As a wedding photographer coming out of busy season, the topic of boundary setting has been heavy on my mind. Over the past year, I have fallen victim to a few destructive habits that have led me to chronic exhaustion and overwhelm. I knew that I needed to make a change or burnout would swallow me up, so I did some digging to find the root cause of my emotions. Up until recently, work-life balance had seemed like a luxury I couldn’t afford. I have since learned that work-life balance is a NECESSITY for a successful business. Since that mindset shift, I’ve been able to create sustainable habits and boundaries for better work-life balance.
Educators in the industry often encourage beginners to take any/all sessions they can get their hands on. While that advice can be useful in finding your style and honing in on your editing skills, the side effects can be detrimental. Pumping out sessions, editing late into the night, and grinding 24/7 until you’ve “made it” (spoiler alert: there’s no such thing) is what leads you to burnout. You cannot pour from an empty cup…read that again!
This is exactly what happened to me. I bought into the idea that in order to be successful, I needed to do it all; offer EVERY type of session, drive to ANY location, take on EVERY wedding, regardless of the personal sacrifice that it caused. This summer after overextending myself to the point of exhaustion, I finally realized that something needed to change. Owning your own business, should NOT mean barely keeping afloat.
Regardless of where you’re at in your business, you have the power to create a schedule that works for YOU, not the other way around. I went from offering sessions 7 days a week to ONLY Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during busy season (May- October.) This simple shift has allowed me to:
Another simple, yet life-changing shift was asking my clients to come to me. Instead of driving all over Iowa for a session, I now (confidently) ask if they’d be willing to come to my area, or meet in the middle. If not, I charge a travel fee!
Naturally fear set in as I set these boundaries, but to my surprise, SUCCESS IS WHAT HAPPENED. My couples and clients have been nothing but accepting of these new changes and the pushback I was so afraid of… was non-existent. When you start respecting yourself and your time, support will follow.
In addition to setting boundaries with your clients, start setting boundaries with YOURSELF! Minimizing distractions and creating a clear plan of action will help you achieve discipline.
Create a dedicated work schedule. What days do you want to work and what days do you want to off?
Time-block your daily tasks and STICK TO IT! Setting an alarm can help with this.
Put your phone on “do not disturb” or in another room. This has been a GAME-CHANGER for my productivity.
Turn OFF your notifications and only check them during set hours.
24-48 hours is a NORMAL response time, emails can wait!
Setting boundaries early on in your business will help you avoid costly mistakes, and set yourself up for success. Your mental and physical health should always come first! Respect your time and efforts, and your clients will do the same.