Keeping a Great Calendar

Savannah Georgia Anniversary by Jordan Brittley

Yesterday I shared part two on Running a Business in College and in one of my points, I explained the necessity of keeping a calendar. Since my college days, the way that I stay organized with my calendar has changed and I have noticed a huge change in efficiency and drive for the task at hand. I currently use the Simplified Planner from Emily Ley in addition to iCal on my phone and computer to keep track of to-do lists, events, dinner plans and more.

Using Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrant model, I characterize each of my tasks as important-urgent, important-not urgent, not important-urgent and not important-not urgent. The important-urgent and not important-not urgent tasks are pretty easy to identify. If I schedule a meeting, book a wedding or commit to something, it goes in my Simplified Planner and in the iCal app (with an alert to remind me) because it is important. If I think of something I need or want to do, it goes in the iCal app so I can characterize it later. The first thing to get written down in my Simplified Planner is always a task that could be defined as important-urgent.

(1) WRITE YOUR VERY LONG LIST – If you are a business owner, student, employee or person alive today, you probably have a lot of things going on in your mind. If you are an Entrepreneur, then you are constantly thinking of even more things to do. Whatever the case, start by writing everything down. I keep my long list in iCal so I can just transfer from day to day. If you think of a blog post idea, something to add to the grocery list or a new dessert your want to make, write it down.

I have noticed a huge change in my productivity when I am not stressed and I think that writing things down is becoming a key factor in minimizing daily stress. This list should encompass your entire to-do list as well as anything else you are brainstorming.

(2) ORDER THAT LIST BY IMPORTANCE – Once you have your very long list of everything going on in your mind, you can order the list by importance. If it’s important-urgent, give it an A. Important-not urgent gets a B. Not Important-urgent gets a C and I cross off anything that is Not Important-Not Urgent if it somehow found its way onto the list.

(3) IDENTIFY AND DELEGATE THE UNIMPORTANT AND URGENT – One of my biggest challenges is identifying the unimportant-urgent task. You may feel like everything is pressing and important, but a good test of importance is by asking yourself if someone else could do the task in your place. It’s not about whether you would feel comfortable giving up control of that task, but if it possible for someone else to do the task. You can probably categorize more things as unimportant-urgent than you initially thought.

(4) DO NOT DO THE UNIMPORTANT AND NOT URGENT – This is a simple one. Don’t do things that aren’t important and aren’t urgent.

(5) SCHEDULE THE IMPORTANT (URGENT AND NOT URGENT) TASKS FIRST – Once you have your list sorted by importance, start scheduling your tasks in your calendar. I do this in my Simplified Planner because it’s easy for me to glance at throughout the day and it’s one less thing that I have to do on my phone. Say goodbye to unimportant tasks (because you are going to let someone else do them) and hello to important things that you didn’t think you had time to do.

Goodbye post office runs. Goodbye burning DVDs. Hello to seeing my sisters play softball during the summer, reading books and serving others.

(6) SCHEDULE 2 PERSONAL BREAKS – There is a reason that employers give a work-break every 4 hours. Do this for yourself every 3-4 hours and you will be able to work much more diligently, resulting in a more productive work day.

(7) DO NOT OVER SCHEDULE YOURSELF – Be ambitious, but not overly ambitious. Putting too many tasks on your list for the day isn’t going to make sure that they get done. I used to work 60+ hours a week (easily) and while I still love my job, time with my husband is way more important than getting a list of things done. I understand when you have deadlines and you have to get things done or when you want to take an extra day off so you put in extra hours. Just make sure that you are doing what you are doing on purpose for a purpose. Work hard and do what matters.

(8) USE SOCIAL MEDIA IN CHUNKS (AND FOR BUSINESS) – I try to interact with people on social media, but I try to do it in chunks: once in the morning, once in the afternoon (unless it’s a busy day) and once at the end of the work day. I try to set a time limit of 10 minutes for myself so that I don’t get caught wasting my time. I don’t think that social media is bad, but I think that I can easily give so much more time to it than I really want to give. These boundaries that I have set up for myself make me excited to interact with people on social media and I know that I am still getting work done!

(9) IF YOU ROUTINELY WORK WITH CLIENTS, BLOT OUT AN EXTRA HOUR OF TIME FOR THEM – If you have been working with clients for any length of time, you know that they have questions and need guidance. As a wedding photographer, my clients typically need more attention leading up to the engagement session and wedding day than any other time. Leave yourself some time in your calendar for the unexpected to happen. Because then you can devote your attention to your client and serve them better!

(10) STICK TO YOUR CALENDAR – This is a simple one. If you are good at characterizing tasks, scheduling tasks and breaks then all you have to do is stick to your calendar!!

(11) BONUS: SCHEDULE A LUNCH BREAK – I don’t know if other people are like this, but I can get so wrapped up in work that I forget to eat (or drink water!!). Schedule time for yourself to eat something, fill up your glass of water and breathe.

Flowers by Jordan Brittley

Running a Business in College (Part Two)

Savannah Georgia Anniversary by Jordan Brittley

I walked down the long, paved path thinking about what I could write about on the blog and the list of photo orders that needed to happen that day. I remembered that I needed to prep for my client meeting that evening and post a senior gallery online. I walked into the dorm room, threw my bag of books on the bed and sat down at my desk hoping that I could get it all done in an hour.

Running a business is a huge commitment & last week I shared a few tips on Running a Business in College. Today I am sharing the second part in this series!

SELECT THE “RIGHT” MAJOR – This does not mean that you need to major in photography. There is no formula for selecting the right major for you, but it’s really important to pick something that is so interesting, you want to spend the rest of your life doing just that. Pick a major (or two) that will be interesting to you in fifty years so that you never want to stop learning or growing! If you are a photographer, I would suggest majoring in something that you could fall back on should you lose your business or decide that you don’t want to run a business anymore. Leave doors open and give yourself options!

I majored in Math because I have always loved math and it comes naturally for me to work with numbers and think in theorems. I have a minor in Computer Science because coding is (still) one of my favorite things to do. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy computer science or how much I would use it in my business! If I ever decide that I want to change things up (this makes me laugh since I love my job so much), I can always use my degree in a formal setting! Then there is my minor in Counseling. I can still see myself getting a masters degree so that I can counsel people when I am fifty years old.

KEEP A CALENDAR – I remember sitting in Probability and Statistics when it occurred to me that I was going to have to write things down. Up to that point, I was trying to keep my to-do list in my head and it was. not. working. I had a calendar that kept track of all assignments, tests & hours for my part-time job but I was still trying to manage my business in my head. And I was fine. But I didn’t want to run a mediocre business, I wanted to run a thriving business and I didn’t want to be at maximum stress for the rest of my life so I knew that something had to change.

Write down everything. Do you need to go to the post office, bank or your sister’s softball game? Write it down. Did your client request something special? Write it down. Is your test on the same day as your product shoot? Write it down. This will help you see how everything is lining up on a day-to-day basis and help you to plan ahead. I would even write “Finish Numerical Analysis Paper” or “Cull Abby and Blake Wedding” in my calendar a week before the deadlines so that I wouldn’t forget to get work done. Once I had everything written down, I could easily look at my day, week or month so I would know if I actually had free time.

I have learned that I can be a better photographer, business woman and wife if I will just write things down so that they aren’t floating around in my mind anymore. Keeping a calendar and staying organized means that I get to be more engaged in what I am doing and do it with excellence.

CREATE A SYSTEM FOR EVERYTHING  - I talked a little bit about systems in THIS blog post, but I am planning to devote an entire post just to this topic. I think it’s so important to create a system for every single thing that you need/have to do in your business (and life). Stay organized with contracts, invoices, photo requests, blog posts, emailing, editing and so on! You might think that you aren’t very organized, but don’t let that hold you back in your business! If you aren’t good at staying organized, set goals to become the very best organizer or hire someone to do it for you.

Once you have a system, write it down and stick to it!

EDUCATE YOURSELF ON BUSINESS – No matter what major you select, it is going to be extremely important to keep growing as a business person! A lot of talented artists don’t make it simply because they don’t know how to run a business or lead a group of people. So whether you have great business instincts or not, keep growing. Listen to podcasts, read books and blogs (like this one!!) and apply what you learn so that you can run your business well!

I hope this is helpful as you run your business! If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them in the comment section below.

Savannah Georgia Anniversary by Jordan Brittley
Savannah Georgia Anniversary by Jordan Brittley

Laura and Kevin

St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley

He handed her a ticket and led her to the carousel where they laughed and kissed the rest away. They seemed to be in their own little world complete with cotton candy, a train ride and a walk through the zoo. He always finds a way to make her laugh and she just might be the sweetest girl you will ever meet. Together they are charming and thoughtful.

I am so honored that Laura and Kevin asked me to photograph this special time in their lives with you and I can’t wait to share their stunning wedding with you too! I am so excited to share that their engagement session is published on Style Me Pretty! Head over there to see more photos!

St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley

July 23, 2014 - 5:20 pm

Gertrude Gusewelle - so fun!!

It Makes All the Difference

Flowers by Jordan Brittley_001

I sat in the short wooden chair made for a child at my assigned desk. The teacher shared about reading or writing or something interesting, but my eyes always darted to the window. With my mind full of day dreams, I struggled to let the instruction of my teacher hold my attention for any length of time. There was a tree just outside the front window on the left of the classroom and it turned from yellow to red in the fall and had the most beautiful blooms in the spring. I was nine years old and captivated with the changing world. I watched the wind-blown trees and I dreamt of the ocean I had only ever seen in photographs.

Through high school and college, I trained my mind to be diligently focused on the task at hand even when it tried to wander. Sometimes I gave in to Sudoku during Abstract Algebra or Calculus III because I always felt like it helped me to retain the material better. I love learning and I love to think through any kind of strategic puzzle, so the two together helped to keep my mind sharp! The analytical, logical & systematic part of my brain is more evident in my education, behind the scenes business tactics, and video work. The creative in me is more evident in my relationships and photographic work.

It’s been interesting for me to balance these two very different perspectives in my photography business. Upon receiving my degree in Math, Computer Science and Counseling, many people were surprised to hear that what I really wanted was to pursue a career in photography. It’s been really exciting for me to see my degree at work in my business over the last year: from writing a simple program to run my business finances to encouraging my clients and challenging myself creatively, I have seen myself grow as a business woman and as an artist. And guess what? I am different.

I see the everything differently. I see the light differently and I see the changing of the seasons differently. I see the world differently. You do too.

I think that it can be easy to try to fit some kind of mold instead of just being you. You were given a vision and this life for a reason and I want to challenge you to recognize that you don’t need to try to be someone else. You weren’t called to be someone else. And you weren’t given this life to wish it away. What if we lived as though we had the freedom to fully be ourselves? Can you imagine what would happen? Can you imagine what would happen if we celebrated each other?! I want this freedom. I want it in every single relationship that I have, but it has to start with me. Freedom is not going to happen to you. Freedom is not something that others must give to you. It is already yours and you get to choose to embrace it or forget about it.

How would your education or career change if you stepped out in freedom and just let yourself be you? How would your relationships change? How would the way that you see yourself change?

I want to challenge you to live out a life of freedom for yourself. Because there is no such thing as living a life of freedom with the purpose of making others happy. That’s no life of freedom. Don’t use your freedom to injure others or to gain the approval of others. Instead, let yourself live the life you were made to live. Because it really does make all the difference.

Central West End St Louis by Jordan Brittley

Drew and Nicole

St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley

He stepped out of the car into the frigid winter air. One foot after the other, he led her down the path discovered the night before. With only the stars and the moon to light their way, he brought her to a beautiful hidden bridge in the Central West End. I’m sure his mind flickered back to his parents who had started their journey on a similar bridge. Proposing to Nicole on a star-lit bridge was his way of remembering his parents and letting his parents be part of his life with Nicole even though they couldn’t see it with their own eyes. Drew knelt down on the bridge and asked Nicole to start a life together and there has never been a love so sweet.

Drew and Nicole are two of the kindest people you might ever meet. I am touched by how they love each other and how family is such an important part of their story. I am so honored to have documented their engagement and I can’t wait for their beautiful wedding in October!

St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley
St Louis Engagement by Jordan Brittley