"The busy season!" Oh my! Many people find themselves in a job or other role where they can define a busy season. For accountants, March and April are typically a very busy season. For retailers, delivery services, and many others, the Christmas season is their busy season. For most photographers, especially in Ohio, September and October define the busy season. Needless to say, I expected to remain busy though those months, and I anticipated some down time to follow. I actually came up with a list of things to pursue and accomplish in my "off" season so that I would still be "busy," and more importantly, "productive."
This is such a funny word when you think about it. First of all, shouldn't it be spelled "bizzy?" As you can see, the phonics lessons from the Sisters of the Humility of Mary are still ingrained in my brain from elementary school. The word "busy" is defined as having a great deal to do. And, notice that it is the base word in "business," which implies that having a business requires you to be busy. But what connotations come with the word "busy?" It really depends on the context in which it is used.
I am certainly guilty of using the word to convey both negative and positive messages. I can still hear my voice in earlier years whining something to the tune of, "I am just so busy that I don't know what to do." I am not proud of those rants, but they were part of my reality. At the time, being overly busy felt like an unavoidable part of life. Striving to be the attentive wife and mother while giving my students the best science education and experience that I knew they deserved required me to carry way more on my plate than was humanly possible. I was setting myself up for failure and making my version of "busy" a very negative, exhausting, and counterproductive part of my life.
Today, I feel the need to still use the word "busy," but in a positive and reaffirming way. When people ask me how my photography business is going, I have found myself smiling and saying with much satisfaction that, "It is great! I have been really busy!" I find that so interesting that I feel the need to share that I am busy. Why? Why do I equate being busy with the success of my photography business?
Getting more clients and more portrait sessions is an indicator of the success of my business and those things certainly keep me busy. Learning to properly account for my income, operating expenses, cost of sales, taxes, etc. keep me busy. Continually defining my brand and delivering consistent messaging about my brand keep me busy. Preparing for custom personalized sessions, being responsive to clients in the most kind and thorough manner, sharing my work in an exciting way, maintaining my equipment, refining my technique... all of these things fill my days, weeks and months. So, "busy" seems like an appropriate descriptor.
Nonetheless, I feel the need to change my response to something that is more appropriate for how I feel about the current state of my business. I think that we, as a society, need to stop the glorification of "being busy." It seems that there is the perception that someone must be busy in order to have worth or to be successful. "Unsuccessful people are busy being busy. Successful people are busy being productive." -Kevin Abdulrahman What a profound statement. So, maybe I need to adopt the adjective "productive" to really describe my photography business. Think about the shift in perception that comes with describing my business as "productive" rather than just "busy." It implies that my hard work is getting results and that is my goal.
So, how do I make this shift from being "busy" to being "productive?" I make sure that I am "busy with a purpose." I invest myself in the activities that I believe will help to improve my business and to better serve my clients. There are a million things that I would love to be working on right now, but I know my limitations. I know that doing a few things well will give my clients a better experience than doing lots of things just so so. "It's not so much how busy you are, but WHY you are busy. The bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted." - Mary O'Connor I want to be the bee. I want to produce something that will thrill my clients and empower my continued growth. In this way, I can ensure that the things that keep me busy have both meaning and purpose.
This recent shift from an emphasis on being "busy" to an emphasis on being "productive" has revealed some much-appreciated benefits. It really hit me one day after a trip to the grocery store. I must first explain that growing up and living in a small town means that I am related to half of the population and I have worked with the other half in one capacity or another. Well, on this particular grocery store trip, in typical fashion, I ran into several people I had not seen in a while and I did carry on some rather lengthy conversations with them. My daughters have come to expect this, but what was different this time was my attitude about the encounters. I can remember a time when I would have held the conversation out of courtesy, but inside, I would have been in knots as my stress level would rise just thinking about how much time I had lost and how I was never going to get those minutes back and that I would be up even later trying to get everything done so that the next day could happen. I think I felt my blood pressure rise just writing that sentence. That was the old "busy me." The new "productive me" came away from that very long grocery store trip full of nothing but gratitude. I felt so grateful that I could hold those conversations and be totally present and attend to what they were saying, rather than thinking about how much work waited for me. I felt gratitude that I actually have so many wonderful people around me who care to share some of their precious time talking to me. I felt gratitude that I could carry a little happy nugget from our encounter with me throughout my day. I felt gratitude that I could take some time to thank God for putting me in this place at this time and to be able to see a much bigger picture in which I have a role. Wow. What a difference.
So, I am happy to proclaim that, "My business is great! I have been really productive!" But, it is the "off" season for a photographer. How have I been productive? Oh my! I have creatively found a way to use some inside space for a studio to hold some portrait sessions. I have been working through my Business Challenge Class through PPA. I am getting totally energized by participating in the Ultimate Posing Course, and I am learning to take my portraits to the next level by working through a Photoshop course. I am participating in some wonderful networking groups and making some great new partnerships. I am practicing with a new lens and finding any excuse to shoot, shoot, shoot.
So, bring on that "busy season!" I will continue to be productive. I am so energized and excited for what Laura Esposito Photography can offer in 2018!
You make the memories; I will help you cherish them.
Love and Smiles,