Self-Employment ~ Lessons Learned ~ Three Cheers for Office Days

In case the title of this post doesn’t give you a big enough clue…. I’m SUPER STOKED that I realized I needed to schedule in work days months in advance into my calendar this year – JUST FOR WORKING. No meetings. No shoots. No outside plans. Just an empty day on the calendar – dedicated to whatever I needed to get done that day (usually editing), general business upkeep, and for my mental health! haha

Last year I nearly lost my mind with all the running about town I was doing that I realized I needed to do something different. So this year I made it a point to book all the things that require me to leave the house on the same day if possible. I would rather be running out and about from 9am ’til 9pm for one day, than running out and about every day for 2-3 hours.

I’ve learned that I am completely, terribly unproductive when I have something planned for later in the day. If I have a meeting to go to, or session to shoot – my mind constantly worries about it. I have to be showered by a certain time and leave the house extra early (thanks Chicago traffic) to get to my commitment on time. For some reason knowing I have to do that makes it incredibly hard for me to focus on anything else, even if I try really hard.



Anyway – now I know to schedule a certain amount of office days per week for each session or wedding I have out of the office. As soon as I book a wedding, I put an office day on my calendar. As soon as I book a session, I put 1/2 an office day on my calendar (& combine it with other sessions to get to a full office day – since that’s the point). That way I fill up my calendar with BALANCE instead of with INSANITY. haha. 🙂

It seems like so many people glorify being busy now-a-days… especially in our industry. Everybody is all… “I have 4 weddings, 12 sessions, and an elopement on the moon* all in a week!!!” And all I can think is… “Have you lost your mind?!” haha  (*Thanks Katie Nesbitt for the shoots on the moon reference! lol)



I realized pretty quickly that I wanted my business to help me MAKE a life for myself, not to BE my life.

I knew if I kept up at the crazy pace I was doing last year (& before that even) I would burn out really quickly. And that’s no good for me, or for my clients. (Or my marriage, or friendships… or anyone really.)

Is it hard to turn people down when I see an empty day on my calendar? Yes. But am I glad I did it when that day shows up? YES. Take yesterday, for example… I scheduled in an office day (thank the lord) and I was able to be so productive! I woke up without feeling the stress of – “OH MY GOSH I HAVE 4 HOURS TO GET EVERYTHING I ABSOLUTELY NEED TO GET DONE TODAY DONE, AND THEN GET MY BUTT READY & OUT THE DOOR TO WORK SOME MORE!!”



Instead, I ate breakfast on the back deck. I meditated with the morning sun warming my face. I made a list of what I needed to do and got to it without stress or pressure. I was productive. I took a break to pick up peonies from my favorite little flowers shop, Larkspur. I worked some more. I took a little afternoon break to dance with Ellen, and vacuumed the house. I worked some more. I took a little break to walk to the post office to drop off our mail with Chloe. I worked some more. I finished work at a reasonable hour, grilled out with James, and enjoyed a relaxing night at home.

None of the above would have been possible had I not forced myself to schedule that day! The rest of the week is busy with sessions and heading to Wisconsin this weekend for a wedding and another session. So you can bet your pretty little face that I’m SO HAPPY I had yesterday to balance me out and to catch up on work!



So for anyone out there finding themselves “glorifying busy”. Please stop. Look around and ask yourself if a life of running around like a chicken with your head cut off – so stressed out you can’t sleep at night is really what you were going for when you decided to work for yourself (or at whatever job you’re at – for that matter). I’m going to take a wild guess and say it wasn’t.

So slow down. Make time for yourself. (Yes, schedule it months in advance!) Make time for balance in your life. It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it. Trust me.



(**All photos taken throughout the day yesterday on my iPhone.)



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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!