This post is for me. I’ll go ahead and admit it right now. While I am quite organized and a great multi-tasker, I am also one of the worse procrastinators you’ll ever meet and constantly find myself putting things off for later. The problem is “later” never seems to comes. In all honesty though, it’s not always my fault. Most of the time, yes, but not always. Sometimes I am working on seven things at once and get a new email from a client that requires a response. But I’m in the middle of placing that order and designing magazine layouts and I have a baby on my lap and and the coffee cup is empty. So, I close my email and promise myself that I’ll write that reply just as soon as I get a free moment. The problem is once I get done with what I was doing there are ten more things needing to be done and by that time dinner needs to be started or kids need baths and then I’m tired and ready for bed.
And I never do get that free moment.
We’ve all been there. In fact, I’m beginning to think it’s one of the requirements for being a photographer. You know, those stipulations that they put in teeny tiny print at the bottom of the page that requires a magnifying glass to read? That’s where they put the part about the never ending “to do” list, I’m sure of it. Well… maybe not.
Whatever the case may be, the fact is there are literally dozens of tasks at any given moment that would literally only take five minutes to do… if we had five minutes to spare. That being said, I’m about to suggest something that may sound a little crazy, but hang in there, okay?
Make the time.
Could it really be that simple? Could that really be all there is to getting things done? In a word… yes.
When it comes down to it, we fritter away countless minutes (or even hours!) each day, either from spending excess time on social media, getting sucked into a website, blog, or e-book, taking an hour to “creatively edit” a single image, or working on a project that shouldn’t really be the priority of the moment. While we are doing that, client orders pile up, emails and phone calls remain unanswered, and our own online business presence hears nothing but crickets. There is a great website and service called Rescue Time that tracks how you spent time on the computer and generates reports telling you how much time you spent in Photoshop, browsing the internet, typing in Word, etc. It has one feature that has turned out to be extremely helpful where it actually cuts off outside influences (such as your internet) for set amount of time so you can focus on the task at hand without being distracted.
Of course, this can be counter-intuitive if the what needs to be done requires the internet, for this reason I’ll actually open a separate web browser entirely (Firefox & Safari are my browsers of choice) and ONLY answer emails from that browser. This way I am not tempted to jump back and forth between open tabs, thus turning my five minute task into a 45-minute ordeal. I’ve even taken things a step further and eliminated all of my shortcuts from the toolbar except for my email program. Sure, I might still be tempted with distractions, but they are a whole lot less accessible now.
If we want to get something done then we need to make time to get it done. <—- that’s tweetable!
Before we continue on to the next big project, take that top do list and start crossing things off! It really is amazing what can be accomplished in just five minutes. What seems to work best for me is to set a timer and actively work for 55 minutes straight and then when the timer goes off I switch gears and start checking things off my “Five Minute To Do List.” Ten things that should be done that day and no more than four things that must be done that day. Altogether, that equals just over an hour of time, but represents a load of accomplishments and a lot of happy clients!
You can download your own printable to do list freebie by clicking on the image below. Print it out, write out your tasks, put it on your desk, and enjoy the great feeling you when you cross things out!