Self Care for Photographers
Posted by Rachit
Updated: January 30, 2024

5 Tips for Setting Realistic Goals: How to Combat Workflow Fatigue

Setting realistic goals could be your answer to staying motivated even when tiredness sets in. We all get tired every now and then. It’s only natural.

In fact, sometimes that tiredness can feel exhilarating even. Say when you’re finishing a run and your body’s out of fuel – yet you give it your all for that last stretch and sprint your way to the finish line – the adrenaline rush alone gives you such a high that all of the tiredness that follows tastes sweet. 

Runner at finish line after setting realistic goals

Similarly, as a photographer, you may have a really hectic shooting day but if everything goes as planned, all of the stresses feel worth it. You get all the shots you wanted, your team does really well to support you, and your client is visibly happy. Even if you don’t have the energy to change before you go to bed that night, you sleep with a smile on your face, because you had a good workday, albeit tiring. 

But what if this tiredness becomes exhausting? And that exhaustion sets into fatigue? Some of us have been there and it can be very damaging.

Setting realistic goals is important to avoid workflow fatigue.

Fatigue and Its Negative Effects

Fatigue at work may be caused by multiple factors like long working hours, monotony of the tasks at hand, inability to take breaks, and many more. 

Where it may come from, something we all need to know is that fatigue affects our mental health, physical health, and can even affect our personal lives and our relationships with our loved ones.

Hence, understanding what fatigue is the first step. 

Fatigue at work can also lead to complete burnout where you end up losing any and all motivation to even do your basic tasks. What used to bring joy to you ends up becoming the thing you can’t stand. 

And this burnout could even make you quit your photography business. But there are ways to avoid burnout

Managing Your Mental Health as a Professional Photographer

Being a photographer and running a photography business can be stressful and hectic at times. And that’s why it’s critical to not only take care of your physical health, but also your mental health.

Take care of your mental health.

We’ve covered this topic in our article “Boosting Your Mental Health” for professional photographers and today we will go in-depth on something we had touched upon then. 

Avoid Workflow Fatigue: Setting Realistic Goals

As creative professionals, don’t we all wish photography was just about clicking beautiful pictures? And that the rest would just take care of itself magically? Unfortunately, that’s not the reality!

Running a photography business comes with a thousand other tasks which, more often than not, is led by an individual photographer. And when you are that individual photographer, running your own photography business, those thousands of tasks can get extremely overwhelming. 

But there is a way to tackle this – by setting realistic goals for yourselves. Let us break it down for you. 

1. Learn to Prioritize

You can’t do everything at the same time. Yes, you may have a long week ahead with culling one wedding, editing another, giving feedback to your intern, ordering new batteries for your camera, updating your portfolio, and so on. 

But if you don’t prioritize these tasks, figure out what's important and what’s not as important, give timelines, dedicate specific days, and focus on one thing at a time – you will continue to stay overwhelmed.

So just take care of one thing, wrap it up, and then move on to the next. Yes, we love calling ourselves multitaskers but that may not be the solution to a relaxed state of mind. Which is what we’re all looking for, right? 

Make a daily to-do list, use project management apps like Asana or Trello, use your calendars judiciously – do whatever it takes to help you plan your work better.

Make to-do lists when setting realistic goals

2. Break Down Tasks

“Oh no, there are more than 10,000 photos from the wedding and I don’t even know where to begin. How am I going to do this!?” If this is your inner monologue, then this is for you – break down your tasks into multiple smaller tasks. 

Break down tasks to make them more achievable.

So let’s say you need to cull a wedding. Just divide the wedding into multiple smaller parts like the procession, the vows, the dance, the dinner, etc. Cull one part at a time and give yourself smaller wins. 

The entire job will not seem that overwhelming and you’ll constantly keep making progress, which will, in turn, keep you motivated.

3. Mix Up Your Tasks

Is your current task at hand getting too monotonous? Have you been staring at your screen for far too long looking at the same photos over and over again? Give yourself a break and do something else for a while before you come back to this longer task.

Spending 15 minutes to watch a video to learn the basics of SEO or reading a guide to designing better albums; these breaks won’t just help you grow as a photographer but also give you some variety within your work day. 

It keeps you fresh and helps avoid analysis paralysis.  

4. Allot Time for Business 

Running a photography business is serious work. As creative people, no matter how much we try to run away from business tasks, there is no avoiding it. It needs as much attention, if not more, as needed by our craft.

So it’s a no-brainer that one must allot dedicated time to running and managing their business. These include social media promotions, marketing your work to prospective clients, keeping up with latest trends, taking business management workshops, and such. 

It could be specific times during the day, specific days during the week, or both. But your business needs your attention, just like your photography. 

5. Create Communication Schedules

Ahh, emails, our nemesis. 

Emails can be daunting if not scheduled properly.

Communication can often come in between your ‘actual’ work. It can eat up time from your day and days from your week. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

Set aside time for your emails, messages, phone calls, meetings beforehand. Like 30 minutes in the morning for emails to catch up and then 30 minutes at the end of the day to wrap up. Twenty-minute strict meeting limits to all feedback sessions just once a week. 

All these ‘rules’ can really help you focus on your work better and streamline your communication.

CRM (customer relationship management) tools in particular are super helpful when it comes to managing client communications. You can automate email responses, send out reminders, update clients, manage payments, and more. 

In Conclusion

Work can get very overwhelming very easily. But it can also be managed with some simple tricks like the ones we’ve shared.

These tips are a starting point for you to create your own system to better manage your photography business. 

Because, after all, fatigue is something that nobody wants yet it can creep into anyone’s life without you even noticing. 

Be easy on yourself, start setting realistic goals, and keep loving what you do.

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