I’ve been wanting to write this article for years (even before Al Gore invented the internet). What follows is my story about how the most important lesson I learned early in my career was handed down to me by a very successful and generous businesswoman/investor whom I was working with at the time. Her information, insights and suggestions have been incredibly helpful throughout my career and it’s now time to send them on……
The year is 1980. I’ve built and opened my first photo studio in Hollywood on Hollywood blvd. at 6412. Second floor, above the Woolworths store (that is of course no longer there). Near the corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga. Read a bit more about my first studio here.
I began my career shooting actor headshots and model portfolios. I’m in the studio one morning, the phone rings and it’s a woman whose niece is coming to stay with her for the summer. Her niece is into being a model so the aunt is interviewing photographers to shoot her first portfolio. After a brief discussion, we decide to meet at her Beverly Hills mansion to get better acquainted and for me to scout it as a possible shoot location. I arrive and am impressed by the size and beauty of her home. I’m welcomed inside and after exchanging pleasantries, I hear a man talking about the stock market. His voice is coming from a television in another room. The topic intrigued me so I walked into the room to hear what he was saying. The aunt followed. I asked her why she was watching that channel and what she did to make a living. Rude, I know but, I was unable to think about anything else right then and there. I was 24 at the time and about to meet a young teenage girl for a potentially lucrative job. And all I could think about was how this woman could afford to live in Beverly Hills and be home during the day. Turns out she was an investor and listened to the stock market report everyday.
Said she: “I know my days of the week and times of day when I’m at my peak to perform specific tasks. If you’re a morning person than work with numbers, develop budgets, complete banking tasks, etc., when your head is clearest. Find the right time of day to do your creative work, the right time of day to interact with clients, the right time of day to shoot, etc. The same goes for knowing the best day of the week to work with vendors, work with clients, make sales calls, etc. In other words, know your rhythms. The middle of the day is when I work with numbers best.”
That bit of advice was the best I’ve ever received. Eye opening information. Career building information. After spending the time figuring out what my rhythms were, I developed the template I still use. For example, Mondays are admin days, when I complete paperwork, sign checks, do banking, make phone calls related to finances, budgets and bill paying. I do not (unless I’ve been requested to) contact clients or attempt to do anything creative, (again unless I have to). Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’m in client/sales mode and make my client contacts on those two days more often than not. I’ll send emails, craft letters and make phone calls. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are my most productive creative days and I try to book my shoots on those three days first. Of course when it comes to business, my clients get the days they want but if I can, I try to steer them to those three days. I also make the effort to schedule my teaching assignments on these three days as they are my best people days.
This system requires adherence, flexibility and practice. You must know yourself, your moods and know the times when you are most efficient specific tasks needing your attention at the time. When getting to know yourself on this intimate level, you may find yourself experiencing feelings that are uncomfortable. This is normal and once you push past this, you’ll realize a freedom and a strength that will honor and serve you throughout your self-employed careers.
Enjoy the process of knowing your rhythms.