My Favorite Tools for Staying Productive
As a business owner productivity is the name of the game. And when you're a one woman show, any tool that helps save time and increases productivity is A plus in my book! Over the years (even within the last few months!) I've discovered various tools that have allowed me to stay productive, on task and efficient within my business. I am a total geek for this type of stuff, I love anything and everything that encourages efficiency, organization and productivity. Because at the end of the day that means I get to make my clients very happy while spending lots of time with my baby boy! So you'll have to excuse as I nerd out for a minute and get all to excited about card readers, mile apps and software!
While these tools are not specific to just photographers, they are VERY useful to those of us who find ourselves dealing with hundreds upon thousands of images every day. Each one of these tools has dramatically effected my workflow (for the better) and allowed me to maximize my time and resources (I explain how each tool does that specifically below). I hope this post provides some useful information for you and perhaps helps you discover a new tool to add to your workflow wheel house. If you have any questions about how I use each item in my workflow, feel free to ask in the comment section below! For now onto productivity!!
I've been using a system of Lexar card readers since the inception of my business. I have no idea why I chose Lexar other than the fact that I saw other professionals using this brand too. Over the years their systems of card readers has changed, most recently with the Lexar Professional Workflow. Now, instead of having a myriad of card readers strewn across my desk, they are neatly tucked inside a housing unit, making my desk tidy and my workstation efficient and safe. No longer am I dealing with different cords taking up valuable real estate in the form of my computer's USB slots. Four readers only require one USB plug, how great is that?! And now with two systems, I can come home from a wedding and download all my images within the course of an hour. This is something that used to take me upwards of 2-3 hours to complete, having to download cards one or two at a time. You can imagine my excitement, knowing that I can now get to be earlier on a wedding night thanks to this system!! As someone who downloads all the images following a wedding (yes, that same NIGHT), the Lexar Professional Workflow system is a HUGE time saver and makes me, well, oh so happy!2. Photo Mechanic
I first discovered Photo Mechanic when I worked as a news photographer a lifetime ago. As news photographers we would be shooting hundreds of images everyday, typically against tight deadlines. We needed a quick and efficient way to view our images, select the best and edit them in a timely manner. There were many things that I took away from my experience as a news photographer and Photo Mechanic was one of them. I knew that this was going to be the best tool for me to quickly view and select my images. Photo Mechanic makes that process of selecting images amazingly fast. When culling images from a wedding there are typically thousands of images to go through (yes thousands). Without Photo Mechanic this job could easily take me hours upon hours to complete. With the speed and functionality of Photo Mechanic I can select the best and cull for my client within an hour. If you're a photographer and you have yet to take advantage of all that Photo Mechanic can do, make it your end of the year goal to become a Photo Mechanic fan. It will revolutionize your workflow and save you HOURS in your editing!3. Mile IQ
The Magic Mile App, or at least that is what I think it should be called:) Mile IQ is an app that I discovered earlier this year that tracks all of your mileage, any time you get into your car, right on your phone!. How it works? I have no idea, but what I do know is that it is amazing. No longer do I need to mess with the odometer, make guesses as to how far I drove or spend tedious amounts of time trying to track distances. Mile IQ does this all, without me even having to open the app! If you're a small business owner and you need to keep track of your mileage, this app is a HUGE help and comes highly recommended from me! I'm horrible at keeping track of mileage and would often forget, which means when it came time for figuring out my taxes, I was missing out! I love this magic mille app, a game changer for my business this year.
Another exciting discovery this year was the recommendation of CrashPlanPro. Fellow photographer and data guru Joe Ciarcia hosted a PUG meeting several month ago, all about data management. He suggested using CrashPlanPro as part of our backup and data management systems. Before Crash Plan, I had three steps in my backup plan, but still wasn't 100% satisfied with my workflow. Enter CrashPlan. CrashPlan is a desktop app that you simply download onto your computer and then you let it do the rest. Without evening having to open the program, it automatically and continually backs up your computer while it is turned on. I love that! What peace of mind this program gives! I know that if anything where ever to happen to my computer or it's data, all of that information is safely backed up in the Cloud via CrashPlan. It's not my only system for backing up, but it's a huge piece of that puzzle. Case in point, earlier this year I thought I had deleted a precious image of Jonathan from when he was a newborn. As a Mom this image was incredibly special to me and I was devestated. But I remembered that I had installed CrashPlan and maybe by chance it had saved it. Wouldn't you know, a quick search through my backups and there the image was!! I was elated!! This system is easy to use, affordable, and a necessity to anyone who needs to keep track and backup date! Love this program!5. ShootQ
Ah yes, ShootQ, many of you probably know about ShootQ by now, especially if your a photographer. It's a hugely popular management program that helps small business owners track, organize and manage their client data. And while it's not a new program per say I did feel that it needed to be included in this list of tools that help keep me productive. I don't know what I would do without ShootQ. It keeps track of my clients, their information, my workflows, contracts, questionnaires and more. I use it almost daily, as way to keep me up to date on client workflows. When dealing with multiple clients over the course of a year, being able to keep all the info organized and on task is crucial. All of this important information is accessible with the click of a button and helps me stay organized. While some complain that it is not intuitive (it does take a while to set up), having tried other management programs, I have found ShootQ to be the most powerful, most professional and best organized. For me it works, it saves me time and it keeps me on task. As a small business owner I couldn't ask for much more!I'd like to point out that none of these programs or apps have paid me or encouraged me to share any of this. Simply put, these are programs that I use and LOVE and feel compelled to share with YOU in hopes that you'll find them helpful with your own productivity. As a photographer I know that I am constantly on the look out for new tools to add to my workflow, so if you have a program, system or app that you just can't live without, please share! And if you have found this info to be helpful, please share with others! Let's spread the love (and the productivity!!) Enjoy!!