Trying to run a business when you’re disorganised as all hell.
I’m going to admit something to the world, which may come as a shock to some of you: I am completely, utterly, and disastrously disorganised. Yep. I know. Incredibly surprising to some of you, but-- oh, stop laughing at me!
But in all seriousness, I am incredibly disorganised on a personal level. And procrastination is one of my biggest enemies. While writing this blog post, I have watched three Last Week Tonight segments, swapped batteries that needed charging, and plucked my eyebrows. And I am only on the second paragraph. All the procrastination! Woo!
However, the only one suffering from these points is me. I’ve yet to have clients complain about the lack of work, or the lateness of work, so I can deliver work on strict deadlines! (If you ask my university tutors, though, that’s a different matter…) So if you’re reading this and thinking “Gosh, this girl will never get our work in!” or “How can someone run a business with that mindset?!” Trust me, I will, and funnily enough, I do. But it does mean that I am missing out on potential work and long-lasting clients through my procrastination tactics, or my irrational fear that if my paperwork isn’t in order, how on earth can I get work in?
Things like this would take me a good hour or more in college. Because, procrastination..
So why am I telling you this? Why am I risking my already tiny client-base to tell you something that could effectively damage me and what I could call a reputation? Well, it’s actually past that, and I figured I would be forgiven for being just slightly honest and open about my inner workings. I also figured it would bring relief to others who are also feeling the same, but are unsure of how to deal with it. Because, for a long time, I struggled to also deal with what needed to be done, and working out how to drive past the stage of ‘no motivation’.
I’m going to start with a list of how I start work and how I drive through those pesky quirks of procrastination and serious lack of motivation, and hopefully this can also help someone else!
1) Get inspired
This sounds so cliched, it’s almost made itself into an early 90s kid’s film. But it genuinely is a great way to get started in what you want. Be it through epic music soundtracks (I highly recommend Audiomachine as a backing track for your working life), researching other successful people, setting quotes as your wallpaper on your digital gadget, or browsing through websites/magazines/books to get you started! As a photographer, a quick skim through a photography magazine or another popular photographer’s website makes me want to get to work and make something awesome! Which then leads me to my next point:
Photography Goals: Annie Leibovitz. Be still my beating heart! One day!
2) Don’t wait for motivation
Motivation is probably one of the most fickle things you can experience. When you’re sat at your desk, keyboard or pen in hand, waiting for the words or art to appear, it can become insanely frustrating. However, don’t let it get you down! Allowing yourself to rely on motivation alone to finish work is not something anyone should be doing, purely because motivation is something that is as reliable as the British Summer: you know it’ll be around at some point, but it’s incredibly brief, and usually happens while you’re in the middle of doing something else. So instead of waiting for the motivation to happen, just begin your work! Even if you have to start in the middle and work your way outwards, eventually you will see what will need doing, and the work flow will become incredibly easy the more you work at it. And the next point is one of my favourites.
Summer is all so rare in England, I have to photograph it..
3) Get checklist apps!
One of my favourite checklist apps to work with is actually Wunderlist, as I can cross-platform it on my iOS devices and my Windows PC. It’s wonderfully simple, and can even be made to give you reminders and alarms for different tasks and deadlines. Now, you can use whichever method you feel comfortable with (be it pen and paper or digital), but a good way of keeping on track is looking at what you want or need doing, and breaking it down into manageable tasks. Give yourself mini deadlines to finish certain parts of a particularly big project, and stick to them as best as you can. But don’t make them so unmanageable that you’re then overworking yourself, because then you are going to burn yourself out over it. A fantastic segway into my next point!
Wunderlist you amazing thing you!
4) Take regular breaks (and don’t reprimand yourself for them!)
Whether this be five minutes every hour, or a thirty minute break every four hours of break. If you’re on a roll with your work, fantastic! If you can go without a break until your train of thought stops at the next station, then do it! But don’t neglect basic things like food and bathroom breaks! Trust me, I’ve been there, and it is easy to forgo a meal or two when you’re steamrolling through a project, but don’t let it become a habit! You need food for brain power, and trying to hold in a wee while you’re finishing up a sketch can make for uncomfortable sitting positions, and can easily throw you off your groove! And there’s no little old man to throw out of a window in satisfaction…
Hot chocolate. Good for the mind, soul, and... Not so sure about body, but eh!
5) Talk to others about your ideas and/or concerns
Even if the person you’re talking to doesn’t have much knowledge in your chosen field, having an outside perspective into your ideas or your problems can help you see anything that you might have overlooked during the planning stages. I’ve been there many times where I think an idea would be amazing, and I begin planning the shoot, only to then realise that, to make it into what I would have wanted it to be, there was something big I was going to be missing (usually, finances or transport in my case..). And if you’re stuck in a big pile of paperwork, having someone else who is within your sector take a look at it can gain some insight into anything that needs to change, or even spell and grammar check your documents for you. Just because no red squiggles appear under a word doesn’t mean it’s still meant to be there!
These guys are some of my faves to talk to about my work.
Some of these I will still go back on my word with, not because I’m a hypocrite in what I do, but sometimes, the brain has yet to switch on when I do. When I feel I have a lot to do, my brain essentially turns to mush and I just get lost. But a quick sit down with a cup of tea, and Wunderlist loaded on my iPad, I can make what started out as an unproductive day into something that I will look back on and go, “Woah. I did a tonne of work!”. And lately, I’ve been treating my six-day working week with one full 24hrs off in which to do absolutely nothing productive. I go out for a lunch date with the other half, and then return home to play copious amounts of video games, and I have no regrets!
If anyone else has suggestions into what helps them develop their work, and get into a working state, let me know in the comments below! And with all that noise out of the way, I’m off to eat before I have to get ready for work! Toodles!