Scheduling In the Unexpected

All too quickly it can sneak up on you, like a raccoon in the night.  Okay admittedly, it’s not that clever, I think raccoons are actually kind of loud but who wants to be a thief, I mean really? Raccoons are at least cute even if they are pests in your garbage. I am way off track.  There was going to be a point here and now all you’re doing is visualizing a raccoon and thinking about that little sound that they make.

So the point, umm yes surprising as this may be, I did have a point. What I was trying to illustrate (so poorly) was how quickly and sneakily chaos sneaks up on us. You can have a plan, a great plan and be ready with your spiffy list, with spiffy boxes ready to be checked off with your spiffy branded vista print pen and then it happens – without warning… The unexpected.  And you find yourself wanting (badly I might add) to lay on the floor while shaking your fists, kicking your legs and screaming, ‘it’s not fair’ because your pretty little plan was not prepared for the unexpected. Now if you really think through all of it, in reality, isn’t it always the unexpected that will do it to us? Maybe your child who came down with the flu followed by number 2 and 3 or your assistant who is called away for a family emergency or *insert your own something here*. The unexpected happens and so we really should plan for it. Just stop and think about that for a minute cause when I finally grabbed onto that idea and really thought about it, it was this huge awakening. The unexpected will happen, not maybe, not possibly – WILL. So schedule in the wiggle room. That’s one thing I’ve always done and have been so grateful for time and time again.

I’ll give you a couple of examples to help you get your own ideas rolling (and I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!!)

Delivery time. I explain to my clients that quality takes time and that orders can take up to 8 weeks to be ready for them. I work with several vendors for different products that are offered and at least one of those vendors does in fact have a 4 week turnaround but most of them I will get much quicker than 8 weeks so why do I give such an exaggerated window? To give room for the unexpected. And I always (ALWAYS) want to exceed the clients expectations by under promising and over delivering.

I like to schedule multiple sessions on one day. It’s a personal thing and I know a lot of people can’t image doing it but for me it works. I want full weekends for my family so I schedule multiple session two Saturday’s a month and the other two are mine. When I schedule the sessions I always start with the 9:30 slot and work my way up, scheduling up to 3 sessions for the day. Now I always start with the earliest because I want to get back to my family as soon as I can, I schedule the next session to follow with a 1/2 hour wiggle room and the third session would come after that. I would not schedule the first slot and the third slot without the second slot filled. And the 1/2 hour is usually just some nice resting time and often I can get the card unloaded and sometimes sorted even – but the wiggle room is there, why? For the unexpected. (Special Note: I do not schedule newborns this way! Newborns are only scheduled on weekdays and with no other appointments following).

Arranging your work life to have wiggle room scheduled in for your real life will hopefully save you from having to make very real decisions between disappointing clients and disappointing your family.

P.S. Let your family win. You can always find new clients, but family is once in a lifetime!

  1. Erin says:

    This is wonderful advice, much thanks! I’m still a newbie in the business, so I’ll be watching the comments for more help. You’re the best!

  2. Kalli says:

    Thanks again for your words of wisdom. As the year comes to a close, and the goals are being written down by the pages, organization is at the top of my list. Thank you!

  3. Amanda says:

    I loved this, and it could not have come at a better time for me. I have 5 children and they are all homeschooled. This leaves very little wriggle room – but I like the idea of doing 2 or 3 shoots in a day, rather than spreading them out. I am having trouble getting clients to understand that, like you said, quality takes time. I will have them calling 3 days after a session wanting to know why their photos are not allready up for viewing! I explain to them before hand how long it will take – 3-4 weeks and even give it to them in writing! Maybe this is one of those things that I will always deal with? Although, I have found that my client base is turning from deal seekers to those who really love my art – and they are more patient! Thanks again – just found you all and I love reading your posts!

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