As a photographer, we are more than just a storyteller and chaser of light, although our social media feeds and polished websites can give that effect. We are actually so much more. There’s the creative passion that feeds our souls, that causes us to create and connect with individuals whose story we become part of when we take their photograph, but then there’s… everything else…
Aside from the photographer, we are also the entrepreneur trying to create a successful business that financially sustains us so we can continue to shoot. This entrepreneur title brings us the feeling of needing to ‘hustle’ like all the cleverly designed Instagram posts tell us to. The umbrella-heading of Entrepreneur is really just a nice title to include bookkeeper, social media strategist, copywriter, graphic designer, marketing guru, secretary, and the list goes on and on.
But this isn’t all we are. We are lovers and mothers and fathers, friends and sisters and brothers, children to parents who need more of us as time passes and a crucial member of our own budding families that we fear blinking in front of for fear we will miss all the little moments we capture for others.
So how do we maintain a work-life balance? And how do we maintain this balance especially if photography is our dream and we have an additional 9-5 on top of it all? Below are my favorite tips to be sure life doesn’t pass me by while I’m living my passion and capturing others at their best moments.
1 – Assess What Balance Means To YOU
Achieving and maintaining a work-life balance can mean different things to different people. For some, a balance might mean being able to take family vacations and being able to unplug FULLY during that time. For others, it could mean a consistent schedule of 6pm family dinners, making it to a 12pm yoga class, or working a set amount of hours every day. What does it mean TO YOU? Take some time to really think about this and then set a plan to make it your beautiful reality.
2 – Set Boundaries
This isn’t anything new. How often do people talk about setting boundaries as a means of taking back their personal lives? You need to set boundaries because it really is as crucial as people say it is. One of the most important boundaries to set are ‘work hours’. The photography world wasn’t designed for 9 to 5, but it does require some structure and assigned hours of being ‘open’ and ‘closed’. Set limits on how often you are checking email and set an autoresponder to inform potential clients that you care and will get back to them shortly. Set aside a day of the week where you’re ‘closed’ for business so you can be fully present with family and friends and whatever adventure comes your way. Make this consistent so it becomes routine and you aren’t left feeling disconnected from your businesses while you have a day off.
3 – Determine Priorities Daily
When you first sit down at your desk for the day, establish your priorities. These priorities are the tasks you MUST complete in the day. Schedule these out in order of importance to be sure the more important tasks are being done first. It’s always understandable new tasks will come up during the day, but setting your non-negotiable priorities of tasks that need to get done (like a deadline for a session to be returned to a client) ensures big tasks don’t get put off until it’s too late and deadlines are being met.
4 – Work Smarter, Not Harder
Working smarter, not harder, is a lesson that can take a while to learn. When we first start pursuing our passion of capturing the moments that make people come alive, we end up having to figure out all the other business stuff ourselves, which can lead to long nights of short progression, and moments we think ‘how did I get here?’. The work smarter, not harder, concept is really all about streamlining your work into more productive avenues. If you find you’re getting stuck somewhere or are hitting a creative block, don’t force it, walk away. Give yourself some space to let the task simmer on the back burner for a while. When you come back, you’ll feel refreshed with new energy and ideas. Eliminate distractions from your work space to stay focused, work in chunks to achieve small goals instead of trying to complete an entire project, and work around your strengths and weaknesses.
5 – Self-Care, Everyday.
We’ve become a society that values self-care but often only when it’s polished for social media on #selfcaresunday. Reclaiming consistent self-care is the best way to remain energized and connected to what drives your soul to begin with. Take some time each and every day for a ritual that allows you to relax and connect back in with yourself. My favorite thing to do is just step away from my editing and emails, leave my phone in a different room, and get down on the ground in the grass or dirt and be truly present with my kids. They are my reason for everything. This feeds my soul. I also like to take time to connect with myself while reading a book– even if it’s 15-minutes before bed. It feeds my creative energy and inspires me in unique ways.
Maintaining a work-life balance requires effort but it has the most beautiful reward when you can use your real life experiences with the ones you love to inspire the emotive prompts you provide to your clients. When you can recall a sweet moment with your partner from the previous day because you commit to dinner together every night, when you feel a renewed sense of creative energy at a shoot because you took a few moments of self-care, and when you finish a project because you prioritized the small tasks, you’ll feel like the work-life balance was worth working towards, because it is. It always is.
How do you achieve and maintain a work-life balance?
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