In Praxis, independence and personal growth are both heavily emphasized and encouraged. Though there are many skills and traits that I value about myself (like My Top Three Skills), there are plenty of attributes and habits that I know I need to improve upon. Though I wouldn't consider myself a poor performer in any of these following categories, I also know I have a lot of untapped potentials that I can attain if I make a conscious effort to grow every day.
I've compiled a brief list of the five traits I most want to gain and develop moving forward, along with possible ways that I could make an effort to build on what I currently have.
Staying motivated is probably the biggest challenge that I face on a day-to-day basis. It's always been this way, regardless of the role I'm in: be a photographer or web developer. Frequently, namely in personal projects, I'll struggle to see the task through completion which leaves me with a large collection of half-loved websites and photoshoot concepts, collecting dust on my hard drive.
I've found that setting an agenda for myself to adhere to a day or so ahead of time gives me clarity on what I need to focus on. I'm in a bit of a paradoxical situation as I love working for myself, however, it's almost as if I need the regimented structure of an organized company to keep me on my toes. By creating a schedule with incentives (such as coffee breaks or lunch - you get the idea) I have found myself to accomplish more and feel like I've actually put in "a day's work" come evening.
Bouncing off of that previous theme of drive, focus is something that I also have a hard time wrangling into submission. I pride myself on being able to see large commercial projects through in multiple fields simultaneously, but I have a tendency to bounce back and forth between tasks, especially if something is proving difficult with the intent of returning to the task at hand. For example, I'll be working on a website and get flustered as my implementation of a feature is not working, so I'll start to edit a photo session, but in the process completely lose sight of what I set out to accomplish that morning (the website) and end up falling behind on the project.
I've tried to use time management tools like the Pomodoro Technique in the past to combat this and I think it's time to attempt that again. Holding myself accountable doesn't work as much as I'd like it to (going back to drive) so using an external tool might just be enough to do the trick.
Running your own business isn't easy, and, in my case, running two is even harder. I have both the photography side of my brand (doing both private and commercial work) and I also develop websites and web apps for businesses and non-profits. Often times I feel so overwhelmed with projects on my taskboard that I end up accomplishing way less than if I just tackled one item at a time.
Breaking larger tasks into smaller "mini-projects" has helped me in the past while working for companies and I haven't tried to implement that in my personal workflow. I think using pen-and-paper or a tool like Trello could me zoom in on components of larger projects so I can knock specific tasks out each day instead of feeling like I'm chipping away at a mountain of a project that seemingly has no end.
I have the deepest, longest-running love/hate relationship with my inbox. Quite obviously it allows me to keep in contact with clients, meet new people, and stay on top of my life, but at what cost? I spend probably an hour each day (on a productive day) going through messages and emails, sorting, replying, and deleting in order to maintain my sanity. All is fine and dandy as long as I can come back to the inbox each day, but if I'm away for an extended period (3+ days) and don't have time to get around to de-cluttering my inbox, when I do finally have time to return and see the trainwreck that is my messages, I cry silently to myself and push the task of replying off for tomorrow.
Unfortunately, tomorrow is never actually tomorrow and I end up missing important, time-sensitive emails that could be anything from bills to new client inquiries. It doesn't help that my communication streams are stratified across Instagram, Facebook, email, and Twitter.
I think the best way to combat this madness is to make a point to do a bit of housekeeping on my messages while I'm away and ask that people who inquire about work on other platforms use the contact form on my website to get in touch with me. That way I only have one firehose of communication to drink from instead of being bombarded from all sides. Then, I can carve out a specific time slot every morning to knock out replying.
As much as I pride myself on being a social, personable human, I often find myself to be too dependent on other people to find my own happiness and productivity. It's counter-intuitive at first, really, as I am a freelancer so most of my work is done by myself, but that doesn't mean I am at my peak productivity or happiness while doing so.
This is an adjustment from a few years ago when I was very introverted and only met up with friends once a week at the most. There were pros and cons to that lifestyle, but I believe it is time for myself to find a happy medium. Instead of always being the person to say "yes" to hanging out, getting lunch, and going on trips, I can limit myself so I can focus on my work. I would not say I am afraid of saying no, but I definitely don't like it. I'm sure that the more I get comfortable with prioritizing work and my education, the easier it will be to naturally see that as of greater importance than seeing the latest movie in the cinema or spending additional money to go out to eat.
I would like to spend the rest of this month working on dutifully implementing the suggestions I have made to myself in this post and see if my productivity increases as a result. I could measure this by the average number of days I deliver projects before/after projected completion dates and compare that with my current average. Wish me luck!