When I started my photography business my girls were just 5 and 2 years old, and since them my business has quite literally grown with them! The kiddos are now 15 & 12, and in that time I have learnt a few time saving hacks which make my life as a mum and full time business owner easier and a little less stressful. Some of these tips may sound super simple or obvious, but honestly they have saved my sanity on many an occasion!
online food shopping
When the kids were little I couldn’t think of anything more stressful than dragging them round a supermarket for an hour whilst keeping them happy and doing a full weeks shop. Just the thought of it all now makes me weary! I distinctly remember a year into running my business and after a particularly stressful shopping episode at the local Tesco’s, realising just how much time I spent every week on a chore I hated. As I packed the mountain of shopping away I worked out that in that month alone I had spent nearly 12 hours food shopping!! TWELVE HOURS!!!!! When I calculated how many trips I had made, how long spent in the supermarket, all the time packing & un-packing, I knew I could put that time to far better use by spending it with the kids, or getting on with work.
Now every Sunday evening (if I’m being organised!) I order an entire weeks shop in less than 15 minutes. It’s easy to scan barcodes with my phone and add them straight to my shopping list (the kids love helping with this!), and it stores all of my favourite items which makes adding them to my basket a breeze.
I signed up to Tesco Super Saver delivery and I cannot tell you how many hours of my life I’ve got back! It’s only £6.99 per month, you can place as many orders as you like, delivered straight to your door. It’s saved me so much time, energy and money. Hands down, the best £7 I spend each month!
Everyone has those annoying tasks and errands to run, and I was finding that a lot of energy was spent on doing little jobs here and there without thinking about how to make the best use of my time. I took a look at all the back & forth I was doing and realised that if I grouped tasks together and did them all in one go then it would make more sense than doing lots of little trips every day. Instead of making 3 post office runs a week, I now wait until I have a few things that need posting and block them together so I only need to make one trip. And while I’m at it, I’ll tag on other little errands that I may need to take care of whilst I’m out and about. I also stopped “popping out” during my kid free work hours in the day, and instead I now do these jobs on my way to collect the kids from school so that I’m not eating into my work time. Thinking about common tasks that can be grouped together and all be done at once will save you lots of time.
I don’t know about you, but I used to leave my inbox open ALL DAY whilst I was working. The continuous “ping” as yet another email landed in my inbox was a massive distraction, and I found myself constantly stopping what I was working on to answer each email as it came in. I was wasting so much time in my inbox, and finding it hard to get back into the work I was supposed to be doing! Now I don’t open email until lunchtime, which means I get a full morning working on my business before I have to answer other peoples requests. I will spend maybe 20-30 minutes replying to emails before I eat lunch, and then check them again in the afternoon before I head out to do the school run. I also try not to open emails on my phone if I can, and only check them from my desktop computer.
I am a big procrastinator and it drives me insane!! I can get so easily distracted from the task in hand, and end up checking Instagram, looking at Facebook, washing the dishes – anything other than getting the job done that I was meant to do!! Sometimes being your own boss is hard, it can be impossible to stay focussed and motivated all of the time. But I found a way that helps keep me on track…
I will take similar tasks and lump them together, this helps to stay focussed because I’m not flitting from one unrelated task to another. They are all in a similar group, so it’s easier to stay in that mindset. For example : If I need to write a blog post, I won’t just write one post, I’ll write 3 or 4 because I’m in a “writing mindset”. Similarly, I may have a “website morning” where I focus on anything web related that needs attention, or an “album design afternoon”. Sticking to one type of task for a dedicated period of time seems to help me achieve more because I’m not wasting energy switching from one thing to another.
set clear boundaries
Weddings are mainly during weekends, so when I have a free weekend or a fee Sunday I am quite protective of that time with my family. I set working hours for myself that I try to stick to, and I make my work days fit around school hours and family life. Monday – Friday my work day starts at around 9.30am after the school run and my morning walk with Barney. I try to wrap up work by 3 – 3.30pm, then I collect the kids from school. I only work in the evenings if I have client calls, and these are always scheduled for Monday and Thursday evenings when my kids are out at clubs, so I’m not using up family time.
I also don’t work during school holidays apart from shooting weddings and answering emails because I want to spend that time my kids. I can’t get that time back, and they are growing up so fast. It’s really important for me to plan my work calendar so I can spent the holidays with them rather than working. I block out my editing time far in advance in my diary so I know everything will be completed within the deadlines. This system works well for me and means I can enjoy the holidays guilt free without worrying about work!
Having that time as a family is so important, the break away from work keeps me fresh and excited about the weddings I am shooting and my business now fits around my life, not the other way around. Thats the beauty of being self employed, you can design the life you want – but it won’t happen unless you plan for it, so block time off for yourself on your calendar and stick to it!
I hope you find these time saving hacks useful in your business, let me know how you get on and what changes you make! If you enjoyed this article then check out this blog post. I have created a FREE ebook just for you with lots of tips on how to market your business for free, so click here to grab it now!