Sure we see it all the time on social media. That one lady who takes a gorgeous selfie with a "messy bun", and quotes that is what life is like working from home.
Never in my working from home have a had a gorgeous selfie, or a messy bun that is cute (note--my messy buns are probably because my hair is so tangled and some bird may have found a home to nest in). But we all look at these other people who seem to have it all put together. The backgrounds in their home look organized, their work space seems picture perfect. Then we look at our homes and think I must not be doing it right! How can these other photographer/business owners be doing it all? Making huge sales all while tending to their kids every needs, home is spotless and blogs are delivered on a precise time schedule that would make any drill Sargent impressed.
But what you are not seeing is where they do not have it all put together. Where they fall may be where you shine.
For example, I am a big morning person. I am up every day at 5:30 to take the kids to swim practice, and because of this I have a huge jump on the day compared to those who sleep in. But guess what? I miss out a lot on the late night opportunities on social media when my competitors are up making the hustle happen. Does this mean them or I have any advantage or disadvantage over one another ? Perhaps, but we will attract the same clientele that we are.
Balancing work and family life is a long term commitment. It is not about how many things you have on your plate at one given time. It is about how solid the base of your scale is. Can you adapt to changing things up if one week is off from your original plans?
Am I bashing how others do things? Hell no. I am stating that you need to stop looking at how others are doing and focus on what works for you. Having a pretty desk will never work for me. I am chaotic and that is what drives me. Putting on makeup and having my hair looking fabulous will only last for about 30 minutes before it goes into a ponytail and I rub my eyes only to look like a racoon. Does that mean those who can do these things can run a better business than me?
We as photographers know it is taboo to imitate another shooters image because it kills our own creativity. So why are we then attempting to imitate their lifestyles?
I put together some hopefully helpful ideas to spark something inside of you to work on only as it fits you. This is not a "work this schedule 5 days a week and you HAVE to take weekends off". Weekends off may not work for your lifestyle, so why push it just because another business owner swears by it?
I took what could feel like an invasion of work into my home life, and turned it around to fit. I adapt each day to make the work life balance happen smoothly. If you attempt to keep each day exactly the same, it is no longer balance. It is just the same day over and over.
Sometimes it is Easier to Focus on the Smaller Picture
Stressed about all the edits that need done but school is starting in a week which you have not done any shopping for? Take bigger tasks and cut them into smaller more manageable ones. This is for both work and home life. Take the kids out shopping in the morning, so when they come home they will have time to organize their own new books and pens in their "work stations" while you work on those edits. This makes summer time work well when the little ones have something to keep them occupied.
Dedicated Hours That Fit Your Lifestyle
Tired of forgetting the little things with your clients because your brain is occupied by the kids quarreling during the summer? Get up an extra 30 minutes before them and check emails THEN. Not when they are with you. Not only will it allow you to be totally dedicated to that email or phone call, it will also give you time to takes notes on the client instead of checking the email on your phone in the middle of a stop light where you cannot process the information into your calendar. The words "as soon as I get home I will write that down" rarely ever sees the final work.
If you are a night owl, than use the hours after they are sleeping to check emails. Creating a time frame that works for you and your lifestyle is the only way it will work.
They Wont Die if You Say NO!
Use this summer as a learning tool to your kids. You are not a horrible parent if you tell your kids no to something because you have to get work done. It will show them how hard you are working and that sometimes they will have to entertain themselves (a hard concept it seems for kids these days - but I promise it is a beneficial one)
I am a visual person so color coding works best for my family and I. Red marks when I am gone on traveling to teach workshops. I chose red for that--because it seems like a warning signal. "Better get your s*%t together family--mamma is not around!" Green is for all clients. Blue is for anything and everything to do with the kids (appointments, camps etc). A quick look at any day of the week on the calendar helps to visually plan.
Twenty minutes a day is the minimum recommended reading time for kids. But why just kids? If you are like me, you probably have saved a bunch of e-books to read later on. Well this is later on. Show your kids great habits and read along side with them. You will get some quite time, as well as learning time for all those lighting and posing books you have been stashing away.
Drop Tasks Zaps Your Energy
Delegate! Summer time is suppose to be fun time. But when you are running your own business we know there just isn't room for downtime. So find someone you connect with and delegate. Whether it is for retouching, marketing, or even hiring a cleaning person for the summer months so you can hit the beach instead. Believe me, the kids will be exhausted when you come back, and that will give you another hour or two to get onto some projects for your business.
Create a Demand for Your Time
If your kids go to day camp use this time to shoot all the clients you can. You can always edit when they are home but this shooting time is golden. It will also push your limited available time as a draw to potential clients. I post in May the only weeks I can shoot boudoir over the summer and sell out immediately. Your clients will not want to miss out
Change is OK!
If something is not working for you CHANGE IT! If it feels forced, or not flowing, tweak it to fit your lifestyle. If your home life works well in big sections, than perhaps that is they way you should run the business. Selling collections. On the flip side, if you and your family work best in smaller operations, than transfer that over to your ala carte in the sales. However things feel right in the home life, it will transfer easily into the business life.
These are just some basic tips I have found that makes the summer months with kids home work for my boudoir business staying alive. It is not easy to keep up with a thriving business and having an active family. But small changes can keep you sane!