Even though Beach Babe Stock (the online stock photography website you’re on now) is relatively new, I’ve actually been a business owner/entrepreneur for more than 7 years now. My fiance and I have run several different types of businesses, both together and individually. We’re based in Thailand, and we’ve had physical businesses (a small beach bar and paddleboard rental), Nek has a business selling cacti, I have had my service-based photography business (Cherry May Ward Photography) for 7+ years, and I’m working a lot on Beach Babe Stock.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few lessons the hard way when it comes to productivity. So today I want to share with you my top recommendations on how to be more productive in your own business (or job, if you’re working for someone else… honestly, who doesn’t want to get the most out of their time?!) and hopefully help you be more productive too.

I do want to preface this blog post with the fact that just because I’m writing about this doesn’t mean I have it all working perfectly all the time, and I am always open for improvement and willing to learn something new. So if you’ve got a recommendation for me, let me know, leave a comment!

So… if you’re a new entrepreneur just starting out in your business, or you’re a creative (or both), then things in your life may be a little spontaneous.

And that’s ok (I’m spontaneous, too!) in life.

It’s just not great when it comes to creating and running a successful business.

When it comes to business, you want one that’ll keep you happy and fulfilled as opposed to depressed (possibly hating on your customers) and drained of every ounce of energy.

My first two tips are super practical and easy to implement, and then the rest are kind of mindset related and take a little bit more work because… productivity is 70% mind over matter.

And I have a whole heap of apps and things to help you with your productivity at the end of this blog post too!

Here are my tips:

1. Systems will save you.

System; (noun)

  1. a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network.
  2. a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method.

Having a system put in place will 10x your productivity. When I first started my photography business, it was at the same time we started up our beach bar (a physical business, which was open 7 days a week) and we had NO system or routine what-soever. I mean, obviously we had some systems within the businesses (workflows and things) but not a system to manage our time very well.

This lead to my work on my photography business being very sporadic and unpredictable.

I would have client meetings, then go to work at our bar, and then try to edit a client photo session all packed into the same day and I didn’t have a proper system to organise any of it.

If I could rewind back (even 1 year into both of those businesses) and give myself a little shake and say “SET UP A ROUTINE, girl!!!!” I would.

What do I specifically mean by this?

Well I would create a calendar and start batching things to save time.

This leads into my second tip:

2. Batch your time.

You may have heard of time-batching. You made already do this, if not… have a read and think how this can apply to your business or life.

Batching simply means to gather all the tasks that are similar and ‘batch’ them together; i.e. set a time to do them all at once.

For example, this blog post. I’m actually writing this as one of four that I’m writing today (I’m batching!) so that I can get a whole load of my creative writing ideas out onto paper all at once and save time as opposed to writing them on the day that I was to publish them. How this helps me is that I can get 4 blog posts done in one day (set to schedule and forget about them – whoohoo!) and only have one “writing” day a month, because I know that I want to publish 1 blog post per week.

Another example (for my businesses) is photographing and editing. These days I try to photograph as least one bundle at a time, any given time I’m shooting so that I know I’ll have at least one extra set of images ready to go up on Beach Babe Stock for the next month. Likewise for the edits, and so on.

3. Clear workspace & surroundings.

The space you’re in is going to affect your productivity. Is your ‘work’ area clean and tidy or is it messy and chaotic? I know my actual desk is the latter 90% of the time. (not a good thing!)

Try tidying up where you’re working a little.

What I did (since I don’t actually have a desk at home, I share with Nek and since I use a laptop and he uses a desktop, his computer gets priority & most of the space. So my tiny workdesk space got really chaotic real quick. What I’ve done now is I have all the things I use on a daily basis packed into my backpack overnight and in the morning I can choose where to set up and work. I can either choose our porch at the front of our house, or at the back of the house, or I can even go to a cafe and get some yummy coffee and work done at the same time.

Leading on from a clean workspace, you also need to get:

4. Rid of distractions.

Depending on your work/ life situation (whether you’re setting up your business as your side-hustle, you’re working from home while your family is close by, or you’re working from an office, a cafe or a co-working space getting rid of distractions will have a huge (and instant) impact on your productivity.

How do you do this?

Focus.

You may have heard some really successful business women/men talk about “focus work” (or maybe you haven’t).

I have to admit, I didn’t really grasp the importance of this until recently when I started working from home on my online business more than on my previous physical and service-based businesses.

This is particularly important if you’ve got a business that isn’t “easy” to you… i.e. it doesn’t come naturally to you (like photography and hospitality do to me), or you need to do a lot of visionary-type strategising, planning and systemising things in your business.

My favourite tips to help you focus & be rid of distractions for good:

  1. Set a timer and time what you’re working on. This 100% helps, I noticed that my productivity went through the roof when I implemented this small tweak to how I work.
  2. One task at a time. “You can multi-task, but you can’t multi-focus.” (one of my favourite quotes from Essentialism, the book I wrote about last week.)
  3. Use headphones to signal “focus work” to others who may distract you if you’re in a place where people can try to talk to you.
  4. Listen to sounds that help you focus and work.
  5. Diffuse some peppermint oil (my personal favourite).
  6. Take breaks every couple of hours (maximum).
  7. Do the hard work first. If you leave the hardest thing until last, it’s highly likely you’re not going to have the focus or discipline to finish the task. You’ll either be feeling tired from a long day of work, or you’ll lack motivation because you’ve procrastinated on something that is a challenge to you and your lovely mind will want you to give up and do it tomorrow.
  8. Try to work on tasks you love, and outsource the ones you don’t. I know this just isn’t feasible for everyone, but keep this in mind for the future and direction you want to take your business in. You’ll generally have more clarity, motivation and be able to focus on the tasks you love more than the ones you don’t!

5. Research shortcuts & timesavers.

Are you trying to do / create something that is taking up a whole lot of your time? Feel like there must be a quicker, easier way to do it? There most likely will be!

For example, when I hired my first assistant in my photography business, I tried to write out a very formal SOP (standard operating procedure) that took ages to finish and perfect.

A couple of years and a few assistants later, I discovered this awesome video recording tool that I could use to record me talking and explaining what I do while showing my screen view at the same time.

Similarly, if you’re finding yourself spending a long time doing something like making a template for a personalised colour-coded calendar, perfecting an email, or taking new photos for your business(!!) there is likely to be something out there that will help you save time doing that thing.

I’d love to hear, what are some of your productivity boosting, time-saving apps that you use in your business?

Leave a comment and let me know!

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