While I use many different tools throughout the course of a day, there are a few that I have found to be indispensable to my business. Oddly, they don’t have a whole lot to do with photography. Yet, having them in my life allows me to be more productive and stay focused on what matters most to me: photography.
When we think of photography tools, we tend to think of equipment and software, right? Sure, gear and editing software are essential tools for any photography business, however so much more goes into operating a business than that. Having a proper system in place, keeping up to date on new technologies, and maintaining a good work-life balance are a few of the things that come to mind. Here are three of my favorite tools that help me stay productive.
Trello for Organization
I realize Trello has been around for a while, however I’m rather new to the platform. It is an incredible, free tool that I use to organize my work and personal life. Prior to using Trello, I mostly relied on spreadsheets, which made me crazy. While I had tried other paid platforms similar to Trello, none stuck.
I met another business owner who introduced me to Trello, and I immediately knew it was the right fit. At its core, Trello is a highly visual project management system comprised of boards (similar to Pinterest), and each board is comprised of lists. Cards live within each list and they can host multiple attachments, images, comments, checklists, and so much more.
I have found the calendar power-up to be super powerful. Users are able to sync individual boards to their calendar via a link. Any items that you have added due dates to are automatically synced to your calendar.
I have created boards for my photography, writing, marketing, trips, workshops, and even hard drive organization. Within most boards I keep an "Action Items" list. Within that list I create colored labels and order them from highest (red) priority to lowest (yellow) priority. I also created "Pending" and "Done" lists. At the end of the week I can see exactly what I accomplished and reflect on it, which I think is important.
While I still have a few spreadsheets, it was quite liberating to chuck the rest of them into the trash. Just beware, getting everything into Trello and making it right for you will take some trial and error. That can be frustrating. However, once you get it all sorted, you'll be amazed by its power.
Podcasts for Motivation
A good majority of photographers spend a lot of time working alone. Listening to podcasts helps me stay motivated, but it also provides invaluable advice and links to resources that I may not have found on my own.
One podcast that I really like is Onward Creatives. It's not necessarily geared towards photographers, but rather freelance creatives in general. As I am both a photographer and a writer, I've found it to be super useful. But that is just one example. There are so many great podcasts out there.
Instead of hopping onto social media I try to listen to a podcast while I am waiting for a meeting or traveling. It’s also a great addition to tasks that don't require a tremendous amount of attention, like organizing your office or editing images.
Headspace for Balance
While Trello has certainly helped me stay organized and a little less stressed, meditating is something that truly helps me stay balanced. I have a couple of meditation apps, as well as some YouTube videos that I like to turn to when I'm feeling unbalanced. However, there is something about the Headspace app that keeps me coming back. Taking 15 minutes out of my day to meditate is like a midday nap. It recharges my batteries and helps to keep most stress at bay.
In a time when photographers are required to wear so many different hats, staying organized, motivated, and balanced are so important. Hopefully this has helped in some small way. I would love to hear what tools you use to keep on top of these things in your day-to-day business.