How to keep on top of it all

This is a massively relevant post to me right now. Learning the lessons so you know how to keep on top of it all when you have a bad day is so important. Yesterday I had a bad day. I was feeling overwhelmed with everything I had to do and it was all going wrong. You know the kind of day, we all have them.

Not only am I in the process of planning a new workshop (the awesome The art of getting published: creating styled shoots which I am SO excited about), but wedding season has well and truly hit, I have editing to do, emails to reply to, blogs to write, features for other blogs to write, sample albums to design for venues I’m recommended by, my next Love Your Camera workshop to arrange, a life to plan and small child to run to school and back and clubs and back, a husband to try to spend time with and oh…a million other things that need doing. Plus, the thing that sent me over the edge yesterday, I thought I had lost my regular childminder. The woman without whom we would be hopeless. The woman who enables me to do weddings, shoots and generally work on days when my husband is working (ie monday to friday)! I think you get the point. It was a bad day.

How strange then, that I woke this morning feeling amazing and ready to take on the world again. I went to bed last night, let all the events of the day go and told myself ‘tomorrow’s a new day, it will all work out’. This is all well and good, and that did help (I’m a big believer in thinking positively and being proactive). But the big reason that today is a better day was for a few things I did when I was having my ‘bad day’ that helped set me up right. The things I have learned to do, even when I have occasional dips, that will help me to keep on top of it all.

• Chat to someone, then let go. Don’t keep it bottled in, festering about something that is bothering you is never good. Talking to someone who you trust, who understands and who will give sensible advice (or just listen) is a great way to help when you are having a bad day. Sometimes you just need to have a rant, get it off your chest and then you can move on. Please, do this in private and only to someone you trust. Don’t go crazy sharing your bad day all over social media. It can very easily backfire. But do remember to move on. Your attitude and how you approach a day makes a huge difference to how you feel. Positivity breeds positivity and likewise with negativity.

• Make a plan. I’m a supremely organised kind of person and a bit of a control freak so I like to have a plan. When it all feels too much, work out what you need to do and break it down. Make a plan for your week or your month so you know what needs doing and when you are going to do it. Then stick to that plan! Here’s how to prioritise:

  1. Does it need to be done immediately? If it’s not massively urgent or isn’t something that will assist in other tasks you need to do then its not a priority and doesn’t need doing straight away.
  2. Do you actually need to do this? Sometimes we take on things to help others, or agree to do something out of the goodness of our hearts only to regret the decision later when it takes us away from the things we really need to do. In this case it’s fine to say no to something. It might be something you do out of habit. In which case look at why you are doing this. If it’s not helping with the other work you are doing or making you feel good about yourself then it’s time to let go.
  3. Break it down to smaller tasks. Smaller, quicker things to do will always seem less daunting to do than the large task that makes climbing Everest seem like a doddle! Can you do one small task every day or every week that will work towards the big task?
  4. Just get it done. Sometimes we put off tasks because they maybe aren’t as fun as something else to do, or we feel a bit daunted by it. If its something small, that will take you 10-15 minutes to do, just get it done. It will be a weight off your mind to get this sorted. Especially if its something you have been putting off.
  5. Focus on one thing. When you have a million things to do it can sometimes be tempting to try to do lots of things at the same time, just so you can feel like you are getting more done. This rarely works and you end up half doing lots of things and probably getting yourself in a bit of a tizzy. Set aside time to focus on one thing at a time. For example, I have days where I am just doing editing, days when I am just doing blogging and I set aside time to answer emails and do my social media posts.
  6. Have a goal & then congratulate yourself. For most of us having a goal to reach can be a really positive thing to aim for. Whatever you want to achieve, be it small or big, set yourself a goal and give yourself something to look forward to when you have done it.

• Learn to delegate. This is been my lifesaver. For many years I tried to do it all on my own and it is hard work. In fact, I would say it’s impossible in the long term if you want to run a successful business. There are many things you can pass on to someone else to help with. There are things that don’t require your personal attention, tasks that are time sucks or the things you least enjoy doing. From a business point of view that could be admin work, accounts, photo editing or album designing. But it’s just as easy to outsource some of the more domestic tasks such as cleaning your house or getting someone in to keep your garden looking tip top. Delegating tasks that you don’t need to do can give you more time to concentrate on the tasks you want to do.

• Give yourself some time. We all know exactly how this works. You are so busy doing all your work tasks that your social life or anything that is fun and none work related goes out of the window. When you are feeling overwhelmed with it all it can be a great idea to step back and give yourself some space. Plan an outing with friends, a date with your other half, a trip to the cinema or even just an evening to watch your favourite TV show. Making time for yourself outside of work will give you the escape you need to see things more clearly and help you feel less overwhelmed.

This is pretty much what I did yesterday. After a stressful start to the day I slowly worked through everything. I listed priorities, I delegated tasks that could be passed to someone else and I gave myself the evening off. I sat on the sofa with my husband and watched Better Call Saul. And yes, it definitely helped me get past a pretty horrible day. Today I started the day with a plan and I was back my usual positive, ‘lets get out there and make things happen’ attitude. I knew what I wanted to get done overall and I have my big tasks broken down into smaller ones that I will be doing over the next few weeks. Oh, and thankfully our childcare nightmare has been sorted. Phew!

Hope this helps and gives some tips on how to keep on top of it all. Remember, even the worst days are only fleeting and will pass. Be kind to yourself and make your own life easier by taking it a step at a time.

Thanks for popping by

Fiona x

 

 

how to keep your head in business

general blog images-0002It’s tough to run your own business. I know, I really do! Knowing how to keep your head in business when you are faced with a daily barrage of things you should be doing can be difficult. Your day to day life can be crazy; to do lists, signing up to the newest ‘must have’ social media account, doing the latest ‘must do’ course, not missing out on advertising here, not missing out on marketing there, your accounts, your insurance, your website, your blog and all the time trying SO HARD to develop your skills and improve at the ACTUAL thing you are doing as a business! No wonder half the time we run around like a headless chicken, worrying about too much and not achieving anything.

Time to stop, breathe and take a moment. First thing you need to do is congratulate yourself on getting to this point. For many people that idea to do something never goes any further than being a dream. You have done something and that’s amazing to start with. The fact that you are the kind of person to  act and follow those dreams and goals means that underneath it all you can cope.

When self doubt pops its head up, remember, we all get the uncertainty. It’s bubbling away under most of us a lot of the time. There are times when I question everything. When I wonder if I have made the right choices, if I can do the things I have committed myself to doing. I have self doubt the same as everyone else. But, no matter how many times this happens I know that I will make it work. I can’t not, because doing what I do is the only thing I want to do. For those of us who have chosen to furrow our own path and have our own business the alternative just doesn’t seem like an option anymore. Would you really choose to give up your own dream and your own goals to go back to a 9-5 job working for someone else?

The reason why we chose to take this route is because we weren’t satisfied with the 9-5. We didn’t want to settle for OK. We wanted to do something we loved, something that drove us, something we took pleasure in and enjoyed so much we couldn’t imagine NOT doing it. Yes, there will be tricky times. Yes, there will be times when you really do question whether your decision was right. But, you know what? The universe has a funny old way of making it work out. If you are open to change and embrace opportunity (no matter how scary it seems) something positive will always be found.

So how do you keep your head in business? How do you manage when it all seems too much? What do you do when you can’t see the end of your to do list or even know where to begin?

1. Remember what’s important.

Why did you start your business? What was it that drove you in the first place? Was it the need to create? To have financial freedom? To do something for yourself? Whatever that starting place was you need to remember it. This is the reason you started your own business. When it all seems a bit too much remember the why and remember what is important to you.

2. Listen to yourself

This is a big one! In a world full of information it is so easy to get overload. Being able to learn is the most wonderful thing in the world. I love to learn new things, to embrace knowledge. But when there is information everywhere how do we choose? So many people giving so much advice. Who do you listen to? Who do you follow? Where do you find the information you need? Agh! I find it too much sometimes and in the past often felt like I was drowning. It’s very easy to take on so much information that you then can’t do anything. You are paralysed by overload. Maybe you have gotten into the bad habit of signing up for so many courses that you do a lot of planning but never actually get round to doing any of the things you have learnt. This is where you need to listen to yourself. Go with your gut instinct and find the voices that most resonate with you. The ones that reflect the passions you have, the outlook you have. Find one or two places of knowledge and learning, commit to those and make sure you follow through and implement what you are learning.

3. Don’t be scared

If you want a business that will be a success (in whatever shape or form that is for you), then you will need to do things that will put you outside of your comfort zone. That’s a good thing! It might be you are worried about making a mistake or concerned that you aren’t good enough. It sounds crazy, but the idea of making your business a success might make you scared. With a successful business comes responsibility, to yourself, to your clients, to others you work with. These can all be daunting things. When the only other option is to not do it at all, then it isn’t really an option. There will always be times when you have to do things that worry you or make you anxious. You have to be brave, face those things and know that in order to make something worthwhile and positive you have to take a risk now and again. The rewards are definitely worth it.

4. Roll with the punches

You won’t always make the right decisions. You might sometimes mess up. You will probably do things that in hindsight you wish you hadn’t! This is all part of the ride. It’s the way you learn and the way you grow. I made daft decisions in the early days of my business. I spent money I shouldn’t have spent on things that did nothing for my business. I worked with clients who were lovely, but really not the right fit for me. But I learned! When something isn’t working, do something different. If something goes wrong, fix it as best you can and make sure it never happens again. We are all human, we are fallible and we learn as we go. Roll with the punches, take the great things and celebrate them. Take the bad things, learn from them and let them go.

5. Be invested

This doesn’t just mean financially. Be invested in your business. Be prepared to do what you need to do to make it work. You don’t necessarily have to give up your life to your business (although, this does often happen in the early days if you aren’t careful), but you need to commit yourself to it. If you aren’t invested it’s too easy to walk away. In that case, what’s the point? If you spend your time copying others and doing it half heartedly then just stop now. Your dream isn’t to be a second rate version of someone else, your dream is to have something that is yours…heart, soul and passion. If you really are serious about making your business work then you need to feel like you have devoted time, effort and your very being into it. When you commit that much (and then commit financially too) it would be very hard to quit. When it gets tough you need to have that investment in yourself more than ever. When you have a self doubt wobble and wonder if it’s all worth it. When you are trying to keep your head and it seems tricky, this commitment you have made will help drive you through.

 

So, there you go. A few ways to help you keep your head in business. Another really great way to help you when you feel overwhelmed and a lost is to set yourself some goals. This is not a case of adding more to an already busy workload. It gives you something to aim for, reminds you of where you want to be and helps with the tasks you need to do to get there.

Set your big goal, where you want to be ultimately. Then set a number of smaller goals that you can do over the next year to aim towards the big goal. Break those smaller goals down into monthly tasks. Each month choose one of those tasks to do. Slowly you will see yourself achieving the things you really want to that will get you towards your big goal. It’s always easier to do the small tasks one at a time than to try to think of the big goal!

Do share your thoughts. If you have any other questions leave a comment or get in touch on fiona@fionakellyphotography.com

Thanks for popping by

Fiona x

 

 

 

stones on a beach

How to keep strong and healthy while running a busy business

You have to look after yourself; your body, your mind and your emotional well being. No one else will do it for you and it’s so very easy to let things slip. Maybe it’s down to the fact I am now 40, but I am increasingly aware of the need to keep my body fit and healthy. I am going to be writing a few posts covering all aspects of this area in the coming months. Today I’m concentrating on a couple of things I do regularly to keep my body fit for the 40+ weddings I photograph a year.

Photography, particularly wedding photography, is physically knackering! You are carrying heavy bags around, you stand for many hours of the day. There is kneeling, squatting, climbing, bending and not a lot of time to rest. That’s not even taking into account the hours you then have to clock up in front of the computer, hunched over your laptop or keyboard. For many years I was quite a gym bunny so happily I have a good base of muscle strength, however even that isn’t up to that much any more when I’m so busy and not managing to exercise as much as I would like.

At the moment there are two things I do that keep things ticking along and making sure my body doesn’t collapse in a heap on the floor. Firstly, I do Pilates. It’s the most amazing thing for building a strong core, which means your stomach and back work properly and support the rest of your body. The knock on effect I have noticed in my business is that I no longer get lower back pain. That in itself is a wonder and worth the time and money.

The second thing I do is have a massage every month. My amazing masseuse is all kinds of wonderful. I have just come home from a session with her and my shoulders are tension free, my neck is longer, my posture is better and I feel less like Quasimodo and more like a gliding swan! Becky, my massage therapist, is going to write a blog post for me soon that I can share with you. Loads of great tips for keeping yourself healthy, ideas for stretches and exercises to help your body work better.

I can say for sure that without my monthly massage and the Pilates I would have hideous back ache, possibly pulled muscles. My body alignment would be shocking and I would no doubt have a neck like a rugby player.

I would absolutely recommend that you start looking after yourself now. Build time into your diary to start exercising, it doesn’t have to be loads and it doesn’t have to be boring. Walking, cycling, running if you want to be outside. If you like the idea of doing something with other people check out your local council run gym for very reasonably priced access to a workout space and exercise classes. Do something at home, get a DVD or find an online workout you can do. I love HIIT workouts (High Intensity Training), as the premise behind this is to work at 100% for very short bursts, which means quick and very effective workouts. I can be in and out of the gym in 35-40 minutes having done a full body cardio and toning workout when using the HIIT method. Ill do a post sharing more about this idea soon. Work on building a strong body that will let you live the kind of life you want to live.

Don’t wait until the New Year to kick start things. Make today the day you look after yourself a bit better.

Thanks for popping by

Fiona x