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In every career, it can be difficult to strike the right balance between work and life. Finding a work-life balance is even more challenging for small business owners. 

Pro Tip

When you own a photography business, you’ll spend long hours on marketing, communicating with clients, planning concepts, shooting, culling, editing, retouching, and more. There is much to be done in 24 hours, that’s why it is crucial to prioritize finding a work-life balance that works for you.

Running your business successfully is important. But it’s equally important to take care of yourself, make time to relax, and spend time with the people you love. It’s not easy, but these steps will help you find a healthy work-life balance.

Photographer planning her day.

Step #1Establish a Workflow

Establishing a consistent workflow helps you stay organized and run your business more smoothly. When you have clear processes in place, you’ll feel more efficient and less overwhelmed.

Outline a step-by-step process for important tasks like:

·       Booking

·       Deposits

·       Contracts

·       Client communication and follow-ups

Plan how many hours you’ll work weekly/monthly and when you’ll be available to speak with clients. When and how often will you work on editing, marketing, and administrative tasks? 

You’ll save time and have a less stressful experience when you create and stick with a streamlined workflow.

Pro Tip

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Step #2Set Boundaries

If you take just one tip away from this post, it should be this one. Boundaries are the most essential key to a healthy work-life balance.

Boundaries are hard for some of us, but it’s important to remember that creating and holding boundaries isn’t rude. They protect your time, energy, and peace of mind. Sticking to your boundaries doesn’t mean you don’t value others- it means that you value yourself.

Here are a few ways that you might want to start setting boundaries in your business:

  • Decide what type of photoshoots you will and won’t take on
  • Stay firm on your prices and policies. 
  • Set your preferred working hours (the hours you’re available for client communication)
  • When you’re on vacation, set up an autoresponder telling clients when you’ll return 

When clients test your boundaries, be polite and kind, but firm. You’re allowed to say “no.” You’re allowed to turn away difficult or disrespectful clients. You don’t have to answer your phone at 10 p.m. You don’t have to bend over backward or change your policies to accommodate anyone. 

By setting and sticking to boundaries, you’ll prevent excessive late nights, challenging situations, and unpleasant clients. You’ll have more peace and more time for yourself and your loved ones.

Step #3Outsource

Play to your strengths by doing the tasks you excel at and love. When possible, outsource the rest. 

If graphic design, marketing, or accounting aren’t your thing, hire someone to manage these tasks for you. You can also consider outsourcing tasks that are especially time-consuming.

Build these costs into your pricing so you don’t have to spread yourself too thin. If outsourcing isn’t possible year-round, outsource a few tasks during your busy season.

Another option is to outsource some of your household tasks. Pick up your groceries instead of going grocery shopping. Get help with cleaning and laundry, or hire a babysitter for a few hours so you have extra time to focus on your work. Remember, you don’t have to be all things to all people all the time.

Step #4Block Tasks

Multitasking feels productive, but it usually wastes more time than it saves—and it’s stressful. Set aside regular blocks of time for major tasks. For instance, you can have shoot days, editing days, and a day or two devoted to marketing and administrative tasks.

Of course, you’ll need to be flexible sometimes. But having days or hours blocked for specific tasks increases productivity and makes running your photography business more manageable.

Step #5Know What Works for You

What time of day are you most productive? If you’re a morning person, start the day with your most challenging tasks. If you work better in the evening, save your tough, high-concentration tasks for later. 

Similarly, know what work environment is best for you. Invest in a comfortable chair and good lighting. Keep your workspace clean, organized, and inviting. Does a change of environment sometimes help increase your productivity? If so, plan to spend a few hours a week in a local coffee shop with good Wi-Fi. 

Also, consider what helps you clear your mind when you’re feeling uninspired. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or play with your kids or pets. Cook a favorite meal or soak in a warm bath. 

Some people feel like they’re wasting time when they take a break. But investing a little time to feel refreshed and rejuvenated will save you a lot of time in the long run.

What works for your photographer friend might not work for you. Figure out what time, workspace, and break activity make you most productive, and integrate them into your workday. 

Women blocking out distractions.

Step #6Evaluate Distractions

Are there any major distractions that interfere with your productivity? Identify your distractions and create a plan to minimize them. 

For example, place your phone in a drawer and only take it out when you’ve completed an hour of focused work. The minutes you save on aimless scrolling will quickly add up to more free time for yourself.

Step #7Be Realistic

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day, week, or month. When you’re starting a business, you can’t accomplish everything overnight. Give clients reasonable turnaround times. Don’t try to complete 50 tasks in three days. 

It’s also important not to obsess over perfection. Sure, you want your logo to look great. But you don’t need to overanalyze every little aspect and redo it 100 times.

Remember that mistakes are an inevitable part of owning a business. Don’t spread yourself too thin trying to avoid mistakes or get down on yourself when they happen. Focus on the lessons you learn and what you can do to continue improving each day.

When you have realistic expectations and goals, you’ll be able to turn off your “work brain” at the end of the day and spend time on what makes you healthy and happy.

Step #8Prioritize Self-Care

Self-care is not an option. It’s not something you’ll get around to if you have the time. It’s essential, and you must make the time.

Many financial experts advise treating your monthly savings deposit like a must-pay bill. In the same way, treat self-care like a must-do task. Set aside time for the activities and people you love. Exercise, eat nutritious meals, and get plenty of sleep.

If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not taking care of your business either. Your productivity will inevitably suffer, and so will your passion. Self-care is not selfish or a waste of time. It’s an investment in your happiness and health, as well as the health of your photography business.

Mom working and her child asking her a question.

Final Thoughts

When you launch your photography business, it’s all too easy to let the business consume you. You may feel like you need to push yourself to the limit and work around the clock to make your business a success. Unfortunately, this mindset is a recipe for burnout.

Think of a healthy work-life balance as an essential ingredient in the recipe for success. Have realistic expectations for yourself, set firm boundaries, and prioritize self-care. Establish a consistent workflow and outsource dreaded tasks that consume too much time. Create a schedule and a workspace that makes you most productive. Find effective strategies to eliminate distractions. 

As you establish your business, always consider ways to minimize stress and maximize productivity. By doing so, you’ll free up more time for yourself, your favorite activities, and the people you love. A happy, well-balanced business owner is a more successful business owner!


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