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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Making a Plan for the Slow Season

Many photographers have a seasonal schedule. Especially if they live in parts of the country with a less-than-desirable climate season. For us mid-westerners, our wedding season is usually from May-October. For states like Arizona, their wedding season is the opposite of ours, maybe Nov-April, when it's not 115 degrees outside.

So our shooting schedules are very full and heavy in the spring/summer/fall months here in Minnesota, and our "off season" months are mostly full of business/office tasks such as getting ready for taxes, making a business plan for the next year, rebranding or updating our websites, workflows etc.

Once those major tasks are done, I usually have a month or two when my schedule is pretty light, work-wise. I don't have much I need to do as I wait for wedding season to begin.

I always have huge ambitions for this slow season. I am going to write a book! I am going to make a homemade dinner every single night for Matt and I! I am going to clean my whole house top to bottom! 

And yet, as the last two winters have slipped by, and the slow season gave way to wedding season again, I found myself wondering what the heck happened to my time, and why hadn't I accomplished any of the things I set out to do in my off season?

I think I spent too much time aimlessly staring at my computer, jumping from one social media site to the next, and too much time sitting on the couch watching NCIS and Law & Order reruns.

I want this year to be different.

I don't want to have the feelings of guilt in late April as wedding season begins, knowing that I didn't do a single productive thing over my off season.

So, yesterday, I made a plan. 

I created a list of all the projects, tasks and goals that I have for this off season that I'd like to do before my shooting schedule gets crazy again in May. I made a list of work, personal and craft projects that have been rolling around in my mind, on the "Someday" part of my Teux Deux list, and on my Pinterest boards for the last year.

Once that list was complete, I went through and loosely spaced them out onto my Teux Deux list.

Have you tried out Teux Deux? It is such an integral part of my daily life, I can't imagine how I got anything done before I started using it. I use it on my desktop computer so it's free. There's also an iphone app which costs $3. The photo below is my completed lists from the end of this last week! Go productivity!
One of my perpetual problems with making to do lists is that I always UNDERESTIMATE how long a task is going to take. I think it'll take 1 hour and it takes 4. So this time, as I assigned projects to days on my calendar, I gave one project a whole day. Some projects got THREE full days. 

I loosely planned out every task on my list over the next 6-8 weeks. An viola! I now have a road map for actually accomplishing most of the off season tasks I want to do, all while still having plenty of time for staring at social media sites and sitting on my couch watching NCIS. 

I fully realize that my schedule will probably change and some days won't go as planned. That is ok by me. I just like knowing that I have a tentative plan to actually accomplish these things that I want to do before my schedule gets busy again. Even if I only accomplish half of what I have planned, that's more than I can say for years past.

Maybe you're a great planner and always accomplish the goals/ideas that you have planned. But I think many of you might be like me - we have great intentions for the off season, or the slow paced winter season where we hunker down inside to get away from the cold... But I think a lot of times, those intentions never become anything more before time just slips away from us and it's time for a busy summer again!

I have a challenge for you. 

Make a list of 3 or 5 things you want to do before spring comes around.

They can be anything. 

Maybe you want to clean your closet out and donate clothes you haven't worn in a year. Maybe you have a craft project that you started last winter and it's still not done yet. Or maybe, you want to print photos from 2012 and make a book, or catch up on your scrap booking project. Whatever your things are, write them down.

And then, create a loose plan for WHEN you are going to accomplish these things.

An hour a night for a week.

One Saturday a month until May.

Your list will be accomplished.

Let's make this winter a productive one, so that we can feel GOOD come spring, rather than feeling guilty about letting this valuable slow season pass us by.

And just for the record. After I accomplish a task from my list, I fully intend to reward myself with some quality TV or book time snuggled under a blanket on my couch. That's what winter in Minnesota is for, right?!

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