Stay Sane While You Slay: Productivity Tips for the Busy Solopreneur
Happy June! If you're a photographer like me you are definitely in the middle of wedding saturday after wedding saturday after wedding saturday (and maybe a few fridays, and maybe 2 in one day...just me?) Well wedding season is a fun way to see just how mentally strong you are :) If you're not a photographer, thats ok, you're most likely a boss babe of some kind and this post is just for you, so hey!
So this blog is about how I use certain apps to help keep myself sane, as well as how I stay productive working on my own. If you're not so busy that you can hire an intern or an assistant but you're not not busy this may be useful. This is for the girlboss in the middle, where you need 80 ways to organize yourself, stay on task, not slack off and get shit done. By yourself though. You're a solopreneur! And while it may be fun to be your own boss, make your own rules and create your own schedule, lets be honest, its hard as hell. Not having a 'boss' or accountability partner can be a challenge. If you've ever struggled in this department, hopefully some of these things that I try to do can help you continue to kick ass.
How to Rock this whole "Work From Home" thing
I have a studio in Atlanta's photographers playground aka The Goat Farm Arts Center, but my studio/office is so quiet its hard to sit there for hours just staring at my computer. So like all other girlbosses, I'm either working from home or working from a hotel. And when Im feeling super boss-ish, a cute coffee shop. Working from home or on the road can be a challenge but I've found some ways to actually be productive around all my things:
Make your bed. Get dressed.
When I wake up, I immediately make my bed so that I'm not tempted to jump back in. Then I take a shower and get dressed like Im going to meet up with someone for coffee. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not, but I dare not hang around the house all day in my sweats. Something about wearing pants makes one feel like they should always be doing something.
Sit up. At a desk or table.
After I have on said pants, I set up everything I need at either my desk or dining room table. Like everything so that I don't have to keep getting up, chargers, coffee, notebooks, whatever it is. I turn on my sound system to a cool station on 8tracks.com (or Drake or Beyonce as of late) and I work work work in the zone. If I really need to pay attention, I'll turn the music off, but for editing a wedding with 2000+ photos, I def need music to stay sane.
Take a Lunch.
If you were working a 9-5 you would be counting down the minutes until it was time for you to take your lunch break. So when working from home/the road, be sure to do the same. Get up, break, go grab something to eat, relax on the couch, take a walk. As a solopreneur, chances are you already work more hours than the average person (when have you ever started working at 9 and then stopped on the dot at 5 until the next morning? Hahahah! That was funny.) Anyway, go eat something. We cant be working past midnight running on just morning coffee and an evening red bull. I mean we can but I don't advise it).
Online Business Tools + Apps I Love
I am always on the hunt for business tools and apps that make me feel like I have a radass intern even though I do not. I'm my intern. I hope I'm doing a good job, I need the credit.
Wunderlist- (Online + App) Cost- Free
Wunderlist is the to-do app that I had been looking for for months. You can use if from your phone or your desktop (notifications come on both) and you can create lists (home, work, groceries, etc) that you can keep to yourself or share with others. My favorite feature is that you can create a task and set two separate reminders: one for the day its due and then a time you want to be reminded that that due date is coming up; which I need for everything) Wunderlist is my unofficial accountability partner. She's such a boss.
Sunrise Calendar (Online + App) Cost- Free
Update: Sunrise is going way in a few months. I got so mad when I got this notification. Now I have to find something else. Will keep you posted.
This is the calendar app I use rather than that one that comes standard in your iphone. It syncs to any calendar you have and its sooooo cute. It also has an online version. I hate the regular iphone calendar which is why I had a goal to find a cuter, better one.
Calendly (Online) Cost- Free
Calendly is amaze and makes you look and feel so legit. I had been trying to find something like this for months. I mention “why isn’t there an app…” one time to my business bestie Porsha Thomas who knows all things business and she's all like “oh, you're talking about calendly” and went back to sipping her coffee.
So Calendly is a program that allows you to send out appointment scheduling links to anyone you want for anything, so that they can put themselves on your calendar based on what you’ve made available. So no more endless email threads going back and forth like “can you do Monday at 8?” “no what about Wednesday at 3?” “ah, im busy, how about Saturday at…” I hate that.. If you are super busy and always setting up meetings, appointments, shoots, whatever…download this now. I sent this link to 5 people the first day I discovered it and a scheduling monster was born. When you value your time, you'll find a way to make it stretch.
Cloze (Online + App) Cost- $
Cloze is an app that helps you follow up with your clients on a regular basis. It shows you when you haven’t spoken to someone in a while and asks if you need to reach out. You can send emails straight from cloze, open attachments, anything that your email would do, but with a little extra like setting reminders to follow up on this day at this time about this thing, so on and so forth. This is good for a super, super busy girlboss that needs a little extra help in making sure follow ups don’t slip through the cracks. It's a little pricey at like $20 a month though, so if you aren’t super, super busy, making your own reminders in your calendar app should hold you over until you're ready to spend that dough.
Quickbooks (Online + App) Cost-$
Y'all. If you are accepting payments for a service or product and don't have quickbooks...please stop what you're doing and create an account. And open a business checking account if you haven't done that either. Anyway...I process all of my payments and do all of my accounting and bookkeeping through quickbooks. And lucky for me they also have a handy dandy app. When I’m on the go or just away from my computer but want to remember whose payment I'm waiting on (because it makes me feel better to know I have payments pending at all times) I just log right on it from wherever I am. It even syncs your paypal account if you take payments through paypal as well. Accounting. Do it.
Adobe eSign (Online + App) Cost-$
So I send my contracts (plus reminders to please sign said contracts) out through Adobe eSign. Anything I can do from my computer I can do from the app as well. As long as you have the document available to attach you can send anything from your phone...which is why I also have….
Google Drive (App) Cost- Free
Rarely do I use the online version (I don't have a team of people to share with), unless I'm dropping something in there to later use via the app when I'm on the go. I drop commonly used templates in my google drive just in case I need to do something and don’t have my computer. Most often I pull out email templates I have saved for common inquiries so that I can answer quickly. Girlboss tip #53: New clients close with me quickly, not just because I’m a radass photographer, but also because I respond to their inquiry with lightening speed. Ain't nobody got time to wait 24-48 hours for somebody to respond to an initial inquiry....
Google Docs (App) Cost- Free
To edit a word doc in the google drive app, you have to open it in your google docs app, so those apps go hand in hand on a phone. I use this if I truly need to do a contract or something on the fly. That closing tip is not. a. game. Make it work wherever you are, whether you're in the airport or an uber and get those deposits girl!
Google Analytics (Online + App) Cost- Free
Why is google taking over my life? I check the google analytics on this here website about 1000 times a day. So essentially I am stalking my stalkers Google analytics is a great way to see where your website visitors are coming from and what they are looking at and for how long and its addicting so don't do it too long otherwise that defeats the purpose of this productivity blog, heh. It also helps me see what pages on my website I should work on based on the length of time people stay and where they go (or don't go) after they leave that page. So during downtime in between client work, I'm working on making my website better.
I asked you all on Instagram and Facebook to let me know if there was anything specific you might want to hear my take on. One of my readers wanted to know what she can use to get rid of junk mail. Well every few months I open my Unlistr app and a unsubscribe myself from mailing lists that I have been subscribed to. Nowadays, if you're email is listed anywhere, someone will take it and add you to their mailing list themselves. Rude, but it happens. This helps me keep my inbox clean whenever it starts getting out of hand with the junk mail. Only open this app when you have about 10-20 minutes that you don't need your phone for anything; it takes a while to clean all your emails the more junk you have.
Another reader wanted to know how I organize my general weekday.
I get up, get out of the bed (key action right here, technically I don't ever have to get out because I'm my own boss and I work from home) and make the bed. I straighten up my house because that in turn takes out any distractions. Whether Im meeting up with someone or running errands or not, I get dressed like I am. I work a good part of the early morning and afternoon when I have the most energy. My tv is usually off also, but I'll have music on. I answer emails in the morning, other emails that come through, I will wait to answer until late afternoon (unless they are time sensitive, in which I answer as soon as possible). I take a break, have coffee with a friend or do something fun and then if I do not have an evening shoot lined up, I will start working again until dinner. Ill eat dinner which I probably did not cook, and edit more and maybe answer a few more emails, work on wedding day schedules, send reminder emails, check on payments due or received, make travel arrangements, check my wunderlist to make sure I completed all my tasks and double-check my calendar to see what's going on tomorrow. Also, at night I typically do my best brainstorming on how I will dominate the world and I scribble notes and ideas until midnight-ish.