Creating a Schedule as an Entrepreneur with Chronic Illness
If you also deal with a chronic illness, you know how much it affects your daily life and your business. And even for those without a chronic illness, if you’re someone who menstrates, you likely find that there are times during the month where you feel like you’re on top of the world. And then there are times where you feel like you accomplish nothing. Spoiler: there’s nothing wrong with you. You just need to create a schedule that works with your body.
And in today’s episode, I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend Sandra.
Sandra Henderson is a wedding photographer, business coach, and podcast host based in Ontario, Canada. She specializes in helping wedding photographers create strategic systems for their businesses to help them get their time back so they can spend it doing the things they love most. As an entrepreneur who also navigates chronic illness life, Sandra also takes a unique approach to using systems that will help businesses thrive no matter what life throws your way. On a personal note, she loves tacos, 90’s music, travelling, and spending time at home with her husband, step-son, and two cats!
Sandra is a fellow endometriosis warrior, and we connected about that and the idea of cycle syncing, which has majorly changed how I view my business. And today she’s sharing the three things she utilizes to create a schedule as a business owner with a chronic illness: boundaries, systems, and cycle syncing. Even if you don’t have a chronic illness, you’ll get so much from this episode, because we’re chatting all things sustainable scheduling.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Really quickly, before we dive into this episode – I just HAVE to share something I’m really excited about with you. My book, Chasing Simple Marketing, is launching this July. I wrote this book for the business owner that stumbled into entrepreneurship because they were following their passion. But without that Masters of Business Administration (MBA) or background in business, they find marketing overwhelming and frustrating. Throughout these pages, I’m going to take you on a simplicity-focused journey to improve your content marketing and you’ll walk away with an actionable plan to simplify your marketing, so that you can fit your marketing into your business, without it taking over your business. To learn more about how to grab your copy, and even potentially get on the launch team head over to amandawarfield.com/book/ See you there!
- This week’s episode is brought to you by the Chasing Simple Content Planner and you can grab your own at amandawarfield.com/planner/
- Episodes around Cycle Syncing
- My interview on Keeping it Candid
- CRM Tools – Honeybook Affiliate Link
- Episode about how I use Honeybook for Guest Interviews
- This week’s action step: 1) Start tracking everything cycle related. 2) Start embracing autoresponders.
- This week’s book recommendation: The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
- Find me on Instagram and tell me you completed this week’s action step: @mrsamandawarfield
Sandra Henderson is a wedding photographer, business coach, and podcast host based in Ontario, Canada. She specializes in helping wedding photographers create strategic systems for their businesses to help them get their time back so they can spend it doing the things they love most. As an entrepreneur who also navigates chronic illness life, Sandra also takes a unique approach to using systems that will help businesses thrive no matter what life throws your way. On a personal note, she loves tacos, 90’s music, travelling, and spending time at home with her husband, step-son, and two cats!
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*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate
If you also deal with a chronic illness, you know how much it affects your daily life and your business, and even for those without a chronic illness, if you’re someone who menstruates, you likely find that there are times during the month where you feel like you’re on top of the world, and then there are times where you feel like you accomplish nothing, spoiler.
There’s nothing wrong with you. You just need to create a schedule that works with your body. And in today’s episode, I am so excited to introduce you to my friend Sandra. Sandra Henderson is a wedding photographer, business coach and podcast host based in Ontario, Canada. She specializes in helping wedding photographers create strategic systems for their businesses to help them get their time back so that they can spend it doing the things they love most.
As an entrepreneur who also navigates chronic illness life, Sandra also takes a unique approach to using systems that will help businesses thrive no matter what. Life throws your way. On a personal note, she loves taco’s, nineties music, traveling and spending time at home with her husband’s stepson and two cats.
Sandra is a fellow endometriosis warrior and we connected about that and the idea of cycle syncing, which has majorly changed how I view my business. And today she’s sharing the three things she utilizes to create a schedule as a business owner with a chronic illness. Boundaries systems, and cycle syncing.
Even if you don’t have a chronic illness, you’ll get so much from this episode because we’re chatting all things sustainable scheduling. You’re listening to episode 174 of The Chasing Simple Podcast, and I’m your host, Amanda Warfield. This episode was brought to you by my book, Chasing Simple Marketing, and you can grab your own copy at amandawarfield.com/book
How do I find time to create content without overwhelming myself? Where should I even be showing up in my marketing? How do I come up with fresh content ideas? Where should I be focusing my marketing efforts? What is lead generation anyways and how do I do it? Are launches still a thing? And most importantly, how do I put it all together to market my business strategically?
Can I really grow my business without spending all of my time marketing? These are some of the questions that float around in your head when you think of marketing. Welcome friend. This is Chasing Simple Where Practical Marketing Strategy Meets Simplicity. I’m your host, Amanda Warfield, simplicity focused content marketing and launch strategist, speaker educator, and author of Chasing Simple Marketing.
I traded in my classroom lesson plan for helping creative entrepreneurs sustainably fit marketing into their business without it taking over their business. So that they have time to grow their business, take time off and live the life they dreamed about when they first decided to go out on their own.
When I’m working, you can find me working with one-on-one clients, such as the contract shop and Rebecca Rice Photography on their marketing strategy and copywriting, or how my students simplify their marketing and launches. And when I’m not, you can find me spending time outside with my husband, Russell reading in our hammock watching Gamecock Sports traveling or forcing our cats to snuggle me.
If you feel overwhelmed by marketing, you aren’t alone. Many entrepreneurs find marketing frustrating, overwhelming, and simply an obligation. They know they need it, but they don’t enjoy how easily it can suck up their time when what they really wanna be doing is the thing that they started their business to do.
Which is why I’m here to help make marketing simple and less time consuming so that you can spend less time on your marketing and more time growing your business and doing what you love. Each week, I’ll offer you transparent conversations, actionable steps, and judgment free community to encourage and equip you.
So grab yourself a cup of coffee or whatever your drink of choice is, and meet me here each week for love, support, practical tips and advice on uncomplicating, your marketing and business. Let’s do this entrepreneurship thing together, shall we? Really quickly, before we dive into this episode, I just have to share something that I’m really excited about with you.
My book, Chasing Simple Marketing, is launching this July. I wrote this book for the business owner that stumbled into entrepreneurship because they were following their passion, but without that Master’s
of Business Administration
or that background in business, well, they find marketing. Overwhelming and frustrating.
Throughout these pages, I’m going to take you on a simplicity focused journey to improve your content marketing, and you’ll walk away with an actionable plan to simplify your marketing so that you can fit your marketing into your business without it taking over your business. To learn more about how to grab your own copy and even potentially get on the launch team, head over to amanda warfield.com/book.
I’ll see you there, Sandra. I am so excited to have you here to talk about this today. But before we jump into all the great stuff in this episode, why don’t you just tell us a little bit about yourself and what it is that you do?
Yeah, of course. So my name is Sandra. Like Amanda just said, I am a wedding photographer based.
In London, Ontario, Canada, which I always say is the way less cool. London. Um, my whole area is the complete like direct ripoff of London in the uk. I have an hour drive to get over to Paris. Again, much less cool version of Paris. Um, but just to like paint a picture of whereabouts I am, it’s about halfway between Toronto and Detroit.
So it makes it nice and easy to like navigate where those big cities are. Um, like I mentioned, I’m a wedding photographer and I also am a business coach and podcast host. Um, my podcast is called Keeping It Candid, and both of those specialize in the wedding photography industry and how you can utilize systems to streamline the backend of your business.
Okay, and I have one more question
before we dive in. For everyone who’s listening, there’s a kitten that just popped up in the background. Um,
what’s their name and how are they? So well behaved because I had to lock pad may out on our sunroom for
this because I didn’t want
her to come scream at us. This is, so, this is smudge and uh, this is very rare behavior for her.
For the last two days, she has been driving me up the wall. She is like, when you see a video online of a cat that behaves really badly, that’s her. Um, but for some reason she is very content to just come in and sleep in here right now. So, hopefully, Fingers crossed that, uh, it stays that way and she doesn’t come and completely interrupt our interview.
That’s so cute. I love the name of Smudge, and she just popped right up and laid right down. She was so well behaved.
That’s amazing. I was like, wow. I
wish Padma could do that. Right. Kick her three times this morning. If I were to close my door, she’d be like digging at the carpet. There’s a whole section where like she’s torn right down to the floorboard.
So yeah, this is pretty rare behavior for her. Um, I, knock on wood, we’ll see what happens as we’re talking. Um, but it’s funny, I actually, um, I’m reading a book right now where the main character is a woman with a chronic illness and she just, Found a cat and she decided to name it smudge. And that’s like what I was reading this morning and I was like, do I need to get in touch with someone for stealing my likeness?
Like what is happening right now? That’s actually really incredible. Speaking of chronic
illness, that’s exactly what we’re gonna talk about today, and you are very open about
the fact that
you have a chronic illness. And, uh, for everyone listening, I, I talk about it some, but I also have endometriosis and.
It’s crazy what an effect it has on your day-to-day life. And when I first found out I had endometriosis, I was just like, okay, well that sucks. But the more I go about my life and the more I realize just how much it does affect my day-to-day, I’ve really had to come to terms with how I have to rearrange my schedule for mm-hmm.
This chronic illness. So could you tell us a little bit about what your chronic illness means for you on a day-to-day basis?
Yeah, absolutely. Pretty similar to what you were just saying. Um, I had actually, I have endometriosis as well as, Chronic migraines and a whole slew of other things that I’m still, we’re trying to find answers for.
If anybody is familiar with living chronic illness life, I’m sure that sounds very, very familiar to you. Um, but like you were saying, like I just, it got to a point where I had to really take a step back and rethink how I was gonna approach life going forward. Um, because endometriosis and many, many other chronic illnesses, they don’t just impact.
Small bits of your life. Like a lot of people think that endometriosis has to do with bad periods, which absolutely is a huge factor of it, but I’m not on my period 365 days a year, thankfully, yet. I still have to manage symptoms day in and day out. Some days are really great, some days are really awful, and sometimes they’re really unpredictable.
And so just trying to figure out, um, different ways to approach my schedule, how I’m spending my energy, the things that I’m giving my energy to, all of those things. Really kind of had to be shaken up and just approached in a totally different way. Um, and so if there’s any sort of silver lining to the pandemic and being, you know, not taking as many photos and, um, having the photography industry hit so hard is that, that was when I was going through, um, some of the worst times of dealing with chronic illness.
And so it gave me a lot more. Space to be able to navigate the changes in my life and how I was gonna do that or how I was gonna approach that going forward. So yeah, it’s weird to say that there was a small silver lining or take good takeaway from the last couple years, but that was it for me. I mean, I feel
like that’s a healthy mindset, right?
Not everything is all bad or all good, but for sure. So you mentioned that it’s really unpredictable your symptoms and that. It impacts so much of your life and what you’re doing on a typical day, how does that
affect your business? So like I was saying, I was able to take that time during the pandemic to just kind of like rethink where I wanted to spend my energy, what things were worth, the energy that I was giving them, and which they weren’t.
Um, and that. Gave me a little bit of a different mindset into how I was going to approach my schedule. Um, and so that was the biggest impact in kind of dealing with the unpredictability of everything is arranging my schedule in a way that respected my energy levels and not what everybody else needed from me.
And then also utilizing systems so that I could take. Less time from behind my computer and doing all those little things and put, put that energy elsewhere. Um, so doing things like if I have a wedding on a Saturday, Friday, I don’t have sessions, and Sunday I do absolutely nothing at all except watch Netflix.
Um, and if I am doing sessions, I try to limit myself to three sessions in a day. Or if I have one session a day, then I’m not gonna do more three day, more than three days in a row. And little things like that, I really just kind of had to learn by trial and error and just respecting my body and the messages that it was telling me.
And then just kind of setting those boundaries and making sure that I’m working within those going forward. And then utilizing systems, which I will mention a million times during this chat, um, is really like the key factor into. To making sure all of that can happen. I love
this so much. Okay, so diving into the boundaries first, how did you go about determining what your boundaries needed to be for yourself?
It was definitely, um, Not the easiest process, that’s for sure. Um, I think that regardless of your reason for implementing boundaries, it’s always going to be a little bit of a learning process, not just for you, but for the other people in your life as well, whether that be, you know, your partner and your family and your friends or your clients and people that you regularly work with.
Um, so it was definitely a little bit of a learning curve, both to figure out what I needed those boundaries to be and what I needed those limitations. To be and to get everybody else on board with supporting those boundaries as well. Um, so on the business side of things, like I was saying, like I limit how many days in a row I’m working or when I’m taking on specific sessions.
Um, I’m also really particular with only responding to my inbox within my office hours, um, using autoresponders so I can still, you know, get that quick email out without me having to get. Be at my computer, um, and little things like that. But it was just a lot of trial and error, like going into, um, it would’ve been June of 2020 when I was finally able to start taking photos again in my area because we had some, uh, pretty intense and long lasting, um, pandemic restrictions.
Um, so I went into that spring portrait season. Just looking to take on as many portraits as I could because I had been off work. I typically start taking photos in late April, early May, and all of my weddings were getting postponed and things like that, so I really needed these portraits and I went out, filled my calendar as much as I could, took on all the sessions that I could, and it was just hitting me.
So hard every single time to the point that like, I’d be sitting in my car after a session for a half an hour just looking to like, decompress and build up my energy enough to be able to safely drive myself home. Um, and little things like that that I really just kind of had to pay attention to the messages that my body was sending me to say, okay, like this was the moment that you pushed it too far.
So that has to be where you put that boundary in. And then the great thing about boundaries is that they can always be changed. So it was that I was taking on, you know, weddings on a Saturday and no sessions on a Sunday, but I would still have engagement sessions on Friday evenings and things like that.
Then it became, you know, that I found that I was not able to show up for that wedding on the Saturday. To the best of the ability that I wanted to because that Friday night session had taken some of my energy away. So then I had to make the decision that we were then taking Fridays and Sundays off around a wedding.
Um, and so yeah, just little things like that. It really, um, first and foremost has to do with just listening to the messages that your body is sending you and just working within your energy limitations. And then when it comes to getting everybody else on board with your boundaries, that’s definitely the harder part.
Um, unfortunately, we all have people in our lives who take advantage of our lack of boundaries. Um, there would be some people who totally respect your boundaries when you start setting them. There were. Be some people who do the opposite of that. Um, and that’s just kind of like an unfortunate thing that we have to deal with when we make changes in our lives.
But in the end, the people that support your boundaries and respect your boundaries and understand the reason why you have them are the people that are worth spending your energy on. And if they’re people who are thinking that your boundaries are an attack on them or whatever reason that they may come up with, maybe they’re not the most supportive person to have in your life.
And maybe you can take a little. Different perspective on how to approach that relationship. Um, because that has a lot to do with like where I’m spending my energy as well, just like arguments that I no longer have the time for and things like that. It all comes together in a very unique way when you’re dealing with chronic illness all the time.
absolutely. When it comes to, I’m curious, when it comes to setting boundaries and determining what those look like in your life, do you have set these are boundaries for all of time? Until you decide to change them, but like all month long, or do you have boundaries that are set in conjunction with cycle syncing, which for everyone listening, some of my favorite episodes of Sandra’s podcast are about cycle syncing, and I will link those in the show notes because it’s a fascinating topic and something that I am working on doing in my own life and business this year.
But I’m curious, are your boundaries. All months long boundaries, or do they depend on where you’re at in your cycle?
Yes. I love this question. Um, so it totally depends on where I’m at in my cycle. And if there’s one thing that I hope any menstruates that are listening to this podcast episode take away is to start tracking everything.
Even if you just have a regular cycle, if you’re not dealing with any other, um, chronic illnesses that go along with that, it’s. Still so beneficial. And then tenfold if you’re dealing with endometriosis or P C O S or anything that goes along those lines, that may, um, impact how your cycle impacts your body.
Um, so tracking everything, if you feel good, if you feel bad, if you’re not sleeping properly, um, where you’re at in your cycle. All of those things, I just throw them all onto my calendar. I actually have, like I use. Google calendar. And so you can make your own little like sub calendars within your account.
And I have one called Seasons and that’s where I log absolutely everything. Um, so if you’ve ever heard about seasons with your menstrual cycle before, it essentially lines up, the average cycle is about 28 to 30 days, which is the same, um, length of your average month. And each one of those weeks, um, if we’re talking about like a 28 day cycle, for example, it would be seven days per phase of your cycle.
And each one similarly lines up with the seasons that we feel throughout the year. Um, and so during times like your summer season, um, which is when you would be ovulating, You are more likely to have high energy, less brain fog, um, and have a lot of hormones coming through your body that are pushing you in a positive direction to be able to just like really embrace that creativity that you’re feeling.
Um, and so those times of the month are usually times that you’ll find me working longer hours. Um, I’ll get back onto my laptop after dinnertime, which is a pretty. Hard boundary for me, the majority of the month is I try to, um, shut my laptop down once dinner’s ready and not go back on, which I did for the first time last night after like a couple weeks of breaking that boundary.
And it was hard. I was sitting there and I was like, oh my God, I’m so bored. But yeah, so just kind of like paying attention to those little things and when you’re putting them on your calendar and tracking them regularly, after about three months, you’ll start to see patterns. Um, so if you have a 28 day cycle, for example, you may find that on day 14 that you are feeling a little bit, you know, laish, you’re feeling like you have pretty heavy brain fog.
Um, on average, day 14 ish is when most people will ovulate. Um, again, like factors. Depending on P C O S and endo and hormone levels and things like that will always come into play. Um, but on average about day 14 is when you’re gonna ovulate. And so the week following that is when you’re gonna feel all those great hormones that are gonna push you into having higher energy levels and things like that.
When it comes to your winter season, um, which is the week that you are menstruating, then you’re more likely to feel sluggish and you’re more likely to have a lot of brain fog. If you have endo or P c o S, you could be dealing with a lot of pain symptoms that go along with that. Um, so that week is a week that I really give myself permission to do a whole lot of nothing.
Um, I try to limit my tasks that are super important for the day to just like one or two things. I can usually just pop onto my computer and get them done within an hour. Though, and then I can take the rest of the day off. Um, for some people taking that all that time off may not be needed. If you have an average cycle and you’re not dealing with anything else, or you may be able to, you know, just take one day off or just have a few days of light tasks, other people may need to take a whole week off and just not do anything at all.
Um, but tracking how you’re feeling day in and day out for a few months is going to give you a great starting point on what to expect. Expect and find those patterns so that way you can kind of schedule around it as you’re going forward. Um, so making sure that you’re not putting any super, super important meetings on your calendar during your winter week.
Um, and yeah, little things like that just really help take some of that pressure and guilt off that a lot of us feel when we take the time off. Um, especially if it’s not planned time off.
Something that I found so interesting when I first started researching cycle syncing is that a man’s cycle is 24 hours, and so each day their cycle just repeats.
Whereas women or those who menstruate have a. 28 day cycle. And so it’s vastly different. And I started, when I realized that I started paying attention to my husband’s attitude throughout the day and every day at four 30, he was so cranky and I was like, you gotta eat something. He’s like, this is just that part of the day where like you need a boost in energy.
And it’s been very interesting to, to look at his cycle throughout each day and compare it to mine throughout the month. Although now his cycle is all kinds of jacked up from working shift work. But. Prior to that, it was very interesting to look at that and just to realize, oh, this whole like nine to five thing that.
We all wanna throw out the window, right? As entrepreneurs, we all at some level don’t wanna work a nine to five. It was created for men with these 24 hour cycles and it aligns best with theirs. And so I, that really gave me permission to go, I can do this my own way and I can set up my schedule in my own way.
And similar to how you use your Google calendar to, to write out like where you’re at in your cycle? I haven’t. I’ve written it out for the whole rest of the year, each week, right before the. Beginning of the first, like Sunday block of the week. I’ve got fall, winter, spring, summer, fall, and I’ve just got it written out so that I can plan my schedule, like you were just saying, around those weeks.
So I really try to, this week’s, technically spring batch week would’ve worked better for my summer week, but. Scheduling conflicts didn’t make that totally possible, but I was able to say, okay, well spring’s a close second at least. Mm-hmm. To that. I definitely don’t wanna do batch work during my winter week.
I’ll get nothing done. It’ll be awful. Right. Um, and so that way I’m making sure I’m scheduling though meetings and important things during my summer week and I’m not scheduling much at all during my winter week. And that’s been really helpful this year for essentially working in sprints. Mm-hmm. Which, Not only am I doing with my cycle and you know, just to work with my own body, but also with my husband’s schedule now that he’s working shift work, that’s, you know, trying to figure all of that out has been really interesting.
And I’m essentially working in these sprints of there two weeks outta the month where I’m working real hard and they’re two weeks where I’m not working a whole lot at all. And it just is what it is. And so that. I don’t know, just knowing that men’s schedules were so different, their cycles were so different.
That really gave me that permission to, I can do this my own way and I can listen to my body, and I don’t have to work 5, 6, 7, 8 hours every single day in order to be a real business
owner, quote unquote. Yeah, absolutely. I think we all have those like standards set in our brain somewhere locked away in our subconscious about like that.
We have to do these things in order to be a legit business owner. And if people D think that we aren’t doing those things, then they’re gonna look at us in a negative way. It’s so not true. Right. The majority of people don’t care. Like no. If somebody is not gonna hire me for their wedding because I work four days a week, then cool.
They’re not the right couple for me. There’s a million other couples out there and that’s totally fine. So just kind of like embracing that. Um, is a huge mindset shift that I think benefits all entrepreneurs across the board, no matter what industry you’re in. What you were saying about how, you know, the workday and everything was based off of the hormonal shift of men.
It’s so true. And like without going into like a huge feminist offset to like tirade here, um, the majority of our lives that we currently live as a society are built off of ways that. Are sustainable for men. Um, one thing that I learned very recently that was like mind blowing but also not mind blowing at the same time, was that women are more likely to die in a car accident, not because of anything that we do, but because vehicles are tested with crash test dummies that are built to the standard proportions of a male.
And so vehicles are not being tested on women’s bodies to find out how that impact of a crash is going to affect us. Um, and so like when you hear little. Things like that. It’s like, it’s not surprising, but it’s also so surprising and so infuriating. Um, and I think that there’s so many more things that we deal with on a daily basis that are built that way that we don’t even realize.
And so I think it’s so important for everybody, but especially for women, um, to just kind of like embrace that we don’t have to do things the same way that everybody else does. Isn’t that wild?
I, I learned that within the last few months too, and it just blows my mind. That they’re just not even creating crash dummies in the female form.
Right. Anyways. Crazy. Um, yeah, no, I think it’s so important and I think whether you have a chronic illness or not, moving towards cycle syncing can only benefit. I mean, it can only help your business. And to what you were saying about, you know, if someone doesn’t wanna work with me because I work for four days a week, how are they gonna know also, as long as you’re getting your stuff done?
And that’s what it comes down to. Is that, that sustainability that you mentioned of mm-hmm. Understanding what is truly sustainable for you in a month. Honestly, all that can do is benefit your mental health because you’re not overwhelming your plate with too many things, and also because you’re giving your body what it needs at any given time during the month.
So could you run through real quick, and you don’t have to go into details, but just a real quick spring, summer. Fall, winter, why can’t I remember season, spring, summer, fall, winter, and maybe like one or two things that you could gear your business towards those weeks.
Yeah, of course. I’ll just give direct examples of the things that I do in my business.
So the start of your winter week is day one of your period, and that is essentially day one of your cycle and it goes on from there. So during my winter week, I do, I spend a lot of time in Canva during my winter week. Um, it’s just something that I can do. To make myself feel productive, which helps for me anyway, deal with that guilt that comes along with taking this time off.
And it’s something that I can do very low energy. It’s something that I really enjoy doing. It gives me a creative outlet that helps me keep my mind off how I’m feeling, um, as, which is really beneficial on those really bad days. Um, and so yeah, I spend a lot of time in Canva when it’s my winter week, just.
Things that are easy to do. Um, when I talk to people both with chronic illnesses, when I talk to parents, anyone who has something that regularly pulls them away from their business, that guilt factor is something that everybody is dealing with. And so I find that just giving yourself something small that you can do that just makes you feel better, makes you feel less guilty, is just, it shifts something in your brain to just make that whole week a lot easier and make you come out of it in a much better mindset than if you have been.
Dealing with that guilt the whole time. I have no idea where this quote came from, and I’m totally paraphrasing, but someone in the land of the internet has said something about how, um, when you are taking time off to rest, but your mind is constantly going over all the things that you should be doing or that you’re not doing, you’re not actually resting.
Um, so that has been a way that I’ve kind of been able to deal with that, is just give myself one little thing that I can just work on mindlessly and it doesn’t matter if it gets done or not. I’ll design, um, graphics to put up on Instagram or I will, um, you know, work on some photos for a blog post.
Little things like that that are very, very low energy. I try
to do, I save up any of these tasks that come up throughout the month if they don’t have a deadline of like, here’s something I can do. That I don’t need to put real clothes on for. I can sit on my heating pad on the couch and do, I don’t necessarily need both of my screens that don’t take any kind of mental energy, like there’s no strategy involved in it.
So basically nothing client facing. Right?
Nothing client facing, nothing. I mean, I’m really not working on, if I’m doing marketing, it’s. The like, okay, what, what graphics do I need? Or something like that. Really no marketing, no strategy. For example, I’ve got, I really have to, as I’m recording this, it’s March.
I really need to figure out what the tagline of my book is, but that’s something that there’s no way I could do during a winter week because it’s so strategic and it would use so much mental energy. Mm-hmm. But can I design a funnel that I’ve already, like can I copy and paste the funnel and set it up for my next speaking engagement?
Absolutely. Cuz that takes no mental energy. It’s just, Busy at work, essentially, and so I save all of those tasks for that winter week during the month, so it’s, I can still check things off and feel like I’ve accomplished something and I’m still doing things for my business, but I don’t have to, I don’t have to get off the couch.
I don’t need two screens. I don’t need
any of this
extra stuff. I can just check a few things off, feel like I’ve gotten something done, and then give my mind that ability to truly rest, like you
were saying. Mm-hmm. Yeah, absolutely. That mindset, almost like a mindset hack to be, for lack of a better word, is a huge game changer in just like getting the rest that you need during that week.
Then going into the spring week, you’ll feel that your energy is coming up a lot from there. Any, whether you are dealing with endometriosis or just having regular periods, you know that like by the time that’s over, you’re just. So glad that it’s done. You’re feeling better, cramps have gone, fatigue is going away.
Um, and all those other things that we have to deal with. All of that is clearing up. And so it’s kind of like, you know, the snow has melted, the flowers have bloomed. It’s time to just get back into the world and start living your life again. Um, so that’s when I will essentially to a certain extent, play a bit of ketchup.
One thing that I am working on myself this year is giving my. Self permission to not play catch up, um, in the sense of like, not feeling like I have to make up for lost time. So if I take one day, if I take a Monday off, not going in Tuesday, feeling like I have to do two days of work, um, that’s something that I’m working on this year.
But you do that, like refreshed mindset does have a way of like whether or not you feel like you’re. Catching up. You’re just, you have that energy to just get back into doing the things that you love. And so I’ll get back into my inbox and rather than taking, you know, the full two business days that they know to expect because I have an autoresponder, I’ll get back within one business day and just like start doing things a little bit more, um, on a faster scale.
And that’s when I’ll start working on more client facing things again.
Um, I found that this is also a great time. For strategy because you’re mm-hmm. You’re thinking so creatively, like you were saying, the the new energy really brings in that space for creativity, and this is a great time if you are trying to figure out how a funnel’s gonna work in your business or how you want to lead people to a certain thing.
This is a great time to play around with the strategy of different things within your business as
well. Yeah, absolutely. And even reevaluating those boundaries that you’ve set and things like that because you know, what you were just dealing with over the last week is still fresh in your mind. Um, so if you notice that like, you know, you had done something a little bit, you pushed a little bit too far at a certain time, um, getting that clarity and like that strategy mindset is a great time to just kind of like make those adjustments if you need to.
Yeah, then going into summer, so for me, and I know a lot of people with endometriosis and P C O S are gonna relate to this a little bit, um, but the beginning of summer for me is kind of like half winter, half summer. Um, so when I ovulate it, it is. Pretty similar to when I have my period and that I need to take a few days off and my body is just like, Nope, we are, we are not doing this today.
Um, and so, but thankfully it only lasts about half the week, knock on wood, on a good week. It lasts about half the week, and then I get the rest of my summer week to really embrace that like high energy level and getting shit done during that time. Um, that’s when you’ll find me at my laptop at all hours of the night.
It’s a time when you just feel like the best business owner in the world, like you’re just getting everything done, your posts are going up, your blogs are like amazing. You’re just loving everything that you’re doing. That’s what to expect from the summer week. Summer week is a great week. Thank you. I’m also a huge fan of Summer in Nature, so
Oh yeah. That’s my favorite give, like I just want a lizard all the time. Give me the right, the heat, the sun, the humidity. I love it.
I’m counting down until I go to Florida at the end of the month and like the lizard version of me is just waiting to come out. I’m so excited for you for that. It’s gonna be so good.
It’s really cold. Well, I’m not in Florida, obviously, but it’s cold here in South Carolina again, and I’m really upset because we had a string of 80 degree days. Oh. For like two or three weeks. And I was like, oh, spring is here, winter’s over and now it’s like low fifties again and rainy and I hate life.
You got caught in the false winter or fall. Spring like we did. I did it. I’m watching it snow outside my window again right now. It’s terrible. It’s. I’ve also
found that I’m so much more social during my summer week. Yeah. Like I’ll find, typically if I have a meeting in the evening, like if I have to go to the church for a meeting or something like that, I am.
Dragging my feet to get there most weeks, but during the summer week, I’m like, yeah, I’ve got energy for this. This is great. Or I’ll find myself spending a whole lot of my day on Voxer mm-hmm. With my friend Hailey. And just like, I, we’re just constantly talking and I, it’s me because I’m being obnoxious and let’s be friends.
Let’s chat because I have all kinds of energy and wanna be social, and I’m such an introvert that that is rare for me, but I, yeah. Very consistently. Every month during my summer week, it’s like, oh, I wanna talk to all the people and I’m gonna send voice messages in dms and I’m gonna do this. And then fall comes and I’m like, don’t talk to me anymore.
Oh, I can totally relate to that. That’s probably how our relationship first started on Instagram too. Cause we were sending a lot of voice messages to each other. Yeah, we probably both in our summer weeks and then we’re like, okay, this is fun. I like you. I
don’t, I’m overwhelmed
by dms now. Yeah, exactly. I totally go through those phases too.
Um, and it’s a great week like you were saying to like, have those client meetings. It’s a great week to go to networking meetings and push yourself a little bit outside of your comfort zone that way. Um, and really, yeah, taking advantage of those social energies because you’re right, they do go and. Your hormones.
It’s crazy. Like we don’t realize how, how many different hormones we have and how they each differently impact our energy levels and our mindset and things like that. Um, so when all of those hormones come up from ovulation, it’s like, it just does really great things to your mind and your body for sure.
Then it leads you into your fall week. Um, fall week for a lot of people comes with. Bad sleeping with heightened anxiety. Um, almost, I always say it’s a terrible analogy, but I, for me anyway, sometimes it feels like my body’s preparing for war. Um, because it knows what it’s about to go through the following week as your hormone levels start to come down and things like that.
Um, so I come into that fall week feeling pretty energized. Um, still feeding off of some of those hormones from my summer week. But as the week goes on, um, I find that I wake up a lot more frequently during the night or I’ll wake up a lot earlier in the morning, just not feeling like I’m getting that quality sleep that I really want.
And sleeping is one of my favorite things, so that’s never my favorite week is when sleep escapes me. And so for me, I, like you were saying, like I start to get drained from all of those interactions that I had in the summer week. And so I just kind of have to pull back a little bit, uh, maybe take a little bit of time out of my dms and things like that and just kind of prepare my body and my mind.
Um, For going into that winter week, wrapping up any important conversations that I’m having with clients and things like that. Um, and just making sure that, yeah, I can give my body that respect as we go into yet another winter, because I wouldn’t want to do this every 24 hours like a man has to. But having to do it every 28 days is also exhausting.
It’s, it could stretch out a little bit longer.
Yeah. Fall for me is definitely, what do I have in my open loops task? Like what? What do I need to wrap up? Mm-hmm. Because I know I’m not getting to it next week, and that is pretty much all I do. I’m not really being social that week. I’m very much just like, okay, what am I wrapping up and finishing and checking off of my to-do list so I can move it off my plate so that I’m not stressed about it next week.
Yeah, exactly. It takes a lot of self-awareness to be a business owner in general, but when you’re adding in chronic illness on top of that, your SI self-awareness almost has to be heightened because you need to be aware of not just what you’re currently feeling in that moment and what you have energy for that day, but you have to have a lot of forethought for what is coming in the future, in the coming days and coming weeks.
Um, and I think that. That’s why tracking becomes so, so important. Because if you don’t ha, I mean, for me anyway, if I don’t have that visual representation, I can’t remember month to month to month what I. Happened one day versus the next. Um, so there are times that I’m like, I feel awful today, and I was not expecting this.
What is going on? I open up my calendar and then I can see, oh, I felt like hell on this day, every month for the last four months. So then I, going forward, well just like. Black off that date. We are no longer working on this date. Um, one fun thing that happened to me earlier this year, I think it was like roughly around the holidays in beginning of January, um, for any Hunger Games fans out there is like, someone like spun my clock.
Like I figured out what that pattern was and then my body was like, oh no, we don’t want you to know what is happening. And just gave it a little spin. And so now I’ve had to spend the last few months just trying to like re, I mean I still track everything, but just kind of like figure out, so there’s.
Random blocked off dates everywhere where it’s like, you know, I felt awful on this day in December and in February, but not in January and March, and like little things like that. But just tracking it gives me some sort of, Kind of like starting point and gives me some sort of control. And that’s I think, really important as well when you’re dealing with the unpredictability of chronic illness life and being an entrepreneur is just finding ways that you can bring that control back into your life in scenarios that are relatively out of your control, I think is super important.
So important. Okay, so
boundaries. Talked about that. We’ve talked about cycle syncing. You also mentioned that systems are really, really helpful for you in dealing with this chronic illness and you know, seeking your cycle throughout the month because there are some weeks where you’re not working as much.
So what are some systems that you’ve found that are you just top tier? We should really start thinking about A S A P.
Okay, so number one is autoresponders. I really think that. Auto, auto responders up to a certain point left such a bad taste in our mouth because we would get them and they were just like super boring corporate style to let you know that person wasn’t at their computer and would get back to you later.
There’s so much more that we can do with autoresponders now, especially if you’re using CRM systems, um, where you can just make it a whole part of the client experience without you having to be at your computer. So I have a general, um, autoresponder in my email inbox that just lets people know what day of the week I’m typically in my office, how long it takes me to reply, so that way I’m not getting the same person emailing me every six hours wondering why I haven’t responded yet.
I mean, there’s the exception of there are still people who do it, but. It’s, it’s happens a lot less now. Doesn’t matter how good your boundaries are, there’s always going to be someone who pushes against ’em. So that’s just kind of like a little, little thing to remember there. Um, but yeah, so I have that autoresponder that lets people know, ex when to expect to hear back from me.
And also I have added information in there that if you have a session coming up this weekend, I sent you a different email already that tells you how to get ahold of me around your session. So go and check that email and that will give you the information that you need. And then let them know if it’s something that you really need me for, then just send the email again with urgent in the subject line.
And that way I know cuz I will pop in and out of my inbox. Um, anybody who is like a chronic scroller like I am, sometimes I like tap through all of my apps in the same order, even though I don’t need to check them. So at some point, Even though I have no intentions of responding to any emails over the weekend, I’m gonna end up in my inbox over the weekend.
Um, and so if I see something that says urgent, then I know it’s something that, um, I should dedicate some time to. Um, unless they’ve sent me an email that says urgent in the subject line. And then the first line of the email is, this isn’t actually urgent A happened to me a few weeks ago ago. That’s so unnecessary.
Right. Um, so that, that’s what I have set in for like my just general email inbox. But in my C R M system, I built out questionnaires for wedding and family clients. And so that goes out to them right after they fill out my contact form. They’re getting a personalized email from me, and then a questionnaire that collects information, like if we’re talking about weddings, it is gonna ask them to confirm what their wedding date is, where their venue is, what their budget.
Is for wedding photography, what kind of moments of the day are super important to them so I can get an idea of how many hours they’re gonna need and things like that. All of this is personalized using like fields that auto-populate their name and things like that, and so they’re getting this email from me and they’re getting this questionnaire from me and they have no idea that I wasn’t the one who sent it myself, that it didn’t like that it auto sent, that it was an autoresponder, and that I am off just like enjoying life, watching Netflix and snuggling with my cat.
And that is something that I think a lot of people aren’t embracing when it comes to utilizing autoresponders is that it’s just such a great way to, um, autoresponders and automations in general is a great way to still be able to serve your clients while you are giving your body the time and respect that it needs as well.
Um, so that would be like my number one recommendation, whether you are just looking to like, revamp your systems or get started in systems and you need a little bit of freedom back in your life is. Set up some autoresponders and
love, I use HoneyBook. I don’t know. Who do you use for your c I use HoneyBook as well.
I love using HoneyBook as much as possible. I use it for my clients, but I also use it. You may have noticed this, I used it to set up my guest interviews for the podcast. Mm-hmm. Because this is a mass, like this is the biggest batch week of my entire year. I am doing 15 interviews this week. It’s crazy.
It’s. Hour after hour, after hour after hour, every single day. My days are slammed and there are so many emails that have to go out. Mm-hmm. There’s so many moving pieces to doing an interview, and I just set it all up in HoneyBook one time, and I just go through and check off everything to make sure that it’s happening and that it’s moving through on an automated schedule.
And HoneyBook does all most of the work for me. I send people, here’s the link to fill out your form. They fill out their form, then they get an email that says, this is great. Thanks. Uh, here, schedule your email. They have my scheduling link inside that email. They schedule their interview. They get another email saying, okay, great.
You’re confirmed. I’ll send you more information. A week out, a week before the interview, they get an email that I go in and I say, okay, here’s the general outline. The whole template is in there. And I just go in and say, we’re gonna talk about this topic and this is gonna be the action steps that we wanna go through, and here’s what you’re gonna, here’s some other things we’ll share.
And I send that to them. And that has the link in there. It’s got everything. And then, Everyone’s on the same page. Mm-hmm. And I spend probably 30 minutes max preparing for each interview and coordinating for each interview because it’s all, I set it up once in HoneyBook and I essentially can set it and almost forget it.
Yeah. Because it’s all in there. And so that’s a system that I’ve set up within my business. Batching is also a system, right? There’s so many. Anything that you’re doing more than once in your business, responding to emails, doing interviews, do whatever, set up templates within Trello or Asana or whatever, and create systems for yourself.
And you don’t have to have them all set out right away. I’m constantly tweaking mine. Every time I redo a system, I realize, oh, it works better if I do it this way and this, it works even better. And over time you build out these templates where you can say, okay, well copy, paste, run through the checklist.
I’m done. I don’t have to think about it. And it makes it so much easier to get things done more efficiently and sustainably while also not having to rely on making sure you have energy when
you may not. Yeah. That’s so, so true. Um, I love that your podcast is called Chasing Simple, because I think like just simplifying everything in life is so important, but especially in business, and I think a lot of people get hung up when it comes to implementing systems, especially using something like HoneyBook.
Because they’re worried about having things fully automated. But the great thing about HoneyBook and so many other CRM systems is that they allow you to have semi-automated systems. And I, from what you were just describing, it sounds like that’s what you use and that’s what I use as well. Um, and it’s just getting everything set up in a list, essentially a task list, including those templates in with it.
So instead of an email taking five minutes or 10 minutes, For you to send, you’re not writing the whole thing out. You’re not even co copying and pasting it from a different area into an like your email. The email is already there and so something that could have taken you five or 10 minutes is now taking you 30 seconds just to go in and implement those like personal details and things like that.
And then clicking send and just simplifying that process so that, like you said, instead of taking, you know, five, six hours to prep for an interview and getting all those details out, you’re able to do it in 30 minutes and you’re able to batch work for. Interviews, 15 interviews in one day, as opposed to, you know, spreading them out over 15 days because it’s so hard to just juggle all of those pieces.
And I think that any photographers that are listening to this or anybody who does work with a lot of clients all at one time, can really relate to that because there’s so many. Pieces, like moving pieces to the puzzle with every client that you work with, all the prep emails that need to go out, um, all the follow up emails and things like that.
Actually, you know, delivering your service. There are so many things that it’s totally sustainable when you’re first starting out and you’re working with two, three clients, but when you’ve got 30, 40 clients on the go, It’s so easy for those little things to fall through the cracks. And for me, in my business, that’s where my, um, client experience really started to suffer back in 2018.
Um, I had, I think it was in 2017, I had 27 weddings plus all of the engagement sessions and all the family sessions and everything that I was booking. I, that was probably the busiest I’ve ever been in business. And I remember thinking like I had made it like this was. So awesome. I was fully booked out months ahead, but what ended up happening is that I overbooked my calendar and I didn’t have any systems in place.
And so, so many things started falling through the cracks that I wasn’t delivering a great client experience to anybody. There were some clients that happened to get me at a good point, um, and they got a great experience, other clients that I was constantly having to put out fires and constantly having to apologize all while.
Navigating my own health issues that I hadn’t really, I had never a, at that point I had never even heard of the word endometriosis. Um, I had chronic migraines, but I had all of these other things that I had no idea about. I had no idea how my period and my menstrual cycle were actually impacting the ability, my ability to work and things like that.
And so things started to crumble. I stopped getting referrals to, like, my clients were not referring me to their friends and family. All of my galleries in 2018 and 2019 were delivered late. Um, and like I had a bride in my living room on New Year’s Eve left her husband and her kids in the car because we were just waiting for her files to transfer onto a US B, um, which I don’t do US USBs anymore.
If you do a USB photographers, get rid of those. Save yourself the time and energy. Um, But yeah, just like little things like that really started to build up and got to a point where in 2019 it was actually like right around this time, my husband had to call me from work because I was sobbing on the couch telling him that I needed to shut down my business because I couldn’t keep doing this.
I wasn’t like, it was, I wasn’t happy, my clients weren’t happy, and it was kind of like, what am I doing this for? Thankfully he talked me down from my ledge and I shifted my perspective into like, I can’t do this anymore, to how do I fix this? And that’s when I really started to embrace systems and just even just like making a checklist of all the things that you have to do for every client to get started so that you’re not having to use that mental energy to remember all of the things, um, is a great place to get started.
And that like implementing systems, hands down, single handedly saved my business. So great, and it’s such a, such an
important part of business that we easily brush off and we think, oh, I’ll get to it later, but you don’t have to start big. You can start with just one step at a time, which, speaking of steps and one step at a time, if you could give the listeners just one action step for today’s episode, what would it be?
Um, one, I’m actually gonna give two if that’s okay. So first, if you are a menstruate, I want you to start tracking everything today. Like when you go to bed tonight, just open up your phone, whether you wanna put it on your calendar or just like create a note on your phone and just write down how you felt today.
If you felt like your energy was really low or if you had a lot of brain fog, like you just felt like, you know, your creativity was lacking or things that normally make sense to you. You were really kind of struggling to grasp all those things. Are coming from brain fog. There’s a million things that can cause brain fog.
Just noting all those things down. And then, um, just put, like, have it repeat on your calendar so that the same day next month it’s gonna pop up. Start seeing if you can find any patterns. And then for menstruate and non menstruate alike, my other, um, tip that I would love everyone to take away is to start embracing autoresponders.
Especially with the state of a lot of businesses right now that are getting hit because of the cost of living and inflation and things like that. Um, I know for photographers, a lot of us are going through this because photography is considered a luxury, a luxury expense. It’s important to make sure that.
You aren’t doing anything in your systems that could be hindering those bookings for you because you already have so many things stacked against you. Like, you know, the cost of groceries and things like that are always gonna take priority. And so I think it’s important for business owners to just make sure that there’s nothing on their end that is within their control that could be causing problems.
Um, and so we all know that, you know, in 2023, our customers want things quickly. Um, that’s. But you know, our whole society is built on getting things pretty instantly. And so being able to utilize autoresponders is a great way to make sure that you are the first person who is responding to that inquiry without actually having to be at your computer.
Um, I think it was actually Natalie from HoneyBook and posted on her Instagram just this last week, um, about how, I think it was like 86% of people will book or hire someone who is the first to respond. That’s the only factor. And so, um, like I tell people all the time, and they look at me like I have eight heads when I say that I am typically one to two days to one to two business days to reply to an email.
But if someone’s inquiring, they’re getting an email from me within an hour and other different, um, Phases during the relationship I have with my clients who have hired me, they’re getting informational emails and things like that that are going out to them that I just am not at my computer to do. And so they’re still getting that experience without me having to be there.
And so, yeah, I would really love to see people in embracing autoresponders and things like that. Okay, great. So
you’re gonna start tracking everything’s related and you’re going to start embracing autoresponders. Yes. If you could give everyone one book recommendation, what would it be? Um, so
my book recommendation is one called The Night Circus.
Um, I randomly stumbled across this book in a bank, which is like such a strange place to, um, Stumble across the book. Um, but everything about this book just like totally caught me off guard. So I was at a bank doing some banking and they had a table in the bank that was filled with used books that they were selling for charity.
And I finished what I had to do. I had to wait for my husband. So I was just browsing through these books and I saw this book. The Night Circus, the cover caught my eye. I flipped it open. It was a fantasy book, which is not normally my jam. So I was like, this sounds really interesting. Judge the book by its cover.
I was like, not my jam. I’m not really a fantasy person. I put it down and then we left and we went and had lunch. And the whole time we were eating lunch, I could not stop thinking about this book. There was just something about the way the description was written. So, um, we didn’t have a car at the time.
I had like a 10 minute window before our bus was coming. So I ran back to the bank and I bought this book for $2 and then I ran and I just made it to catch the bus. And when I tell you I could not put this book down, I’ve read it so fast, I’ve recommended it to a million people. It is the most beautifully written book I’ve ever read.
The descriptive words that they use make you feel like you can smell the smells and you can hear the sounds, and it’s just, it’s mind blowing how well. The descriptions are written. My husband’s always saying they need to turn it into a movie, and I’m like, no, they’ll ruin it. They’ll never be able to do on film.
What I did in my brain as I was reading it, the book is about, um, some magicians who like, not magicians and like. You know, it can make a bird come out of a hat kind of thing. But like, they’re like, almost like wizards to an extent. And they have a competition, um, with one another where they train, um, they each pick a person and train them from childhood into adulthood.
Um, teaching them all their magic ways and then sending these people to compete with one another. So it’s, it’s a super, super interesting book. Um, I’m a sucker for a love story, so there is a love story built into it as well. Um, but it was the kind of book that when I was done it, It was not even just that the book itself had a great story and was written really well, um, but it was.
So outside of what I normally read, that it was like really eye-opening perspective for me in that sense as well. And just like taking a chance on something that’s not really, you know, what you normally, um, normally align with or normally or what are you aren’t normally drawn to. Um, so yeah, that’s a really, a really long-winded answer, but I absolutely love the night circus, so that’s what my answer is.
great. I, I have not read that, so I’ll have to check that out and we will add the link to that, to the show notes. Friends.
Okay. Sandra, exactly.
Everyone is enamored by you and they wanna know more about what you do and how you can help photographers.
Where can they find you? Yeah, of course. So you can find me on Instagram at simply Sandra, Yvonne.
Um, and that’s my TikTok handle as well. You can find me over there and then you can also find me on the Keeping It Candid Podcast. So the full title is Keeping It Candid Wedding Photography Unfiltered. Um, and you’ll hear an interview with Amanda on there. Um, we talk about all things wedding photography, um, and how it relates to systems and things like
All right. Thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate it, and I know that this, this interview is going to be very eye-opening for a lot of people as far as how they create their schedules.
Oh, I hope so. Well, thank you so much for having me. This is awesome.
Thank you so much for joining me here today, friend. You can find this episode show notes as well as all of the resources you need to simplify your marketing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you liked what you heard here today, be sure to subscribe to the podcast so that you never miss an episode. And if you could take a moment to leave a rating and review, it would truly mean the world to me.
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