What causes inertia or procrastination? I think that there are many different causes. Sometimes, it is something simple, like a holiday or a vacation. After some time off, and a few lazy days with the family, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. Some of us are perennial procrastinators, always feeling unprepared and undisciplined. Other people just don’t know what to do next. And then there are those of us who are disorganized by nature — without a plan, and because of that, not much gets done.
No matter what causes inertia for you, there is a simple solution, and that is to schedule your photography so that you know each day what you will do and how much time you have to get it done. This is doubly important for hobbyists. Those of us with a career in photography almost certainly already have some semblance of a schedule, even if it is a sketchy one. But for the people who photograph around another job, photography is one of those secondary activities that tend to get lost in the shuffle of daily life.
Let’s discuss the things that should be scheduled and how to build a schedule so that you can avoid inertia.
What Do You Need to Make Time For?
The most effective schedules are detailed ones. Of course, planning down to the minute is impossible, but on any given day that you plan to work on photography, you should know what you’ll be doing in the morning, afternoon or evening. This means that you should break photography down into its component pieces in order to organize your time.
- Think about camera maintenance and how long the process takes you. Make sure to schedule time for camera maintenance as often as needed.
- Time to brainstorm ideas or experiment with images is an absolute must. In a previous post about creative processes, I talked about how some famous people would take walks or do other things so that they could have the time they needed for thought.
- When are you actually going to take images? Some people want to photograph every day, while others save the photographing for one day and use the rest of the week to attend to other tasks.
- There needs to be time reserved for post-processing, and it should be a time that complements your own personal workflow. Some photographers get excited and find themselves wanting to post-process images almost as soon as they’ve taken them, while others would prefer to let the images rest a day or two before post-processing. Figure out your ideal time to accomplish this task and make sure to build it into your schedule.
- When will you back up your image files? For many of us, this is the thing that is placed on the backburner when in reality, it should be one of the most important tasks. None of us wants to lose a memory card or hard drive full of images!
- You’ll also need to think about all of the little finishing touches. When will you print your images, mat them, and have them framed? Where will you display them?
- Business owners will have a whole host of other tasks to schedule: Website design and maintenance, finances, marketing and more. If photography is your business, then each of these things should have their own time slot.
As you can see, there are a lot of different things that require time and attention. Skipping or putting off any one of them is detrimental to your art.
How to Create Your Schedule
When it comes to actually putting your schedule together, it is totally up to you. Use a calendar, daily planner, or a smartphone app, whatever you prefer. Scheduling activities for different days and times is completely up to you as well.
One piece of advice that I would give, however, is to have a flexible attitude about your schedule. Build in some extra time to make up for unplanned delays, and don’t adhere so strictly to your schedule that you miss out on your child’s school play because you had already planned to spend the evening post-processing. That bit of extra make-up time is essential. Things rarely ever go exactly as planned, so if your schedule has some leeway, you won’t end up with an enormous backlog of work to do.
The other important thing is to approach your schedule with the idea that it can be changed any time you need. That isn’t to say that you should just throw out your schedule whenever you’d rather procrastinate. Instead, it means that you should constantly evaluate your schedule from day to day and week to week. Perhaps you’ll find that post-processing last week’s images on Monday evening just isn’t working out because you’d rather get that work done directly after you’ve taken the images. Or, maybe you just feel the need to mix things up and make life interesting. The reasons don’t matter, really. What matters is that you have the ability to design new schedules that suit your workflow as you go along.
The last thing to remember about scheduling is that you should always leave yourself with some time off — the weekend, a couple of evenings, whatever you can manage. For hobbyists, this is, in particular, a challenge because there just isn’t much time left after work and day-to-day chores, so in order to really engage in photography, it almost must be scheduled on days off. In these cases, perhaps a weekend away from photography each month, or a similar arrangement, is just what is needed to get that much-needed break.
You’ll find that the most productive people are the ones who make schedules and stick to them. This is the biggest tool in your arsenal that can be used against procrastination and inertia.
Now go and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation through your lens.