I ran two full-time businesses: Tavia Redburn Photography and The Beauty in Birth® while homeschooling my three kids, who were ages eight and under, while my husband worked a full-time job. And I’m not saying this to brag or tell you how awesome I am, more so that it actually can be done, that running a full-time business does not have to mean that you’re working full-time hours, and that homeschooling your kids also doesn’t have to look like school at home with traditional school timeframe.
So if you’re thinking, “Okay, so if a normal job is 8 to 5 and you’re running two full-time businesses and homeschooling your kids, like how on earth are you doing literally anything else?” But the truth is that it doesn’t have to be full-time hours in order to accomplish all of these things.
Maybe you just wanna run a part-time photography business or maybe you want a part-time photography business with a full-time income?
Maybe you don’t wanna homeschool your kids?
Maybe you desire to achieve everything that I’ve already shared of homeschooling your kids and running a full-time business?
Maybe even bringing your spouse home from their 9 to 5?
And so I just wanted to share a brief look at my story and how I was able to do all of that is what we’re gonna be talking about in this episode.
Now if you’re listening to this while multi-tasking, I get it. To help you out we took notes for you so you can download a checklist of all 10 productivity tips for photographers totally free, CLICK HERE!
10 Quick & Easy Productivity Tips for Photographers to Get More Done as a Working Mom
1. Work when your kids sleep
For many parents, the most challenging part of working from home is that usually your kids are there too. And, when the kids are awake, it can be difficult to focus on anything else.
Chances are you’re already squeezing in work when they’re sleeping or having screen time right? I did this for many years too, when my kids were babies and toddlers.
Most people don’t want to hear this, but I used to wake up at 5 so I would have a solid 3 hours to get in my quiet time and focused thinking work time before my kids got up at 8. When they were 2-3 years old I trained them to stay in their rooms if they woke up before 8 using the green light toddler clock.
If you’re someone who does their best work in the evening, this can totally be swapped to work after your kids go to bed.
If your kids are old enough, make sure to set clear boundaries with your children so that they know when you are working and should not be disturbed.
2. Get help with the kids
Sure it’s easy to squeeze in an hour here or there when your kids are home. But what about sessions and consults and longer stretches of working?
It’s time to get some help with the kids so you can focus. And I would say that this was critical to my success of being able to homeschool and run two businesses.
So we had our normal daily structure and then there were two days a week where they were gone from probably about eight o’clock until three o’clock. And I would send their school with them or if somebody came over to help, they would do their school here.
And this might be something that you’ve been putting off because you’re not sure who to ask or you’re not sure how much to pay. It feels overwhelming, but I’m telling you that once you can get that lined up, it’s like being given the gift of time. When you can sit down and do work in a focused manner, you’re able to get so much more done, right?
Getting help with the kids can be a few things:
1. Working on weekends when it’s more likely that your partner is home, so you have childcare. Now, I will tell you I never liked working on the weekend, so this is not something that I ever did because I wanted having downtime with my family on the weekend. But if you’re in a position where you literally cannot find anyone to help, that is an option to maybe work for four or five hours on the weekend.
2. Hire or trade or babysitting with someone. This is a really, really good option, especially if you’re a birth photographer and you are on-call and you want to trade on-call childcare with another birth photographer or doula or somebody else who has something similar, and you’re not able to pay each other, but instead you’re just available for each other to keep each other’s kids. That is a free way to get childcare for your kids, even if they’re not a birth worker, even if it’s just somebody in your neighborhood and you say like, “Hey, can my kids come over on Thursday from 12 to 3? And on Tuesday, your kids come over from 12 to 3,” or something like that.
3. Finally, and this is what I did, get a family member to help out. If it’s available to you is to get a family member or a friend to help out. We’re lucky enough that my mother-in-law and my mom live within just a few miles of us in the same city. My husband and I were both homeschooled, so they’re both homeschooling moms who were able to help with the schooling.
Now don’t listen to that and think, “Well, my mom’s not a homeschooling mom or she doesn’t live near me, so I can’t do this.” I just want to be transparent with you guys and let you know exactly what I did and how I did it.
And it was that we really leaned on our family support network that we have here. But I have no doubt that if we didn’t have that, I would have used some of the other options that I just described to you to get childcare.
3. Complete similar tasks at the same time
Have you ever tried to make a post on Facebook, answer emails, feed the baby and blow dry your hair at the same time? Okay, maybe not to that extreme, but I think most of us know by now that there is no such thing as “being good at multitasking.”
When you switch from task to task there is something called context switching, which basically means it takes your brain a little bit of time to adjust when you switch from one task to another.
Which is no problem if you’re switching tasks every hour or two, but when you’re switching tasks every 3 minutes, a LOT of your working time is being taking up by context switching. This is why I learned a long time ago to focus on 1 task at a time until it’s done. In addition, I like to think of how my brain works and chunk those tasks together too.
Here is what I mean:
- I do my creative things like writing, creating, posting, etc. all together. Things like creating this podcast episode, writing social media posts, creating new modules and bonuses and content for our courses – those require my mind to be fresh and creative so I usually do those tasks together and for me, first thing in the morning.
- When I know I need to record a video or have a zoom meeting or go live – I do those things all on the same day.
- Mindless things like editing or checking emails, or responding to comments can all go together too.
4. Don’t leave e-mail / Facebook open and silence notifications on your phone
This is one we all know but still do – myself included. I have Facebook, Slack, and text notifications on as I’m creating this episode. By no means am I perfect, right?
But I know that when I need to do thinking work, I have to close down everything in order to focus, especially e-mails.
Think about it like this – you’re writing a blog post about why birth photography is worth the money, and you get an email as you’re typing from a client saying they don’t want to book because it’s too expensive. Kinda takes the wind out of your sails right?
E-mail, social, texts, etc. are all a distraction so whenever possible keep those things turned off when you’re working.
5. Give yourself a set amount of time to complete a task
Each week on Sunday I write down things that went well for the week and things that didn’t go well for the week. Lately, just about every week I write something like “giving myself a set amount of time to complete a task makes me more productive.”
Why? Because I know that if I have 20 minutes to write 2 social media captions, I can’t overthink it. I am forcing myself to embody “done is better than perfect.”
Parkinson’s law states the work will fill the time allotted to complete the work.
For example, if you have been needing to tidy your house all week and you’re like, “Oh, I need to do that,” then pick up a few things here and there, it might take a while, right? But what about if a friend calls you or your mother-in-law calls you and it’s like, “Hey, I’m right down the road. And I wanted to bring you something,” or “Can I stop by, girl?” You better believe you are gonna be cleaning up that house in 15 minutes, right? The 15 minutes it takes her to get there, your house is going to be clean and sparkly and shiny. Why?
Because the work will fill the time allotted to complete the work. So would you rather get the task done in 20 minutes or two hours?
6. Don’t procrasti-learn
Being a lifelong learner is an incredible quality. I always hope to learn and it’s something I pray my kids pursue as they grow older – knowledge.
The PROBLEM is that when we’re starting out in business or photography we have a lot of learning to do and WORKING becomes synonymous with LEARNING.
There is a point where you’ve learned enough. You know what to do and you don’t need to learn anymore.
Procrasti-learning is when learning stops you from taking action.
How do you know when you’re procrasti-learning? When you’re going to take action on something in your business but you think you need to go watch a how-to video first or go back and watch that part of the course again and LEARNING is stopping you from taking action. In my courses, you take action WHILE you learn. How do I know about procrasti-learning? Because I used to be a serial pro-crastilearner.
It’s okay to take imperfect action.
7. Learn on the go
Podcasts, audio books and courses can be consumed on-the go. That means while you’re waiting in school pickup lines, or your baby is napping in the car or you’re driving to a baseball tournament 2 hours away – you can learn in the car. I absolutely love learning this way but I WILL say there is value in letting your brain rest. SO be intentionally about what you’re learning on the go.
Is there something specific you want to learn about right now? Maybe SEO or content creation or creating vendor partnerships… then be specific and learn about THOSE things in the car. Be intentional about that learning time.
8. Prioritize tasks
Not everything is important and not everything even needs to be done!
- What has to get done this week for clients AND marketing.
- Brain dump
- Start with the important things you don’t want to do.
Identify the “frog,” the most annoying, challenging or important task for the day, then eat the frog or do that task FIRST. Don’t give yourself the chance to put it off later.
Then, look at the rest of your brain dump list with this in mind: Delegate, Delete, Defer, Do (4 D’s)
With the remaining tasks, which can you…
- Delegate to other people?
- Delete completely (is this task really need to be done?)
- Defer it to next week?
- What do you actually need to do?
Pro-Level Tip: once you have a list of tasks to do that made it through this process, estimate how long it will take you to complete each, compare that with how much time you actually have to work that day to determine if this is something you can actually finish today.
Don’t worry if you need help remembering these and everything we’ve talked about so far, we have a cheatsheet for you that contains everything we talked about here today so you can review it and choose the 2-3 tips that you want to implement for yourself, you can download it at: taviaredburn.com/savetime
I’m not going to get too deep into this because we just did 2 episodes with Sara Monika on the podcast all about how to decide if you’re ready to outsource and which tasks to outsource as a photographer.
The key things to remember though are:
- It’s not as expensive as you might think to hire a VA, especially if you’re hiring one overseas who is willing to be trained. (Hiring someone experienced is always going to cost more.
- You don’t have to give this person a full time job, it can just be a few hours a week
- Pay attention to the tasks you do over and over, this means it’s something you’ve learning to duplicate yourself and it can be taught!
10. Take care of yourself
This is one we hear as moms often right? You can’t pour from an empty cup and it really is a must.
We can run hard for a while, but if we don’t stop to rest, we’re going to crash. Something in our work life or business life will suffer.
A few ways I take care of myself:
- Paying attention to how different foods and drinks make me feel
- Liquid IV instead of caffeine
- I limit my intake of dairy/sugar
- Move for 30 minutes, 5x a week. Going out for walks to boost my energy throughout the day.
- Rest extra when I feel I need it.
Have you heard some of these tips before? Maybe all of them? Are you doing them? I hope you’ll pick 2-3 that stick out to you and work on implementing them this week. Of course, I love that you’re to the end of another episode but it won’t do you any good if you don’t execute on some of these ideas right!