How to make more time for your photography
Photography is great fun but there’s no denying it’s also time consuming — especially if you want to get better, learn new techniques and create stunning images like the ones we see in galleries and magazines.
That’s where the problem begins.
In our daily hurly burly there’s precious little enough time to do all the things we need to do without taking time out for ourselves. We spend so much time doing what’s expected of us by others there simply isn’t enough left for anything else.
Grabbing a few hours to indulge ourselves in ungratuitous pleasure makes us feel guilty because there are a million and one other things that need our attention:
- the unfinished report that needs to be ready first thing tomorrow
- your daughter’s ice hockey training
- doing the daily chores
You know the kinds of things, all the ‘stuff’ we all have to do as part of our busy lives.
What if I told you making more time is easy?
It’s just a question of priority. Let me explain…
How you choose to spend every minute of every day is your choice. That’s why I’m a huge believer in not having enough time is an excuse, not a reason.
I don't have time is an excuse, not a reason. It's just a question of priority. #business… Click To Tweet
If you really had to do something, if your life depended on it or you’d die, you’d make it happen.
Question: If you’re diagnosed with cancer tomorrow and your doctor says it’s curable but only if you act quickly, what would you do? Would your answer be any different if you had a major deadline to hit and your employer has cancelled all leave?
That’s an extreme example but I wanted to highlight a point: we prioritise and spend time on what matters to us most. This example is bad because staying alive is important to everyone but what about less dramatic situations?
** Sanity Checkpoint **
If you’re reading this article because you want to make more time for your photography and you’re not willing to change anything to create that time, you’d be better off not reading any further. Making time for anything means giving up time on something else. You cannot have both: there are only 1,440 minutes in a day. You can’t add any more but you can change the way you choose to spend them.
If you’re still with me, let’s look at what people spend their day on…
This is the stuff you do all the while without even thinking about. Doing the dishes is a classic example. It’s a never-ending task because once you’re finished someone in your household will make more. Other things you can include here are…
- the school run
- the daily commute
- going to work**
- watching TV
- catching up with Facebook
- the laundry
(** I’m including ‘going to work’ here because no matter how varied your day may be, if you step back and look at the big picture work is part of most people’s daily routine. The nitty gritty detail of what you do is what you’re doing for someone else, not you)
Exercise to the reader…
Look back over the last week and add up the amount of time you spent on routine activities. When you have your number, leave a comment below with the number of hours.
Doing what’s expected of them…
This class of activities is everything you do because it’s expected of you. It’s also very damaging because it consumes your time with little or no reward other than a vague promise.
The best example is the employee who stays late and works weekends because the company expects them to. Sure, you might get a promotion eventually but at what cost? You’ve chosen to give up your time for someone else’s benefit meaning you have less time for what you want to do. It’s heavily geared in favour of the employer and reinforced by peer pressure and office egos. The true genius behind it is most people are too stupid to be aware of it or even realise it.
Question: how many times have you left the office on time only to hear someone say “Going home early?” or “Only working half a day today then?” or one of the countless other jibes that the office hero culture creates.
…I used to be one of them. I was always the guy who was the first to arrive and the last to leave. I was to ‘go to’ guy for everyone’s problems. I was the only designer who got sent all over the world at the drop of a hat to fix problems the customer service team couldn’t fix. I gave up my evenings, my weekends, holidays and even spent my 30th birthday in the departure lounge at Heathrow because a ‘customer needed help and there was a $1,000,000 order in the balance’. Why did I do it? Three reasons:
- all the while there was the promise of a promotion and a big pay rise, tentatively dangled and just out of reach
- it was really cool being the person everyone went to for help
- in the director’s eyes nobody else could operate at that level
What changed? I realised I wasn’t irreplaceable when the redundancies came in 1998 and my name was on the list. Then again in 2002 with another company and once more in 2011 with a third.
The point I want to make here is very simple: spending a lot of extra time doing things because they’re expected of you is OK to a point provided you’re aware of the sacrifices you’re making. If there is something else you could be doing for yourself but never have the time, I would question the wisdom of your decision.
Exercise to the reader…
Look back over the last week and work out how many hours you spend doing things for other people because they expected you to. If you’re so inclined, leave a comment with the number of hours.
Doing things for yourself…
This is where everything you do for yourself because you want to lives.
Exercise to the reader…
Take 5 minutes to think back over last week and list as many things you did for yourself as you can then leave a comment with the number of items below.
Things you might include on your list are
- any hobbies and interests you have you actually spent time on
Doing things out of curiosity/distraction…
We often spend time on things that catch our eye, pique our curiosity or out of sheer nosiness. This category is all the things you do either on the spur of the moment or to fill up the time. Catching up with your favourite TV show, the news and what’s happening with social media are classic examples.
Exercise to the reader…
You know the drill — how much time did you spend last week on all this stuff? Add it up and leave a comment if you dare!
Making more time for your photography…
If you’re serious about making time for your photography rather than just using it as an excuse not to take the camera out do the four exercises above.
People say they don’t have time for things for one of two reasons:
- it’s an easy excuse not to do something
- it’s not high enough on their priority list
Hopefully you’ve made it this far because of reason 2 rather than reason 1 (if not, you’ve just wasted several minutes reading about a problem you’re not prepared to solve).
The solution to reason 2 is very simple…
If you want more time for your photography, you have to make it more important than something else you’re doing.
Look back at your answers to the four exercises. Which of these categories would be easiest to spend less time on to make more time for taking photos?
You can take time from any of them. Some will be much easier than others but somewhere in the numbers you’ve written down will be the answer. You don’t need to stop doing anything completely, just reduce the time so you can spend it on something else.
Time is the most frequent issue when I ask people what their biggest struggle is with photography. It’s a very emotive subject because everyone is busy and we all have different circumstances and pressures in life. Nevertheless, I still stand behind the simple premise that…
I don’t have time is an excuse, not a reason!