What causes inertia, or procrastination? I think that there are many different causes. Sometimes, it is something simple, like a holiday or a vacation. After some time off, a few lazy days with the family, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. Some of us are perennial procrastinators, always feeling unprepared and undisciplined. Other people just don’t know what to do next. And then there are those of us that are disorganized by nature — without a plan, and because of that, not much gets done.
No matter what causes inertia for you, there is a simple solution, and that is to schedule your photography so that you know each day what you will do and how much time you have to get it done. This is doubly important for hobbyists. Those of us with a career in photography almost certainly already have some semblance of a schedule, even if it is a sketchy one. But for the people that photograph around another job, photography is one of those secondary activities that tends to get lost in the shuffle of daily life.
Let’s discuss the things that should be scheduled and how to build a schedule so that you can avoid inertia.
The most effective schedules are detailed ones. Of course, planning down to the minute is impossible, but on any given day that you plan to work on photography, you should know what you’ll be doing in the morning, afternoon or evening. This means that you should break photography down into its component pieces in order to organize your time.
As you can see, there are a lot of different things that require time and attention. Skipping or putting off any one of them is detrimental to your art.
When it comes to actually putting your schedule together, it is totally up to you. Use a calendar, daily planner or a smartphone app, whatever you prefer. Scheduling activities for different days and times is completely up to you as well.
One piece of advice that I would give, however, is to have a flexible attitude about your schedule. Build in some extra time to make up for unplanned delays, and don’t adhere so strictly to your schedule that you miss out on your child’s school play because you had already planned to spend the evening post processing. That bit of extra make-up time is essential. Things rarely ever go exactly as planned, so if your schedule has some leeway, you won’t end up with an enormous backlog of work to do.
The other important thing is to approach your schedule with the idea that it can be changed any time you need. That isn’t to say that you should just throw out your schedule whenever you’d rather procrastinate. Instead, it means that you should constantly evaluate your schedule from day to day and week to week. Perhaps you’ll find that post processing last week’s images on Monday evening just isn’t working out because you’d rather get that work done directly after you’ve taken the images. Or, maybe you just feel the need to mix things up and make life interesting. The reasons don’t matter, really. What matters is that you have the ability to design new schedules that suit your workflow as you go along.
The last thing to remember about scheduling is that you should always leave yourself with some time off — the weekend, a couple of evenings, whatever you can manage. For hobbyists, this is in particular a challenge because there just isn’t much time left after work and day-to-day chores, so in order to really engage in photography, it almost must be scheduled on days off. In these cases, perhaps a weekend away from photography each month, or a similar arrangement, is just what is needed to get that much needed break.
You’ll find that the most productive people are the ones that make schedules and stick to them. This is the biggest tool in your arsenal that can be used against procrastination and inertia.