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Today’s How She Actually Does It guest, Cat Ekkelboom-White is an adventure wedding and elopement photographer who is an expert on focusing her attention in order to complete her work and successfully run her business. Read on to learn how Cat balances the short-term and long-term, how she balances work and family time, and how she beats procrastination.
How often and when do you set goals for yourself?
I work well with shorter-term goals. Last year I tried with 90-day goals and that worked really well for me. A shorter 90-day timeframe lets me break down up to 5 goals and create a timeline and action plan for each one. On a day to day basis, I set myself one main task for the day, blocked in my calendar as a time block, and if that one thing gets completed then I’m happy.
Since it’s the new year, I’ll also do some vision boarding and journaling to try to identify where I want to be in 1 year, and also to try and look further ahead – long-term planning actually something I struggle with as I’m usually so focused on the day-to-day. But I know it’s good to know where I want things to be going over the next 5 years. My coach often encourages me to look ahead at the big picture 5 years into the future to make sure I’m not procrastinating, giving myself smaller goals to self-sabotage and distract me from working towards a bigger, scarier goal.
Talk me through your weekly planning process
I like to start the week by making a list of the things that I know I MUST do and time blocking them in my calendar. Then I write down things I’d like to do if I have the time, and I tend to fit those in when I’ve done the top priority items. For me, client work always goes to the top of my list, even if it’s not urgent, because I always want my couples to get their photos as quickly as possible.
I like to start the week by making a list of the things that I know I MUST do and time blocking them in my calendar.
What tools do you find indispensable for staying organized?
Switching to a CRM has been a huge game-changer for me. I currently use one called Dubsado, and it allows me to keep all my clients’ data in a secure place, have templates for contracts and invoices, and have workflows set up so that I know what work needs to be done for clients at any one time.
Also having tools to batch and schedule as much as possible, especially with social media, has helped me a lot in cutting down the time I spend on these platforms.
Finally, having a Google Calendar where I can schedule everything.
How do you structure your workdays?
Working from home, my workdays don’t always have as much structure as I’d like. I’ve designated Monday-Thursday as my office days, and Friday-Sunday as my family time. On my working days, I get up with my husband, have breakfast and read a business book for around 30 mins, then I aim to be at my desk by 8am. I take a short break for lunch, then usually stop working when my husband comes home around 6pm. Weekends are as work-free as possible, but often I can’t resist checking my emails or social media if I have a quiet half-hour.
What do you do when you feel stuck or overwhelmed?
I often feel overwhelmed when I start putting the pressure on myself for all the things I tell myself I “should” be doing. When this happens, I get out a notebook and I write down all the things I think I need to do, then I make myself rank them in order of importance, the top priorities being client work on a deadline and actions that will help grow my business. I also try to ask myself if any of these tasks can be outsourced to take the pressure off me. If I’m really struggling, I reach out to my business coach or a mastermind group I’m in on Facebook. Sometimes I just need someone objective to help me get my priorities back in order.
I often feel overwhelmed when I start putting the pressure on myself for all the things I tell myself I “should” be doing.
What is your favorite productivity book or who is your favorite productivity teacher?
My business coach Laura Payne-Stanley is a productivity ninja and she’s taught me a lot. She helped me identify that when I don’t clearly define and set my goals, often my productivity decreases because I lose my driving motivation.
How has your approach to productivity changed over time?
I’m learning to accept, as the saying goes, “you can do anything, but not everything”. I’ve learned that I cannot multitask, and as much as I’d like to think I can, I can’t do everything myself. When I start procrastinating, I know I need to sit down and get clear on my goals again.
I’m learning to accept, as the saying goes, “you can do anything, but not everything”.
Bonus Questions! What is your favorite kind of pen to write with?
It’s usually some kind of free biro I’ve picked up. Every now and then I get one that is really nice to write with, lol.
More about Cat!
Cat Ekkelboom-White is the creator of Wild Connections Photography, an adventure wedding & elopement photographer based in the Austrian Alps, capturing the stories of couples across Europe. She helps to empower adventure-loving couples to have a wedding day that reflects them as a couple rather than following societal expectations and traditions that they don’t believe in.