What Really Happens When You Quit Your Day Job Part 2: The Emotions and Five Tips For a Productive Work Day

This is a unsugar-coated look into what life is really like when you walk away from the steady paycheck and enter the world of being self-employed. I will be sharing my experiences, thoughts, and anything else that comes my way as I navigate the waters of being a full-time photographer. I also hope to interview other full-time photographers to share their experiences with you as well.

Last week, I covered six important business tips I suggested doing before you book your first paying client. This week I’m going to dive into the emotion I felt when I left my day job, and how I structured my work day to be more productive.


The Emotions

Leaving my day job was an easy thing to do in terms of the process. I wrote up my two weeks notice, printed it out, signed it, made a copy, and handed it to my boss. That put into motion the reality that I was leaving, no more thinking about it, no more talking about it, I was really going to be leaving in two weeks. When I first handed in my notice, I didn’t feel much, it felt like a business transaction. It was not until my hour long drive home that evening did it hit me. I felt free.

My job was not a bad one; it just wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore. My goal before I went to college was to own my own creative business and I worked hard to get to the point of leaving my job to run my business full-time. My last two weeks flew by and were marked with well wishes from co-workers that I miss seeing everyday, and comments about how it takes guts to leave and be self-employed. On my last day when I drove my long commute home, I had smile on my face knowing when I woke up the next day, I was finally on the road to following my dream.


The Next Morning

Some might take a few days off or maybe a week once they are free to be their own boss, but not me. I woke up the next day after leaving my job to plenty of work. I got up, did my normal morning routine and instead of walking to my car, I walked to my home office. It felt right, I was ready! I had two client meetings, an engagement session to get ready for, I needed to write an article for SLR Lounge, and I had online meetings with my team of writers over at 35to220.com. Then it hit me, how am I going to manage all this on a daily basis and still have a productive work day?


Five Tips For a Productive Work Day

1. Wake up and Get Ready for Work

Sure, you are self-employed and are free to sleep in or sit at your desk in sweat pants all day if you want. I have found though, the days that I don’t wake up, have breakfast, and get dressed for work are days I get almost nothing done. Getting up and dressed for work gives you a sense that it’s time to work, and can help give you the energy to get your work done. Also, you might consider waking up early. Several studies have shown that a common trait in the top CEOs and other influential people is waking up before everyone else and being productive.


2. Stay Off Social Media

If you take one thing away from this article, it is this. Stay off of social media when you are working. Nothing can kill your drive to get work done more than an hour wasted on Facebook. Just think of all the work you could have completed in that hour looking at meaningless Facebook posts or Tweets. Now, if you use social media for work, than by all means use it, but don’t waste time looking at meaningless things, do what you need to do for business, then log off.

3. Designate Working Hours

I cannot stress this point enough to anyone who works from home; you need to set business hours for yourself.  I know photography is not a normal 9-5 job. If you shoot weddings like myself; you are going to meet with clients in the evenings, and shoot engagement sessions and weddings on the weekends. Those are not everyday tasks though; there will be many days that you are not meeting with a client or shooting something. Figure out what schedule works best for you and stick to it as much as you can.

My Schedule

  • 8-9am: Check email and social media sites associated with my business only.
  • 9-11am: Client work (photo editing, respond to emails, contracts, working on wedding timelines, etc.)
  • 11am-1pm: SLR Lounge work
  • 1-1:30pm: Lunch
  • 1:30-3:30pm: 35to220.com work (talk with my team, work on features, emails, etc.)
  • 3:30-5pm: More client work
  • 5pm: Walk away from my office (My day is done)

4. Take a Lunch Break

At your day job, you probably had a lunch break right? Well, you still should take one! It’s a good thing to take a half hour-to-hour break. Leave your office and have lunch, work out, take a walk, get a coffee, etc. It breaks up your day and gives you the energy to finish up the rest of your day.


5. Call It a Day

I end my days at 5pm when I don’t have a client meeting or session to shoot that day. I literally put my computer on sleep and leave my home office. Sure, not all my work is done, but unless I’m on a deadline, there is always tomorrow. Go enjoy the rest of the day knowing you had a good workday, and that what you didn’t get done today can always be done tomorrow.


Figuring out a good work schedule is totally up to you, and you’re free to do as you please. But, I guarantee if you have one you follow as close as you can, you will get more work done and feel better about working from home.

Till next time, keep shooting, building your business, and embrace the hustle!