oh my god, I just had the best shoot with so and so and so. You're like, (gagging) Like people see through that now. Post something real. Post a story. Share something beautiful about the shoot, about the people, about the kids that you learned. How they effected you. There's always a story if you spend any amount of time with a client actually talking to them, you'll find that they have some little story or some little thing that you can incorporate. Find a way to make it personal, don't just do these gratuitous posts because it really looks kind of cheap these days. Okay? Give and take. So share helpful things, and ask for something. If you need to ask, hey I want you to book with me. Share something, post. Hey, here's a cool little tip for taking photos of kids. Three bullet points. You guys can do this right? You know the three tips you could give moms to take pictures of kids. Case in point, years ago I said I'm gonna do a class at the local community college on how to take better pictures of your kids. Some of the local photographer friends of mine's like oh you're crazy. You're gonna teach them how to put you out of a job. Like really, you think me giving them a one night class is gonna put me out of a job? I'd kind of suck if that's the case. (audience laughing) So they were like ah whatever. So I did this class and it was popular so we did several classes. It was just like a one night thing, or two nights I think it was two Friday nights. Two hours or whatever. And I would give them all these great tips on how to take better pictures of your kids just using a point shoot camera like that. And we had lots of fun in the class. And when the two night classes were done, what do you think happened?
You got clients. Most of them booked me to shoot their kids. 'Cause they realized it's not as easy as I thought, and I also got to show them lots of my fun pictures in the process. I didn't do any selling, all I said was here's a great example of kids running and jumping and here's a great example of kids lying on the floor, and they'd be like aw! aw! aw! (laughs). (audience laughing) And then I'm like here's how you would do it and I'd talk about, and I'd put my light right here, and you can use window light right here. Like, you don't have any lights that's fine, just do this, and they'd go and they'd try it and they'd realize mine aren't comin' out quite like his. (laughing) Like, uh can you shoot my kids? So that worked great. So I did that for awhile, just local college. And then I just stopped doing it 'cause I didn't have time to keep doing that but it's a... Same as social media. Offer something to help, then you can ask for something back. And sometimes you don't even have to ask because they'll just come to you. But it's different then if your always posting something like, come book my sessions. We have a special this week. Come book this session. That's good information but it's not gonna get people engaged. They want you to give something, and then they'll give you. Okay? Alright. Kind of we talked about earlier the boredom. But if we spend as much time, creating, as we do consuming. And a friend of mine, kind of doesn't really quote this but he said this to me a couple months ago. We were, he was looking at, my friend, a good friend of mine he loves watching videos, like cool, not talking about like Youtube anything, but just cool artsy videos. And he spends a lot of time just watching videos and he finally he told me, he says I realize I spend more time watching videos then I do, coming up with ideas for my own videos. And I said yeah you're right sometimes we just get obsessed with consuming media, instead of thinking about how can we create that media that other people consume. We want other people to consume our media, whether it's videos or photos or whatever, okay? So think about how much time are you spending consuming versus creating? And that's the balance that I think is really important for all of you individually. You're all different places. To look at honestly, do I spend more time consuming then I do creating? And if so, how do I change that?