20 easy ways to find time to learn photography (or anything else!)

I often hear the complaint of “I don’t have time to learn how to take better pictures of my product or service”

Of course we live in a busy world where there are lots to things to grab our attention and pull us this way and that.
I’m no different.
It’s easy to be distracted by the emails, texts, people, facebook, twitter, I can go on and on.
It much easier to do something that is going to give instant gratification than work on something that doesn’t give you that instant hit of achievement
So over the years I’ve learned several techniques which allow me the time to do what I need and should do.
I’ll share them with you today:

  1. Develop a ritual:

I have a plan mapped out every day of the week that begins when I awake and finishes when I go to sleep.

For instance, I stretch for 10 minutes at 5.50AM then exercise at 6.00AM. The exercise varies according to the day for example Mondays and Wednesdays are days I go for a run.

From 2.30 – 3.15PM I make at least 10 phone calls that are likely to lead to promotion or sales of my business

  1. Establishing the best use of your time.

Ask yourself on a regular basis, even hourly:
“is what I’m doing now the best use of my time”
“Is this going to lead to me achieving my goals”.

  1. Establish yearly goals

Most of us have a to do list. A to do list are your mini goals for the day and more often than not we over estimate what we can get done in a day.

What we also do is underestimate is what we can do in a year.

Start first with your goals for the year and then work backwards.
Then you can define what you should be doing on a daily basis and set up your ritual (see no 1)

  1. Turn off all notifications

There are notifications everywhere these days, on your phone, your PC or Mac, your tablet, watch etc.
Turn off any notifications that tell you that have mail, text, messenger, skype etc.

There are always notifications you need like calendar and maybe reminders for your next client phone call. But in the main the rest can be turned off.

Start by putting your phone on silent for half an hour at first, then an hour, then as long as you your business will allow. You’ll actually be surprised that no one missed you.

  1. To do lists

There’s a theory that’s gaining momentum about the little old to do list.
Basically you shouldn’t use a daily list but have a continual list. Having a daily to do list just exerts extra pressure and the reality is that most of us never tick off everything on there. So items you didn’t get around to, roll over to the next day and then the next day and the next day and so on.

Better to have permanent list that gets added and subtracted to and then schedule time to do this in your calendar.

  1. Calendar scheduling

Speaking of scheduling there’s a saying what doesn’t get scheduled gets doesn’t get done. You could turn that around and say whatever get scheduled gets done. But you get the point. Whichever calendar you use whether it be Google, Outlook or Apple you can easily schedule time to do certain tasks, if not all of them and add reminders.

  1. Unsubscribe, do, delete or delegate

We spend so much time in our inbox these days. There are countless apps and theories on how to manage your inbox. Trouble is working them out is almost as much work as it to actually process your inbox.

It’s easier to either unsubscribe, delete, delegate or just do it.

In getting things done by David Allen, he advocates only acting on an email if it it’s going to take a small amount of time

Anything more and if you’ve decided it still needs action by you, then decide when.

  1. Use a Voice Recorder or Smartphone App to take notes on the go

Inspiration often comes from outside the workplace, so make a habit of recording your ideas whenever they pop into your head.

I use a voice recorder and a note-taking app on my phone, and carry around a notepad

  1. Research on your Phone during downtime

Use your smartphone to research when you find yourself waiting around.

That might be waiting in shopping lines, riding public transport, or anywhere else you find yourself waiting

  1. Audiobooks and Podcasts

Audiobooks and podcasts that help your business and your professional development are great to listen to whilst travelling.

Extra tip: Try speeding it up to 1.3-1.5. Our brains are capable of handling speech at faster speed than normal speed.

  1. The 80/20 Principle

Also known as the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 principle is the idea that 80% of your output will come from 20% of your effort. Start by eliminating or delegating non-essential tasks that don’t impact results.

The more you focus on things that will affect your business, the more you’ll get done with less effort.

  1. Delegate

If someone else can do a task 80% as well as you can, and you don’t have time to do it yourself, consider handing it off to another team member.

  1. Hiring Help

Don’t have time to do everything yourself? Consider hiring freelance help if you can.

  1. The Pomodoro Technique

Try using the Pomodoro technique throughout your workday.

It’s a productivity method where you work in 25-minute bursts, separated by 5-minute break periods.

There’s a free app available called, surprisingly, “Pomodoro”

  1. Don’t multitasking

Studies show you’ll get much more done, faster if you focus on one task at a time rather than try to multi-task.

  1. Checklists

Create task checklists to keep yourself on track for your projects. Checklists are an effective tool for getting things done. And it feels good to check them off as done.

  1. Never start a meeting without an agenda

Meetings are a pet hate of mine! Plan your meetings and set timers. Never go into a meeting without an agenda or a goal that the meeting is going to help achieve.

  1. Only Use Tools That Show Real Benefits

With the many tools and software services that are available, we often end up with non-productive tools. Get rid of them! That saves time and money all in one fell swoop.

  1. Take On Your Toughest Task First Thing In The Morning

Do your most IMPORTANT task first thing in the morning, to free up mental space to take on the rest of your day.

  1. Sleep

    Asleep on the job

    Asleep on the job

Get a good night’s sleep. Some say 7-8 hours per night. The more you get the more you’ll get done and with less effort, if you’re well rested. Working when you are tired leads to less energy as the day progresses.

There’s many more but I’d really like to hear from you any additional tips or tricks that you have.

You may be using some of the above but have adapted it for your own use. Great! Please share what you do.

So please leave your comments in the box below.

While you are at it why not subscribe for future updates here.
You’ll get my free guide “Eleven easy ways to improve your marketing photography”.

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The essential feature to have on your camera

This follows on from my previous post Why selecting a new camera is like selecting a new date (or TV).

Over the next few weeks I’m going to suggest some essential features you need to consider having when you are in the market for a new camera or even mobile phone with a camera.

At the end of each feature I’ll give a rating out of 10 – 10 being must have.

At the end of the series if you haven’t had time to read them all then you can scroll to the bottom of the last in the series and get all four in a PDF.

When we were in the market for a new TV, we discussed all the different features and benefits with retailers and become absolutely confused by salespeople in different shops telling us something different about the same TV.

For example, one would say this TV doesn’t have Freeview plus whilst another would say that it does.

In the end I researched on each manufacturers website and even rang them to ensure that the information I had gathered was accurate.

After doing that we went and bought the TV we wanted.

So what about the features and benefits of a new camera?
Well compared to TV’s I think there way more things to think about and personally I believe that there are too many features that are just not needed!

So over the next few weeks I’m going to suggest some essential features you need to consider having when you are in the market for a new camera or even mobile phone.

At the end of each feature I’ll give a rating out of 10 – 10 being must have.

At the end of the series a free cheat sheet for will be available for you to have on hand when you need it.

So let’s start with absolute must!!

Mechanical Exposure controls
Usually on most cameras there are a P, A, S and M modes.

However, on small compacts there usually is only a P mode and on smartphone cameras, even the best ones, they don’t yet have the option to adjust the exposure the “old fashioned way”.

So what’s with the “old fashioned way”? Well without going into a great deal of details on how a camera works, I’ll explain:

All cameras have an aperture and a shutter. Both allow light into the sensor but differently. The aperture allows in light by changing the size of its hole, the shutter allows in light by the speed of its movement.

Having the option of being able to control both or at least one of these is one of the keys to getting great photography.

So what do all these letters mean?

P stands for program and is basically a slightly more sophisticated way of shooting in auto.
The camera decides which aperture and shutter speed to use but you can also weigh in by using what’s called in the industry “shift”.

A stands for aperture priority and S stands for shutter priority.
In both these modes you control one whilst the other one is controlled by the camera. Most pro photographers depending on their specialisation will shoot in aperture priority.

M is where you have complete control you set both the aperture and the shutter speed and is not something a beginner would dabble in until they have goCamera_0216_017t some experience with the other modes.

Confused?

Let’s simplify. Basically if you want to take a photo of a product with all the background blurred than you would need to adjust the aperture.

If on the other hand you want to take a photo of movement, say one of your dance students practicing or performing then you would more than likely want to adjust the shutter to capture the type of movement you want.

So It’s really handy to have that degree of control.

What’s that you say?

You’re only beginning so you just need auto.

That’s fine however I would suggest that if you really want to create images that represent your brand then at some time in the future you will need a greater degree of control.

One additional control that goes hand in hand with exposure is ISO adjustment.

In fact the aperture, shutter speed and ISO are called the exposure triangle.

That is to say that adjustment of one affects the other two.

With each camera manufacturer trying to outdo each other, the ISO on a top end DSLR can now be adjusted to over 400,000 which is crazy, as now the camera can take pictures in the dark!

When you change your ISO setting, you’re adjusting your camera’s sensitivity to light.

ISO settings are normally anywhere from 100 to 10,000 (or higher), and these numbers have a direct relationship with the device’s sensitivity and therefore the aperture and shutter speed, so a lower setting means you need more light whilst a high setting needs less.

Rating: A or S is 10/10

So did you understand all that? I’m happy to clarify anything you’re not sure of.
Just post in the comments section below. Don’t be shy.
While you are at it why not subscribe for future updates here.
You’ll get my free guide “Eleven easy ways to improve your marketing photography”.