A few years ago I read two books that really changed my work-from-home habits, and quite frankly, how I live. These are two of my favorites that you will hear me recommend time and time again: The One Thing, by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan, and The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod. These have helped me to create an ideal way to start my mornings. Being intentional about the first hour of each day has created the biggest shift in my life and my photography business.
If you’re a photographer who works from home (don’t we all, now?), you know how important it is to create routines and transitions for going in and out of work-mode. Let’s face it—your work-from-home habits can make or break your ability to be productive and efficient. And your ability to be productive and efficient can cost you money, time and more work. One my favorite quotes about habits is by Dr. Mike Murdock:
Now, I love my morning routine just as much as the next creative business owner. But I’ve come to know that being intentional with how you end the day is equally as important. As I shared in My Morning Routine, “A productive morning actually starts the night prior.”
So how can you set yourself up for a productive day? What are the work-from-home habits that will give your mind, body and spirit what it needs the night before?
While my morning routine has grown to be pretty solid at this point, a proper shutdown to my day is still largely a work in progress. But I thought I’d share a bit of what I’ve been working towards lately.
Borrow any or all of these habits to start building your own ideal evening routine.
I’ve worked from home since I started my wedding photography business nearly fourteen years ago. Developing a proper shut down has been crucial to my ability to actually stop working and transition into the evening. When Chad joined the business about ten years ago, we not only began working together, but we were now working from home together. We were together all the time! Spending quality time together that wasn’t engrossed with work became key in our personal and business relationship. While we started by setting an ideal ‘stop work’ time and pouring a glass of wine, our routine has evolved and we’ve improved our work-from-home habits over time (and will continue to).
First, I’d like to give a disclaimer that these routines are not created to give you zero flexibility in your life or to tie you down. The point is not to create more things you need to do each day. I offer these as a set of habits that actually make you feel good and help you to be your best and most productive self. That said, there are days that none of these things happen. Or, days that I work super late or when watching TV is the best we can do.
It’s all about setting up an ideal evening and then doing the best you can. Give yourself the grace and flexibility to adjust over time. Let it be what works for you.
So, first, let’s talk about properly shutting down at the end of a work day. Here are some of the steps that I do to sufficiently close out the work day when I’m in the office.
1. Do an Email and Slack Sweep: I quickly scan my messages to ensure I’ve answered any pressing requests, closed out the inbox and relayed any tasks that I need the KT Merry Team to finish up.
2. Social sweep. If I plan to post that evening, I will post and then make sure I engage for about 15 minutes—answering DMs, responding to comments, and networking (Yes, I have a “relationship wishlist!” I talk all about this inside The Abundance Plan for photographers). I make sure to comment, like and engage with the people I want to work with.
3. To do list. Anything that I didn’t get done, I put on my list for tomorrow. If needed, I’ll add it to my tasks in Asana—one of my favorite productivity tools!
4. Next, I revisit my #dailybig3 and make a mental note of my progress. My Daily Big 3 are the three most important things I’m aiming to accomplish or focus on that day. I’m also going to have a look back at my #weeklysprint and ensure that I’m tracking towards accomplishing my goals for the week.
5. Finally, I physically tidy my desk. This one is so important! A messy workspace does not inspire creativity or productivity, so I make sure to leave it nice and neat before I ‘clock out.’
Once I leave my desk for the day I generally don’t return unless there is a pressing or urgent matter that needs my attention. My desk is literally right in the middle of our tiny home, so I consciously choose the mindset that I’ve ‘shut off the lights’ in the office. When I’m out, I’m out!
After the office is closed, I head to the kitchen for one of my favorite traditions—Reading Happy Hour. Phrase coined by yours truly.
On our best days, Chad and I meet at the same time (usually about 5:30 or 6pm) and turn on some mood music—French or Latin Jazz being a personal favorite. We pour a glass of wine or make a martini (another favorite) for an hour of reading. During quarantine this became a daily routine for us and we got a lot of reading done! It’s something we try to do as often as possible.
So what does that look like? We cut up some apple slices or a bit of cheese and take our drinks and books out to the porch and read. It’s exactly what it sounds like! It’s a wonderful way to decompress from the day and time block some reading. Apart from first-hand experience, books have been my biggest source of education and inspiration. I typically have a few titles going at once, and it’s my absolute favorite way to end the day. (And dare I say, continue to be productive?)
And if reading sounds like a chore to you, check this out: According to the World Literacy Foundation,
So you don’t need a whole hour to enjoy the stress-reducing benefits of reading, but you may as well enjoy that glass of wine a bit longer.
After Reading Happy Hour, it’s time to cook! Chad and I are both vegetarian foodies and we love to cook when we’re home and not traveling. We’ll head back inside and begin dinner prep, cooking side by side making plant-based meals. I have too many favorite recipes to pick just one, but you can find some of them on Pinterest here.
Once dinner is ready, we’ll head back outside to eat on our porch overlooking the water and to catch up on the day. There is still no substitute for simply enjoying one another’s company around the dinner table. And I think many of us have rediscovered this truth during these long, quarantine months.
After dinner, we clean up the kitchen because nobody wants that to be a part of their morning routine! Then, if we are home, we might watch something on the TV. I have thoughts about this below. If we have a foster dog (which we do right now!), we’ll take a nightly dog walk and then come home and relax.
A little note about TV: when we’re traveling, we watch zero TV. First of all, we don’t typically have the time for it. But most importantly, I find it to be a huge distraction to my work and being present to my clients.
But during quarantine, like most people, we found ourselves watching more TV. I love a good show (hello, “Friends”!), documentary or movie, but being in tune with how I feel and how that consumption affects me is really important as a creative business owner. When we watch TV more than usual, or a few days in a row, I don’t feel as calm, centered and clear-headed. And this is especially vital right before bed! The Sleep Foundation notes that:
So I really have to get intentional and make sure that I’m giving my mind a break from the constant stimulation (read: screens!), and instead, have a quiet evening with a good book or a long walk. This also includes being diligent about keeping my phone away from my bed at night. And don’t get me started on working with the television on….more people do it than will admit, but you know who you are!
Just before bed, I give us both our vitamins. If I’m doing really good, I make a cup of tea with Manuka honey, a squeeze of lemon and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. It’s the perfect night cap for restful sleep.
Lastly, I wash my face and use face oils, eye cream and my favorite night cream. Some nights I will turn on the Calm App or Rain Rain app (I love their ambient fireplace track) that auto turns off after the timer expires.
And then I am off to dreamland, ready for a restful night and a productive day ahead.
I hope you find these work-from-home habits helpful. Remember, these habits are not meant to be restrictive or perfectly executed every day. Start small and find what works for you. Ultimately, what makes you feel your best is the routine that works.
I have a slew of other practices, habits and routines that I delve into in my digital course for photographers—The Abundance Plan . I believe that an abundant business begins with a lifestyle of abundance, and that healthy work-from-home (or work-from-anywhere!) habits fuel and increase your chances at having an abundant business.
If you’re looking for a step-by-step program to help you build a profitable, sustainable, six-figure photography business, join my Waitlist below. You’ll be the first to receive updates on the next enrollment:
've spent the past decade capturing love and chasing beauty across the globe, and I believe every story like yours is different and special, and deserves to be told exceptionally.
Drawing on years of experience in the fashion and editorial photography industry, my photographs are graceful, honest and boldly natural, while completely intentional. Whether it’s the opportunity to narrate the retelling of once-in-a-lifetime wedding days, or the ability to communicate issues of global importance, or all the stories in between, I look at photography as the method by which I get to leave the world a little better than I found it.
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