DOUBLE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY IN 2018 (SAME METHOD I USE)
YOU WILL ACCOMPLISH EVERY GOAL IN 2018 (WITH THIS SHEET)
Even though this is largely a photography website, this TO DO list is for everyone, especially every single type of creative. Download it, because it will change your 2018!
2018 is almost here and we're probably thinking of all the great things we want to accomplish. This is true of the newbie or advanced photographer, or simply someone who hopes to pick up a camera in the near future.
BTW if you're new, also check out the START HERE page. Personally I am making my top 10 (plus 1 bonus) goal sheet that I carry in my wallet. Some years I score almost all of them, some years I stare at it and wonder "what did I accomplish all year?!?" - and to help you reach your annual goals, this is the best to do list! It is your 2018 work goals and your 2018 goals template.
2018 will be a year of completing small tasks, which lead to small accomplishments, which lead to big and small goals. Okay how do we do this in 2018 when it wasn't priority for 2017 or even 2016? I have the answer for you and it's a step-by-step daily to do sheet guide that I designed.
Even FastCompany says "making a list...gives you a single place to keep all your priorities front and center" Over the years of working for myself I experimented with digital lists, hand-written, post it notes, bulletin board, white board, chalk board, notebook (spiraled and bound), loose paper and any other method you can attempt. Guess what? I failed over and over, every single time.
That's when I realized my life out of balance. I was either focused all on ME or my work, but rarely was I focused on a well-rounded life. Lets be honest about it, I was more focused on work than my own personal life. You succeed where you focus (so yeah...I'm single). It was around last year that I decided my daily task sheet needed to include everything for a balanced life. Spoiler alert: It's yours and free (at the end of this article).
(Click here to see an awesome motivational video I made)
Why did to-do sheets fail in the past?
Here is why any to-do sheet failed in the past for me, and I'm willing to bet it's the same for you. I would write my to-do list on post it notes but it never had a post-it for "take a walk" or "learn something". I tried writing on the board, but after one day it was erased and I had no record of what I accomplished in day's past.
I had no record of notes, accomplishments, details about my health and personal life, no focus tasks, no outreach, nothing. In fact, my worst idea was the white board or chalk board. Where I got the closest to having a complete to-do list was on a spiraled notebook. But guess what? It was messy, I didn't stay within the lines, and over time the to do list transformed from an organized manner to doodling on the paper. Eventually, I stopped using the notebook because it wasn't organized. Can you relate to this? Have you tried using a notebook and experienced the same hurdles?
How is THIS to-do sheet different?
How is my to-do sheet different? Ah, I'm so happy you asked that question because I'm quite proud of it and I will take a couple of lines to boast the greatness of this sheet. OK, I'm done. It's your daily to do list that is printable.
This sheet factors in everything that previous attempts weren't able to do. It factors in everything from the simplicity of a date, to daily focus, to prioritizing your tasks (something no other list did well), personal time, business reach outs, knowledge and notes. In fact, I print 30 at a time and put them in a 3-ring binder. Each day, I flip the page but I can always go back to reference.
When you start your own business, and if you already have your own business...going back and referencing is like the number one thing you do. This sheet has you covered and it's the same sheet that I use, each and every single day. Only for 2018 it's redesigned to look nicer because lets be real, creatives can't deal with ugly things.
The sheet looks like so much work though...
But is it really? Is being organized and spending 3 extra minutes a day to write things out "so much work" for you? I say that because it's exactly what I thought upon the first design of this. And then I realized, wait a second... I'd rather spend 3-4 minutes in the front end shaping my day vs. 30-45 minutes going back to fix what wasn't done correctly. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. It's not a lot of work but even if takes 5 minutes out of your morning or night, don't you feel worthy of it? I think you're worth it, that's why I did it.
Your lazy! (But so am I)
Humans are lazy. We want the easiest way out and there are moments for that but you're starting the year with big goals. Lazy cannot live in the equation at all! Lazy is cancerous to your dreams. Lazy is infectious as ambition is infectious. I can relate to lazy, we're all lazy. Guess who's too lazy to see the gym everyday? Yeah, me...
Lets not use lazy. Lets not be lazy. This is for your future and you're worth a few minutes of planning each day. There are varying theories on how long it takes the average person to form a habit. It's anywhere from 2 weeks to 66 days, and the answer is probably somewhere in the middle. Do this for yourself, do it until it's a habit.
OK fine! You're ready to do this. What's it all about?
It's about organizing your life. It's about making sure your professional tank is full, your personal tank gets attention, and so does your future. It's about living off of one sheet each day, and realizing that small goals (daily sheets) grow into huge accomplishments (yearly goals).
It's waking up and knowing that your day for the most part is planned, and you have an organized path to completion. It's about knowing you are considering YOU and YOUR PROFESSION. It's about knowing planning for the future, as much as you're able to reference the past. That's what this to-do sheet is and it'll set your 2018 and beyond on fire!
Below I will address each section. Some is common sense, some could use a little direction and remember that doing a sheet like this daily is what the most successful people do. You're in the good lane now!
SECTION BY SECTION
This is obvious but lets still pay attention. Take 3 seconds write the day, because after a couple months of this you'll be happy it was written in. Dating means you can reference faster, it means you can keep yourself accountable. You can look at the end of the month to see what you did. If you're happy with your goals, chances are you created a to-do list each day. If you're unhappy about the progress, go and reference the dates. Did you do one each day? How can you tell? Because you dated them and if you see large gaps of days, you have an answer for yourself. Take a second and date each sheet. There's a section for that already!
Entrepreneur Magazine says, "Your done list is as important as your to-do list" and keeping dates on all your sheets creates the done list.
I'm big on this. This is your mission statement, your cheerleader, your mentor, your coach, drill sergeant, your kind reminder. Each day should have a focus, and there are no limitations to what you can write. Just make certain that what goes in that space is your theme for the day, your soundtrack if you will.
You can write your favorite author or celebrity quote. You can write a mantra or something you thought about yesterday. There are days I write something to the effect of "Today I won't agree to a low rate, and I will educate the client about my value to their project". You can write "You don't need permission from anyone to follow your dreams". You can write "F*ck them! Do this for yourself". You can even write note to yourself "You had an easy week so far, time to stop making excuses and get to work. FOCUS!" - it doesn't matter what you write, as long as that statement is your mission statement for the day. It's important, do it!
It's also fun to see your mind and the ups & downs of having your own business. You can see development over time, see how you've grown spiritually or how your motivation has changed over time. This is your sheet, your goals, and it should reflect exactly where you are in life. Be honest, not enough people are and honesty is refreshing.
I MUST COMPLETE √ REALLY SHOULD COMPLETE √ IF I HAVE TIME
To the left you'll see 3 sections that prioritize your day. Before anything, I want to make very clear that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO FILL EACH SECTION UP. You can have only two things in the "I must complete" section, and have the "Really should complete" entirely full. This is to let you know what MUST be done today.
As the days go, items can move up the rankings. What was once "If I have time" can turn into "Really should complete". Things in the "Really should complete" section can move to "I Must Complete" if you haven't yet checked them off your list.
In the past, I had one list on a notebook. It was everything that needed to be done, in random order of what popped in my head first. This was a disservice because 1) it created chaos 2) it didn't prioritize and there were moments that I accidentally forgot to do something, because the list was so long. That's why I've broken down each section, so it's quite clear what needs to be addressed today and what you should get to if time permits.
My biggest failure was not paying attention to ME. I didn't make time for friends, phone calls to loved ones, for a walk, meditation (still I'm struggling on this one), or just going to the gym. You can go for a while without paying attention to the personal, thinking that if you operate like a machine it'll bring you much success. You're wrong! I was wrong!
In fact not paying attention to my health affected my work, my mood, and my future. Now I give it 3 lines. It's simple...
- Did you meditate today? Did you find 5 minutes (or more) to give yourself some focus and rest?
- Did you workout or go outside for some physical activity? Did you see the sunlight and hear the birds outside? Did you walk the dog or your child?
- Did you eat well? Did you give your body the fuel that it needed? We panic if the car doesn't have the oil change in time, but did you fuel your body the best that you could? It's important.
DO NOT FORGET!
This gives me anxiety. But the DO NOT FORGET section can be professional or personal. It's what we MUST do that day like "Mail your taxes in". It could be "Call friend for their birthday" or "take the trash out". There are no rules here, except that you cannot forget! You don't have to use this section everyday, just only if there's a pressing matter that needs to be addressed.
This MUST be done every single day. This is your seed planting for the future. This is where you solidify relationships, pick up clients, get write ups or other opportunities. It can be via email, text, phone or another method. Do it, do it, do it!
Here's one thing I've learned in business: It's not that personal if you don't get the job. Truth is, the person probably didn't think of you, because you were out of sight and out of mind. You didn't reach out on a human level to say hello, ask about how they're doing. You didn't tweet to them, leave a comment on IG or send a FB message. You opted out of their life, and you shouldn't expect them to reach out when there's an opportunity. Harsh right? Well, sure it's harsh but it's also truth and we all need it.
Here are examples of reach outs that I do. I may have seen that someone's dad was in the hospital via Instagram. I'll take 30 seconds to send them a text which is genuine. I'll say that I noticed from their Instagram that a family member is in the hospital, and I'm just checking up on their recovery. Image someone you didn't expect reaching out during a scary moment. It feels good and we need to look after one another! I assure you that this relationship strengthened a little more. Instead of wondering how someone is, take a minute and inquire. It's kind and we all need more kindness in 2018.
Here's something else that I do... I might watch something on Netflix or Amazon Prime (I did this last week) and find the work beautiful. Guess what I'll do? I will find them on Instagram or twitter, I might go to their website and even write an email. I'll congratulate them on the hard work. Sometimes they'll respond, sometimes they will not. It doesn't matter, you're just reaching out to someone and showing that you genuinely care. At the very least, you've put good into the universe. You could also make a new friend, a new mentor, contact, a client, or just get a nice message back.
Despite what people think, we generally want to work with those we enjoy. Need someone to take great photographs? Sure, there are hundreds of options but which one do you have an attachment to? Which one do you enjoy and was there for you? Which one made you feel better? That's likely the one they'll reach out to in the future.
Now do the math... Imagine reaching out to 3 people each day. Assuming you work 5 days a week, that's 60 reach outs each month. That is 60 former clients, potentially new clients, strangers, peers, friends of friends, etc... that now had some form of contact with you. That's 60 people who may reach out to you in the future in a form of support, job, or encouragement. And guess what? I've been slacking on this lately, I've gotten lazy about it. I feel it now because it was a habit to do this and now I don't feel as full (spiritually full).
Reach out to others. Say hello. Say thank you! Say good job! Ask if they'll need any creative work in the coming future. Ask if you can help in their current projects. Ask if you can refer them anyone, or just ask how they are. When was the last time someone reached out to you and asked how YOU are? Not your work, not your goals...but YOU. That sort of kindness stays with a person. Lets do more of this in 2018.
3 reach outs each work day means, about 650-700ish reach outs each year. That isn't being good at networking and connecting with others. That's called being a monster and killing it! Do this and watch your career sky-rocket. Ignore this and watch it stall. It's your choice and it's easily broken into 3 little lines on that sheet. Check them off and feel incredible.
Reach outs can also be business only. You can reach out to a blog about guest writing for them, or reach out to another photographer to shoot second camera for them. Just communicate.
Often times, we're so wrapped in life that we forget about the personal relationships. We forget to take care of others, take care of ourselves and live our lives. We must remember that we work to live, so lets LIVE! Do not forget your personal tasks. Write them down here...
- Gift wrap the kids' Christmas gifts
- Ask the neighbor if you can borrow _________.
- Invite Josie to lunch this weekend.
- Zara has a sale, go check it out tonight!
It does not matter what you write. Keep it to your personal life and accomplish at least one or two things a day. Even if it's going for a walk so you can call a friend to catch up for 10 minutes. Can you afford 10 minutes a day for something that will help you and your loved ones? Can you not check social that hour so you can focus on more meaningful things?
WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
If you think I'm being preachy, wait until this section. But I promise you on everything that if didn't do this, my career wouldn't be where it is today. I'll put it in the most simplistic way possible:
You must learn one new thing every single day. It can be around your craft, how to operate your business, or something that will help your future. If you look at see at the end of the day that you didn't have anything to write in that section, get up. You don't deserve to sleep. You don't deserve a good night's rest until you learn one new thing!
Get up and do something about it, do something for your future! Youtube something and learn. Then write it on this sheet. Now you can sleep knowing you're a champ! Learning one new things doesn't have to be earth-shattering. You can search google for something as complicated as "what's the new tax codes for 2018" or simple as "what does DSLR stand for".
Learn one new things each day. Your future thanks you in advance! Can you imagine ending 2018 with 240 new things you've learned? Some will be better photography techniques, others will be how to be a better business owner. I didn't photograph Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Kanye, Usher and others by just expecting people to hand me a job. I learned every day, but just one thing every single day. You can do this!
This is an open space to jot notes down. It's simple and a free space to take notes. Draw in it, take notes on it, put a little cookie on it and don't use a plate...do what you want in this section. It's open space for notes.
OK Fine, I'm in. What now?
This Worksheet will Change your Business!
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Then print enough for the month and put it in a simple 3 ring binder. Use them. What you did not finish, transfer all that to the next day's sheet. Add as you need, and check off as you need. Refer back to this page if you have more questions or follow on Instagram. I try to respond to every comment. My Instagram is @HowtoPhotograph