Art Model, Chloe Ann, © 2017 Terrell Neasley

“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” 
~ Christopher Parker

On September 1st, there will be only 121 days remaining in the year. Where has the time gone? Two-thirds of 2023 is already relegated to our past. Pretty soon the year will be over. So here’s a challenge for you. How much can you get done in 4 months? What significant achievement can you accomplish before the end of the year? You can measure that in money, as in how much can you make, but I think focusing on the cash is a mistake for a lot of people. Tis’ better to focus on the goals. Be better and the money will follow. Never chase the dollar. But that’s just my take. You have 4 months. What else can you learn in your area of expertise that can expand your business services?

Here’s why I’m asking. Most of us usually enter a new year, thinking about what we hope to accomplish, resolutions, and where we want to be. And then that year closes and we’re wondering where the time went so fast. Very soon, it will be 2024 and you’re gonna be surprised that 2023 has already gone. All those goals and ambitions are just going to have to be reiterated in January and you’ll once again promise to redouble your efforts. But lets be honest with ourselves. Didn’t we say the same thing when 2022 ended?

Art Model, Chloe Ann, © 2017 Terrell Neasley

So here are five things you can do to help you maximize these last 4 months of 2023 that might help you break even or possibly get the jump on 2024.

1. Change your environment, friends, and habits. 

Change is the name of the game. You have four months left. You can’t continue doing things the same way you did for last eight months. Switch things up. A new perspective can be the answer. Start by working in a new place. If you have work on your laptop in front of the TV, cut that shit out. Move! Find a new office place. Preferably a quiet, non-distracting space. 

Let your friends know you have urgent business to handle, so you won’t be taking calls or texts, can’t go out, and NO, they can’t swing by. In fact, start hanging around some people you KNOW are more responsible. Tell them your goals for these next four months and let them help you be accountable. But whatever you do, don’t become that distracting friend to them! Because they will let you know… they have urgent business to handle and won’t be taking your calls or texts, can’t go out with you, and NO, you can’t swing by.

Take an inventory of the things you do throughout the day. I know you take a 2-hour lunch because you feel you deserve it… but DO YOU? Probably not, because you haven’t been getting things done for 8 months. You need some new habits. Look at the things you do throughout the day… make that list. Cut out the things that you know dam well don’t matter. And when I say cut, I mean cut ruthlessly and mercilessly. The stakes are high! Priorities matter. FOUR MONTHS! And truthfully, it’s not 4 months because you know you’re going to ease up right after Thanksgiving. The Christmas Spirit starts on December 1st and you start feeling the need to ease up and be flexible. So get on it now! Cut out redundant tasks. Eliminate daily routines that have nothing to do with advancing your business.

Art Model, Chloe Ann, © 2017 Terrell Neasley

2. Get rest, eat better, and drink more water.

Think about getting up early in the morning. You can go to bed whenever you wish, but set that clock to rise up at a specific time, earlier than when you normally get up. If you have a day job, it doesn’t matter. Get up an hour earlier and plan out the day. Have some breakfast that you know will help your brain and body. Your typical heavy pancake, bacon, and eggs are NOT it! And I can tell you, I love me some pancake, eggs, and bacon! Forget McDonalds. Fix a meal that gives your brain energy and helps sustain your body for the day’s task. Google it!

Start exercising! It really doesn’t matter what it is. Get up at 4 am and go for a walk or do floor exercises. It doesn’t have to be much and you don’t need a gym membership. A 30-minute time set aside to start the day will do the trick. An hour would better. If you live in an area that allows you to see some nature, GREAT! I loved that about Las Vegas. I could walk in any one of a plethora of municipal parks in my area. Lone Mountain is a 30-minute hike to the top.  Exercising will also make your body demand more rest. So don’t be surprised when your body wants to go to bed earlier in anticipation for that earlier wake up.  Don’t deny that call for rest. The worst thing you can do is to not listen to your body and instead stay up late on social media. 

Art Model, Chloe Ann, © 2017 Terrell Neasley

Drink water! That can’t be emphasized enough. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Never let your brain NEED water. Give it water before it feels like it needs water. My mom has her tricks so she remembers to drink water. You can come up with your own. So drink plenty of water. Not coffee. Not soda. WATER! Get water IN you and get water ON you. What am I talking about? Showers! Increase the number of showers you take. Not just for hygienic purposes, but for creative purposes. People get their best ideas in the shower! More showers equates to more opportunities to have great ideas. I think that makes sense.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” 

~ Nelson Mandela

3. Make each decision you choose take you closer to your goals. 

Ask yourself… “How does another trip to Zion National Park help my portfolio?” OR “How does shooting this project for free add to my business?” You may in fact, realize that Zion shots are everywhere and it could be that shooting in the Mojave National Reserve could be a fresher look for you. OR, maybe you can shoot Zion from a different perspective that renews people’s interest in your work, like during the winter. It might be more beneficial for you to decline free projects. Exposure and Photo Credits, do not pay the bills. However, if its a volunteer project and you deem there is a high propensity to be introduced to a new demographic of clientele, it could be worth it. But for me, I treat doing free projects like I do lending money. I may do it, but I never ever expect to get my money or anything else back.

4. Break up big jobs into bite-size tasks.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Highly overused, but never more true. Somethings you need to do this year may be overwhelming, daunting, or nigh improbable. I used to do project management gigs and LORD! Everything… even small tasks, gets broken down into actionable steps with estimated timelines. I remember making Gantt charts of Project initiation, planning, execution, and monitoring. It would detail who was responsible for each task and give an expected start and completion date. You may not require anything that elaborate, but breaking hard tasks down into several simple and achievable check-box items can help change how you feel about a big daunting task.

Art Model, Chloe Ann, © 2017 Terrell Neasley

5. Side-train on something you know will be useful later. 

Those first 4 items are mostly defensive options… ways to avoid procrastination and stimulate creativity. But it’s good to also be more proactive and set yourself up in a good position for the upcoming year. Stay abreast of the latest photo news and developments. Find out how AI affects your business. Can you use it?  What does your logo look like? What might happen if you got it professionally redesigned? Invest time and money in lighting workshops, photo conventions, or classes. Do an online tutorial on how to do lighting for sports photography. Take a class on being more efficient in the workplace.

Network! Place yourself in a position to be made aware of where the gigs are coming from. If you don’t know how to do that, ASK SOMEBODY who does! And then make sure you are doing the things that make you qualified to be considered for those gigs. Devote an hour a day, at least 3 days a week to side-train on something that’s going to be useful later.

Art Model, Chloe Ann, © 2017 Terrell Neasley

All this to say that opportunities come your way most every day. But if you are not in a position to take advantage of them, fear not…someone else will. Time… you only have so much of it. Wasted time – its worse than wasted money, wasted food, or wasted anything else you can think of. Everything else, you can make up for it. Opportunities that came along for which you were not prepared for are simply lost. I’ve heard it said that Fortune Favors the Prepared. I believe this to be true. Be smart. Do the right things now. I believe this is a key factor that separates the successful from the “busy”.