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RACHEL DOWNEY PHOTOGRAPHY

Productivity hacks to beat the burnout and get shit done: Part II

How’s the new year treating you so far? Feeling productive? Feeling good? Slowly losing your mind and need some help? If you haven’t read part I yet, go check that out first, and feel free to take the time to implement these productivity tips at your own pace. No one can do everything all at once, but that being said… We’re jumping right into part II with more productivity-boosting tips to get your ass in gear:

7. Find other people to work with

This one can be a game changer!

I mean, first of all, it’s nice to interact with other humans sometimes. If you’ve been shut up in your workspace for too long and can’t remember what sunlight looks like, set up a co-working date with one of your friends. It’s like…socializing with training wheels. You get to sit with other humans in a different setting while you’re all working.

And secondly, there’s something about being around productive people that pushes me to be more productive. It’s harder to let your brain wander off task when you have an audience.

…And you could probably do with some socialization, to be honest. Get out of your editing cave and answer emails over coffee with a friend. Shower first.

8. Stop trying to multitask

Ohhh was I ever guilty of this one!

We want to think we can do it all, we want to think we can be oh so much more efficient if we just…combine these tasks.

Spoiler: you’re sabotaging yourself again.

If you want to listen to a true crime podcast while you’re editing, go for it. I’m all about it. But if you think you’re more productive while trying to simultaneously edit, answer emails, and brainstorm blog posts, you’re just… wrong.

Let your brain focus on one thing at a time, and it’ll run much more smoothly. It’s like trying to slam your car into both drive and reverse at the same time. All you’re doing is grinding your gears.

…Also I don’t think that’s possible. Please don’t try it.

9. Batch your tasks

This is sort of like the previous tip but…different.

Go to your multitaskers anonymous group, and once you’ve got a grip on that, let’s talk about batching tasks. This one only works if you’re disciplined enough to stick to the task at hand and only the task at hand, but once you do, you’ll probably amaze yourself with your wizard-like efficiency.

This is one that I didn’t really appreciate until I started doing it, even though I’d heard it a few times.

Basically, the goal is to stick to one type of task to encourage your brain to work more efficiently. Don’t want to bog things down with too much science, so anecdotally: I bet a lot of you do this in your personal life without even realizing it. Think about it: do you ever wash one window, then hoover the carpet under that window, then wash the next window, then hoover the carpet under it… No. You wipe down all the windows, then hoover a few rooms. It makes more sense to keep wiping down the windows in a row, then doing all the hoovering at once, rather than completing that “workflow” for one of them before starting on the others.

In photography land, that can mean culling two or three sessions in a row rather than the cull-edit-cull-edit swap. Efficient culling requires rapid decision-making, detachment, and surface-level interaction. Keep-keep-reject-keep-flag-etc. Editing is a more nuanced process that requires more attention to detail and an artistic eye, rather than a critical one. Switching back and forth between the two is the opposite of optimization. (Sorry for the photographer-only examples, but I write what I know)

Forcing your brain to switch back and forth only slows you down while you reset. Keep your brain in one “mode” at a time, and you’ll get through things much more quickly.

Another way to think about task-batching is with your calendar. Why take the time to fix your hair and wear real pants and get in the car to run an errand, for just one errand? If you can lump all of them into one morning, you save a lot of time in the long run.

And wear pants much less often. Priorities.

10. Automate

I seriously can’t stress this enough. I should have put it higher on the list but we’re more than halfway through now and I just can’t commit to those kinds of drastic changes.

First of all, if you don’t have a CRM yet, what are you even doing. I’ve talked about this before, so if you want some more information, check that out.

I use Dubsado for all of my client management tasks, but one of my favourite things about it is the email automation. Not only do I save several canned emails for things I routinely send to pretty much everyone–there’s no need to re-write the same email over and over and over–but I can schedule them to send at set times. And I don’t even need to do that scheduling by hand!

In Dubsado, you can set up workflows for different types of clients. If, for example, you always send out a questionnaire at a set time before a wedding, just add that to your workflow. You won’t even have to think about it; Dubsado will send the form off to your clients without you having to devote brain space to it. Do less work, but get more work done.

It’s freaking magic.

If you’re interested in trying out Dubsado, they have a trial period that lasts for three full client workflows, not a set period of time! Mess around with it, see if you like it, and when you’re ready to pull the trigger, use the code “racheldowneyphoto” for 20% off!

You’re welcome. Just looking out for you over here.

11. Give yourself time off

Seems counter-intuitive, right?

Look, as much as we all want that elusive “work-life balance,” sometimes, it’s not as achievable as we’d like it to be. I work two jobs right now; it’s just not possible for me to have the kind of balance I’m looking for. My business is young, and “the hustle” is just a fact of life.

That being said.

Pushing yourself to the point of burnout won’t help you. Most days, I get home from one job, feed the dog, feed myself, and start work on my other job. Then I go to bed. But sometimes, I just can’t. It’s not something I can keep up 7 days a week, every week. I’ve learned the hard way that, when my body is screaming at me to freaking take just one evening off, I should listen. I don’t mind working a little every day, but I never stay up until 2am working on stuff–see part I about my old lady bedtime. I’d much rather get some sleep and get back to work the next day; I’m 99% useless at 2am anyway.

Give yourself permission to “not.” To sit on the sofa, watch TV, cuddle your dog, read a book, ignore your work for an afternoon. I’m still working on this myself; “not working” a major source of guilt for me, because I’ve gotten so used to being “busy” all the time. The goal of all of this though, all these “hacks,” is to be the right kind of busy, not just busy for the sake of doing something.

Anyway. Join me as I learn how to take breaks, because they are important and useful.

It’s ok. You can get back at it later, recharged. Who knows, maybe a break is what your brain needs to solve some problems in the background! You’d be surprised…

12. Change of scenery or activity

Diiiiiiid you know there’s science to back this one up?

Of course there is. And I am here to present it for you.

Getting yourself out of your usual workspace can jumpstart your productivity for a few reasons. For starters, when you take yourself off to a coffee shop or a library or something, it’s usually with a clear “I am going to get work done” intention. Our brains also crave new stimuli and change, however much we may claim to hate it. Shiny object syndrome.

Changing things up can shake loose the cobwebs and force your brain to come at a problem from a different angle, or think about things in a way you hadn’t before.

And if you’re a hermit who refuses to leave the house? Try working on something else. If editing is making your eyes roll back in your head (time to outsource that shit), sit yourself down to write blog posts instead, even if that wasn’t on your schedule for the day. If you have the wiggle room, take full advantage when you feel inclined to work on something.

…I’m not saying that you can wander around willy nilly with no discipline, only working on what you “feel.” You know better than that.

Get it together.

13. You have to start

Sounds both corny and obvious, right?

It can often be the hardest part, though. Remember what we said before about breaking up large tasks into smaller ones? That’ll help. Sometimes, when we have some monumental task hanging over us–especially one that we’ve never done before or don’t know anything about–we put it off and off and off for a multitude of reasons. Then, at least for me, it gets harder and harder to start the longer I put it off.

Here’s a trick I learned from… somewhere, I don’t know, I’m sorry:

“Do one thing.”

Whether it’s dishes, editing, blog outlines, whatever. Wash one bowl. Type out one bullet point of that outline. And then you can totally walk away.

I know, it sounds really strange, but if this is a weird brain thing that you struggle with, give it a try! Works for me more often than not. I can convince myself to “do one thing” if I know I can walk away from it quickly if I want to. Most of the time, I end up doing more things, and that’s kind of the point. You have to start. And starting is often the hardest part. Once the ball is rolling, it’s easier to keep it going.

 

 

Hope this was helpful, my sweet baby angels! Let me know in a comment if any of these were helpful, or new to you, or if you have suggestions of your own!!

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