President’s message: Crunch time

PPA President Audrey Wancket
© Gregory Daniel Portraits and Kyla Renee Paintings
PPA President Audrey Wancket

It’s that time of year. After school is back in session, time seems to fly straight into the holiday crunch. For me, crunch time is when suddenly everything—all the photographs ordered as well as the frames—are due on the same day, usually the 20th of December. It seems every client waits too long to order because they’re so busy. And once they’ve ordered, of course, they need it yesterday. How do you keep up with the orders and your sanity at the same time?

Time management is a challenge for many creatives. My tactics for time management apply primarily to smaller studios, mom-and-pop businesses, and the photographers who do it all since that’s where my experience lies.

Here are some thoughts to get you ready to conquer the holiday season:

Time management factors into a healthy work-life balance. Whether you have children at home or not, account for the unexpected by building in a little extra time for the surprises that inevitably happen in a family. Let me share with you the word I find most foul that many people use: busy. Saying you are busy is not an excuse. Clients are busy, too, and don’t need to feel like they’re imposing on you. Clients come to you for a portrait, an album, etc. Be conscious of what you promise to deliver and make sure to deliver it. The quickest way to lose a return client or get a bad review is to disappoint a client at this time of year. Take the time to prioritize. Make a list and decide what’s important and in what order you want to accomplish these tasks. I personally like a checklist because checking off completed items motivates me to keep going even when I’m tired. (I’ve even been known to add a task to my list after completing it just so I could see how much I accomplished).

Running a business requires far more than just completing client work. Your to-do lists should include paying bills, blogging, returning client calls, updating social media, and completing other marketing tasks. We wear so many hats; we feel like we are chief cook and bottle washer. On that note, don’t forget to clean your studio, bathrooms, and any other area your clients may see. If you can delegate that, by all means ask for help.

On the other side of this balancing act is your home life. If you have school-age children, I recommend that at the beginning of the academic year you enter their schedules into your calendar as appointments. That way you won’t risk having a session on the evening of the holiday program at school. Buy all your teacher and hostess gifts well ahead of time so they’re ready to grab whenever you need them. And be sure to schedule personal time for your own sanity. My husband has a different career than I do, so a little shoptalk at night is OK for us. But if you work with your spouse, you might consider shutting off the business discussions in the evening so you can have a personal life, too. 

What are your tips and secrets for managing your time during the holiday crunch? I can’t wait to hear from you about how your season went. I hope you’re able to wow your clients and set a new sales record for 2019.  


Audrey Wancket is the owner of Wancket Studios in Spring Grove, Illinois.