(Editor's Note: This post was a collaboration between WeddingIQ co-editors Jennifer Reitmeyer and Kyle Bergner.)
Most of us fall into one category or the other: early birds or night owls. Fortunately, in a creative field like weddings, we're able to have more flexible schedules than many other businesspeople. We still have to be professional, accessible and productive, though, so here are our tips on making the most of our natural rhythms as we run our businesses.
Jen's Tips for Early Birds:
Be an even earlier bird. Especially if you work in a busy office or have chaotic mornings with your family, it's important to reserve the earliest time possible to get a jump start on your day. First thing in the morning is a great time to skim the news, catch up on emails (especially those subscriptions and newsletters than tend to pile up) and check in on social media. By knocking those things out while you have your coffee, you can then get into the "real" work while there's still plenty of productive hours in the day.
Block your time into chunks, and minimize distractions. As the day goes on, it's very easy to get swept up in the endless back-and-forth of email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. If you work in a retail/studio space or an office environment, you can also be easily distracted by people dropping in to chat. Before you know it, the whole day has passed without you having accomplished anything significant in terms of creative projects or administrative tasks. Shutting down some of your browser tabs (and all social media), utilizing music or white noise - through headphones if possible - and setting timers for chunks of time can go a long way in keeping you on track.
Be mindful that your colleagues may function differently. I have many friends in our industry whose body clock works entirely different from mine - I wouldn't dream of calling or texting these people before about 11am, and I don't expect email answers from them before this time, either.
Try to reserve a little evening availability. Most of our clients are also juggling 9-5 careers as they try to plan their weddings, and while some have the luxury of private offices and unlimited phone/Internet time, many others do not. You'll maintain a competitive edge if you're accessible, either via email or phone, for at least a couple of hours "after hours," when many clients are able to focus on reaching out to and meeting vendors.
Set an end point to your day. It's 5pm (or maybe 6 or 7), you've put in a good eight hours, and now it's time to give yourself a break. No need to stay on the clock just because your night owl colleagues are just getting started with their work! Taking time to rest and recharge is so important to your well-being and to your continued productivity.
Kyle's Tips for Night Owls:
Find your most effective work time. I don’t get really cranking till after lunch and save my most creative or difficult tasks for the afternoon and early evening. It took me years to figure this out about myself after trying to force myself into a 9-5 schedule. Working with your natural rhythms will make you more efficient. Perhaps keep a journal to record when you’re tired or had a spurt of productivity. Over time you’ll find out when you’re most effective.
Don’t feel pressured to work all the time. When you own your own business you get to set your own hours. Don’t let family and friends who have a 9-5 make you feel guilty for sleeping in or not starting your day till noon. Chances are they are relaxing with their families on the weekend or enjoying down time in the evening when you’re meeting with clients and working events. Whether your "off" hours are in the morning or at random times during the week, you still need time to unwind or take care of personal tasks.
Automation is your friend. If you want to give the impression that you're up in the morning with the masses, schedule your late night emails, blog posts and social media to automatically go out during business hours. There are many apps such as Hootsuite and Buffer that will post to multiple platforms at the time of your choosing. Voicemail and answering services can take care of those early morning callers and give the impression that you are open for business while you’re still asleep or sipping your coffee.
Find some friends with the same schedule as you. This changed my life. For many years I spent most of my time defending my work hours to complete strangers or explaining why I couldn’t attend every weekend social event. There is nothing like having an opposite schedule to most of your family and friends to make you feel like a social pariah. Now I have a group of friends in my industry who I can socialize with on a Tuesday night and wouldn’t even think to call me before 10am.
However you function best, having routines in place and monitoring your own productivity is key to running a successful business, at any time of day.