It's that time of year when we're gearing up for the shoots to come, and we're focused on making this the best year we've ever had. It's also that time of year where we can get rid of some of the distractions and clutter that slow us down every day. It's spring cleaning time! Here are what I consider the 5 most important things for you to start cleaning up right away so you can feel better about yourself and your business this week!
The interesting thing about this list is that it’s organized in a way that is probably the most common order for people to do their spring cleaning in. The important thing to note, however, is that the reverse order is actually the real order of importance in this list. By that I mean, yes, you need to do all of these things in order to feel refreshed and ready to tackle what’s coming next in the year, but if you actually did them backwards you would feel EVEN MORE refreshed!
So, let’s get to the list in order of what you’ll probably do first, all the way to what you really should do first and most regularly.
5 - Your Workspace
If you run a studio, or have a home office, I’m sure many of you are just like me and put off cleaning and de-cluttering until it’s absolutely mandatory! And by mandatory, I mean that my wife puts her foot down and cuts everything out of my schedule until I clean it. Well, I just cleaned my office, and man do I feel great about it! When I do things I tend to go all out, which is why sometimes things like cleaning gets put off a bit. So when it came time to tackle my office, it was more of a hunt for stuff to get rid of than a re-organizing of stuff I don’t need. That’s what spring cleaning really needs to be. Not just organizing, not just dusting. Let’s take a good look at the stuff we have and consider what would happen if we didn’t have it. NOTHING!
A few photographers in our area got together for a swap meet last week and had a chance to purge some stuff. Go ahead and organize one! Throw some things on Craigslist that may be worth something, but if it’s not, just go on to one of your local Facebook groups and say you’ve got a bunch of stuff available and if nobody comes to get it that you’re bringing it to the Salvation Army or some other second hand store.
Bottom line…if you haven’t used it in 9 months, you’re not going to, and it’s taking up space.
4 - Your Gear
It’s that time of year for most photographers that we start shooting again. The winter is over, nice weather is coming out and we’re starting to book sessions again. This is a great time to take a bit of time in front of a movie or listening to some great music and clean your gear.
Your lenses could use some love, maybe your camera body needs a little crazy glue to keep the rubber down. Your batteries could use some organizing, and this is a great time to recycle your rechargeables and get a new lineup for the year. Clean out your bags, and I mean get out all the little crumbs and dirt and sand that may have made it’s way into each little pocket that could do some real harm to your gear.
It’s also a good chance to sell some gear that you don’t use, like I mentioned in the office clean up. If you suffer from GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) then I’m sure you’ve got a few things that you could do without.
3 - Your Website Portfolio
This really needs to be done more regularly than just once a year, but there’s no time like the present. I think you’ll find that trimming your portfolio will only help your business as you strive to curate your work in order to showcase your personal style of niche as a photographer. Don’t let the clutter of extraneous images, that only you have a connection to, be confusing to your potential customers. Deliver a solid representation of what you offer as a business through your portfolio, and anything that falls outside of your brand, get rid of it!
While you’re at it, take a look at your Facebook page and go through the photo albums in there. This is an area that we sometimes forget about, but it’s where some people will stalk you and find your OLDEST images that you wish nobody could see anymore. Well if you want to take those out of the view of the public, just do it. Go to your Facebook photo albums section and curate your brand on there as well.
Also, while you have Facebook open, let’s do a little social media cleanse for your news feed and get rid of some of the notifications and alerts that you really don’t need. I’m sure you’re in TONS of groups that you don’t really need to be alerted about actively. Go to THIS LINK, and it’s as easy as un-checking each of the groups you don’t want to actively have notifications from, and then leaving the ones that you do. This will be AMAZING for you if you’re like me and get distracted by ever beep of the phone and alert that seems like the most important thing in the world at the time.
2 - Your Body
This may be a bit of a stretch for the FStoppers site, but it’s worth mentioning for sure! If you’re going to go all out in business and get all geared up and ready for the year, let’s try to make sure you’re in the healthiest spot possible. You don’t want to be struggling to get out of bed to get to the computer and start working, so make some changes. This isn’t rocket science, but it’s hard to do, so here are the main things I suggest you do in order to start feeling better day to day.
1 - Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.
I know, I’m a night owl too, but it’s just so much better to get an early start to the day! You’re probably going to go to bed too late anyways, and then be woken up earlier than you want. Take control of your sleep and you’ll feel better throughout the day.
2 - Take a break from fast food and processed foods.
My wife and I just finished a 28 day cleanse and we’ve never felt so rejuvenated. We absolutely loved taking out some of the things that we really shouldn’t be eating in the first place, and now we’re happy to add some of them back in portions, but we’re excited to stay on a more healthy track of eating. Sure processed foods are easier to cook, but it’s amazing how much better you will feel in everything you do when you’re eating well.
3 - Get off your butt
We sit a lot, and I mean A LOT! It’s amazing how much we actually sit down in our lives, and we could all really use a little bit of get up and go in our lives. I suggest you set timers that go off every 50 minutes that let you get up and walk for 10 minutes, or every 25 minutes and walk for 5. Make it simple, and find something to do in that time so you don’t just walk to the fridge!
1 - Your Mind
This really should be the first and most common thing that you continually refresh and clean up. Our minds get so cluttered with so many things to do, people to please, goals to reach, ideas to create, and more! If we really want to be effective in any of these things, we need to de-clutter and restart every once in a while.
We have interesting jobs, because we tend to work when most other people are not. For the most part, we work on weekends and weekday evenings in order to work around our clients schedules, but then we work during the weekdays to get the rest of our jobs done. This leaves us with not a lot of time for ourselves and for time off if we’re not careful. I suggest that you commit to having a weekend, even if it’s in the middle of your week. Carissa and I have Fridays and Sundays that we don’t work at all, and it’s refreshing! Like a weekend is supposed to be!
The idea of Sabbaticals and regular vacations and stay-cations is so needed for so many of us. We feel like we’re constantly treading to stay above water, but what if we got sick and couldn’t take care of business for a week. The world wouldn’t stop, things would move on, compromises would be made, and we would take care of our bodies in order to get back to full health. Why not take a proactive approach to that and take that time off, make compromises, and refresh our minds! Our level of excitement when we come back will be so far beyond what it was before that we’ll be able to really efficiently get the things done that we need to and we’ll be ready to grow our business and personal lives in ways that we weren’t able to before. It’s time to stop treading water for a bit, grab on to the edge of the pool and hang out on a lounge chair. When you’re done sun-tanning you’ll be ready to jump back in the water and swim like you’ve never swam before. Ok, well, swim BETTER than you’ve ever swam before, not like you’ve NEVER swam before, that wouldn’t be any fun!
Photos by Mike Wedge