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Nancy Ray on Time Management : Part Two

Business LifeFilmGuest PostInterview June 17, 2016

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If you missed yesterday’s post with the beginning of Nancy Ray’s process on time management, check it out here.


3. Plan out each day by the hour
I love Whitney English’s Day Designer and Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner for this reason: You can map out your day hour by hour. Talk about making the most of your day! Every morning, I sit down and write down my top 3 priorities for the day. Then, I write out what I’m going to do hour by hour in order to accomplish those priorities.

Here’s my example for today:
No. 1: Blog Organization in Time
No. 2: Clear emails before the weekend
No. 3: Pack for weekend away
6:00 – Up! Coffee and Scripture and Prayer
7:00 – Read current book
8:00 – Prep studio / email clean up
9:00 – Consultation with Callie + Bride
10:00 – Blog
11:00 – Google Hangout with Amber Housely
12:00 – Lunch + UPS store + library (errands)
1:00 – Emails
2:00 – Emails
3:00 – Emails + Prep equipment for session
4:00 – Take care of Winston / ShootQ maintenance
5:00 – Drive to session
6:00 – Engagement Session
7:00 – Engagement Session
8:00 – Dinner / Pack for weekend
9:00 – Pack, catch up with Will
10:00 – Bed!

When I sit down and plan out my day at the beginning of my day, it keeps me on track to accomplish what I need to. Tomorrow, we leave early for a family wedding. I want to make sure everything is planned and accomplished before we leave! For example, I am confident I’ll enjoy my weekend and be fully present with my family if all of my emails are caught up, and if I’m packed tonight instead of rushing around in the morning.


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4. Become an Email Ninja
Call me crazy – I don’t care! It really helps me knock out some emails, y’all. I call is my Email Ninja game. Here’s how you play:

Step 1:
Grab a colorful post it note. Write the current time and number of emails in your inbox, then put the sticky at the bottom of your computer screen so it’s constantly in front of you.
Step 2: Put on music (Soundtracks only: no words! The Pride and Prejudice Soundtrack is my favorite email and blog writing music). Turn off all social media and distractions. The only reason you are allowed to get up from your chair is to use the bathroom. THAT’S IT.
Step 3: Answer as many emails as you possible can. Delete all junk mail without even reading the content. Be efficient and as fast as possible. Once you answer an email, FILE it so it’s out of your inbox.
Step 4: Grab that same post it note, and write the current time and number of emails in your inbox at the end of your email ninja game.
If your inbox is at zero, you WIN!
If you reached a goal you set for yourself in a certain amount of time, you WIN!
If you got distracted with social media, you LOSE.
If you got a snack, then started folding laundry, then decided to vacuum, you LOSE. (Been there, done that.)


5. Outsource
If your work is simply too much, it’s time to outsource. This is why I love Indie Film Lab! They take care of scanning our images and making them beautiful, which has cut down on our editing time substantially. As my business grew, I knew I had to hire some help. Here are a few ideas on ways you can outsource in your work and your personal life to make the most of your time:

Use a wonderful film lab like Indie Film Lab
Outsource your editing to a photo editor like Indie’s Post. service or one of my faves, Marissa Lynn
Hire an Intern (Not sure if you’re ready? Download this free guide.
Childcare (nanny sharing / day cares / baby sitters / “mama’s helper”)
Laundry (yes – there are local laundry folding services!)
Hire a virtual assistant


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6. Work hard, Rest well.
This last point is the WHY behind all of this. It is the most important point of all, actually. It’s the reason I’m passionate about managing my time and resources well! I believe we were created to live life to the full, to give our everything to our work, then to throw ourselves into good and true rest. To be face to face with family and our loved ones – not distracted with work undone or iPhones or Instagram. This can be so difficult in today’s world, but it’s worth fighting for!
Work Hard! How often do we say we are “working,” when really we are distracted, trying to tackle too many things at once, and looking at Instagram or at an online sale during work hours? I’ve been there, friends. It’s still a struggle! But one thing I know to be true: I love the feeling of coming to the end of a day, knowing that I worked hard, stayed focused, and accomplished all that I could for that day. Working hard allows us to truly appreciate good rest.
Rest well, friends. That means taking a weekly Sabbath, turning off social media, reading a book, getting outside, allowing your mind time and space to think and relax. Its good for the soul! This is not always easy to do, especially for entrepreneurs like myself, because there is always work to be done. Can I get an amen? It’s so hard to shut everything down for a day, but when I rest well, I can accomplish more fulfilling and focused work. When I work hard, I can rest well and be 100% present with those I love.


Learn more from Nancy Ray:
Blog –
Nancy Ray Shop –




Nancy Ray on Time Management : Part One

Business LifeFilmGuest PostInterview June 16, 2016

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I’m going to be honest: time is my weakness. Often, I have a hard time focusing on what’s in front of me. I believe my generation (and especially the generation to follow) are going to have to fight distractions and teach ourselves to focus more than any other. With social media, fast-paced TV, our phones at our fingertips, texting, and constantly scrolling and seeing something new and fresh, it will take more self control than ever to sit and focus on just one thing for a long amount of time.

I will be the first to say I do not have it all together, but I want to keep learning.  I am not always on time – in fact, I’m often late and often distracted. However, I am striving to live fully in the moment, to say no to distractions, to do my best work and to rest well and often.

While I’m not perfect, I do have systems in place that help me manage my time well in my work and home. Over time, I’ve learned a few tips that hopefully will help you too. If you’re like me, you’re ready to be one of those “early people!” You’re ready to finish your day feeling accomplished, rather than incomplete and rushed. We can do this, so let’s dive in together!

I have to start with this rather long excerpt from one of my favorite-ever books, Boundaries. Please stick with me here and read this. You won’t regret it! :

“Many people feel that their time is out of control. They are “eleventh hour people,” constantly on the edge of deadlines. Try as they might, they find the day – every day – getting away from then. There just aren’t enough hours to accomplish their tasks. The word easily doesn’t seem to be part of their personal experience. Some of the time binds these strugglers deal with are these:
• Business meetings
• Luncheon appointments
• Project deadlines
• Church and school activities
• Holiday mailings

… The problem often stems from one more more of the following causes:

1. Omnipotence: These people have unrealistic, somewhat grandiose expectations of what they can accomplish in a given amount of time. ‘No problem – I’ll do it’ is their motto.
2. Overresponsibily for the feelings of others. They think that leaving a party too early wil cause the host to feel abandoned.
3. Lack of realistic anxiety. They live so much in the present that they neglect to plan ahead for traffic, parking the car, or dressing for an outing.
4. Rationalization. They minimize the distress and inconvenience that others must put up with because of their lateness. They think, ‘They’re my friends – they’ll understand.’

The person with undeveloped time self-boundaries ends up frustrating not only others, but himself. He ends the day without the sense that a ‘desire realized is sweet to the soul’ (Prov 13:19). Instead, he is left with unrealized desires, half-baked projects, and the realization that tomorrow will begin with him running behind schedule.”



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The first time I read this section of Boundaries, I felt hope because I identified with it so much. After years of practice, I am no longer “rushing” through life.

If you are ready to take hold of your time, I would suggest trying the following exercises:

Track your time
Map out your ideal week
Plan every day hour by hour
Become an Email Ninja
Work Hard, Rest Well

I’ve worked through each exercise in the past 2 years, and they have been invaluable to me! If I may make another suggestion, do NOT try to tackle all of these at once. Try one per week, or one per month even, and see how it works for you. I can confidently say that each of them WILL be worth your time!

In today’s post I’ll be sharing about the first two exercises. Stay tuned tomorrow for the next 4!


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1 : Track your Time

Last year, I read 168 Hours and it had such a profound impact on my life. Laura (the author) explains that the very first step to take hold of your time is to simply record how you are currently spending it. Although it seems daunting at first, it is actually quite simple! All you have to do is write down how you spend your time in 30 minute increments. You can see how I tracked my time for an entire month below. I highlighted my “work hours,” so I could realistically see how many hours a week I was working. I could also total my time for exercising, sleeping, hanging out with people I love, reading, etc. It was so enlightening to me! She warned us that we often tend to think we work much more than we actually do. That proved true for me. Here are a few takeaways that I had after doing this exercise:
– I thought I was working 50-60 hours/week, when I worked an average of 40 hours/week.
– It’s important to bundle all errands together once/week to save time driving. Driving can really add up.
– I was spending much more time with friends that I thought I was! We regularly ate dinner with friends and spent time in ministry at church.
– I wanted to spend more hours/week exercising.
– I wanted to spend more hours/week sleeping.
– I wanted to spend less hours/week driving.
– I wanted to be more intentional with how I spend my leisure time.  More baths, walks, and dinners at home. Less piddling at home, TV, and driving.
Here is a Time Log Download if you are up for the challenge!


2. Map out your ideal week
This post by Michael Hyatt inspired me to do this for myself, and it’s a game changer. I see in the “big picture,” so creating time blocks was immensely helpful for me! Here is a view of my ideal week. I’m currently in the process of updating it now. As a wedding photographer, it is helpful to update it seasonally. I would encourage you: update it when you need to! It’s like a time budget. It won’t work perfectly the first few months, but you’ll be able to make it work for you after a while if you are committed to trying it. When I do stick to my ideal week, it feels wonderful. But keep in mind: it’s called an IDEAL week for a reason, and life is not always ideal. Life happens! Allow for grace and change. Don’t set your plan so strictly that you don’t allow for the Lord to bring things your way if He wants to.


Learn more from Nancy Ray:
Blog –
Nancy Ray Shop –