Concentration and focus are among the most crucial skills to master as a freelancer and photographer. Being productive in your workspace is the key to gaining an edge over others when it comes to the basics. In this article, I have collected 11 of my best hacks for maintaining daily productivity.
1. Prioritize Planning and Organization
The first step toward leading a more productive lifestyle is effective planning and organization. This involves creating to-do lists, jotting down important tasks, and keeping a notebook. While I do keep some of my to-do items digitally, it is the act of physically writing things down that aids in better task recall. Consider investing in a quality Moleskine notebook, it will prove invaluable.
2. Master Time Management
It's easy to get sidetracked and spend too much time on tasks you shouldn't be doing. Personally, I sometimes procrastinate by tidying up or handling miscellaneous home errands. While taking breaks is important, knowing how to manage your working time versus your leisure time is crucial for efficiency. Remember, we all have the same 24 hours in a day; it's up to you to manage your allotted time effectively.
3. Create an Inspiring Workspace
I place a high value on having an inspiring workspace. Your workspace should be functional and motivational. For me, this means working on a desktop setup rather than on a laptop. Although there are occasions when using a laptop is unavoidable, I always strive to work from my desktop setup instead of just using a laptop in bed or at a café. Additionally, surrounding yourself with small inspirational items, like an aroma lamp, can create a work-conducive environment every time you use it.
4. Set Clear Goals
You have numerous tasks to complete each day, and it's impossible to accomplish everything in a single day. Knowing how to prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency is crucial for efficiency. Just because something is urgent doesn't necessarily make it important, and vice versa. I categorize my to-do items into four categories: urgent and important, urgent and not important, not urgent but important, and not urgent and not important. I prioritize addressing urgent and important tasks first, which may include meeting image deadlines or working on an article.
5. Invest in Continuous Learning
Learning might not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering productivity, but it is closely linked. Photographers often fall into the trap of sticking with the same methods and techniques, both on and off set. While effective, this can hinder your personal development. A productive photographer continuously expands their knowledge as it exercises the brain.
6. Delegate and Outsource
You're not a one-person operation. Chances are, you need an accountant to manage your business, at the very least. From there, consider hiring a retoucher or even finding a producer. Outsourcing allows you to focus on what's truly important: your creativity. As an artist, free yourself from tasks that don't inspire you; for me, that would be retouching.
7. Utilize Efficient Editing Techniques
Knowing how to edit your work efficiently saves time and strain on your eyes. I advocate using presets for this reason, but not just any presets—create your own. This greatly assists in developing your unique visual style. Embracing automation is also essential. I use a lot of Photoshop actions when I need to. As well as that, although I do use my own presets to edit images, I still go ahead and make adjustments unique to the specific image. I have learned which instrument does what, and this knowledge allows me to make beautiful edits in no time. I would strongly suggest learning and playing around with your editing software to really get a hang of what everything does and how they work in combination.
8. Limit Distractions
Limiting distractions is self-evidently crucial for enhanced productivity. I'm easily distracted by things as significant as an email and as trivial as a fly on the wall. That's one reason I use a monitor hood—it narrows my field of vision and helps me stay focused. Another helpful tactic is installing apps that block access to certain websites, such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. I personally use an app called SelfControl, available for free on the Mac App Store. Additionally, keeping your phone on silent and out of arm's reach helps minimize distractions.
9. Embrace Automation
If you can't outsource, automation is your next best option. There are solutions available that can sort through your photos, group them, and select the ones in focus, among other tasks. When I used to shoot events, I often relied on the auto-edit feature to process images more quickly. This is especially important when dealing with high volumes of work. Even if you primarily work in Photoshop, consider creating actions that save time on repetitive tasks. Another useful program is Retouch4Me, which offers AI-enabled presets for efficiently retouching multiple images at once.
10. Practice Self-Care
Taking care of yourself may not seem directly related to productivity, but it plays a significant role. Neglecting self-care can lead to fatigue, which hampers your ability to work efficiently. Taking time off, engaging in physical activities, or pursuing hobbies can help clear your mind and keep your mental engine running smoothly. In essence, regular maintenance for your brain is essential, so make self-care a priority.
11. Network and Collaborate
Networking is another point worth emphasizing. Knowing how to make efficient sales is a direct path to increasing profitability. Being an effective salesperson can attract higher-paying clients, allowing you to take on fewer assignments. Perhaps only three clients a month can meet your income targets. Productivity in this context involves being approachable, likable, and memorable.
These are my tips for becoming a more productive photographer. They have helped me establish a more efficient business model while working fewer hours and earning more. If you follow these tips, I believe you will see improvements in your life and a greater sense of efficiency. Have you found any productivity tips that have made a difference for you? Feel free to share them in the comments below!