Pruning my ever-growing workload

by Todd Smith on April 7, 2009

A few weeks ago, I featured orchard pruning in a newsletter. Since then I’ve had a lot of time to think about doing some pruning in my life.

I went to my favorite doctor, Vaidya Mishra, and he told me in no uncertain terms that I have to back off, slow down, and most especially decrease my computer use. I’m getting too much electromagnetic radiation every day and it’s affecting my health. Specifically, he told me I need to take a break after every two hours of computer use, and stop using the computer at night – as in “don’t go near it after 7pm!”

I’ll admit, it took me a full week to accept this one. It means getting way more streamlined in what I do. Sure I’m in front of the computer all day, but how much of what I am doing is really productive? I’ve been thinking more and more about what my priorities are for my business and this is forcing me to keep the important things at the top of my to-do list every day. That’s the only way my work will keep from spilling over into my nights.

My sister Sarah, (from has been preaching this forever and I’m just now starting to hear it. She says, use the 80:20 rule: take care of a few important things (20%) and you will solve 80% of your problems.

I guess pruning is just about making priorities. Choosing which branches and shoots will be the ones you want to build your tree on. For me the most important shoots of my business tree are:

  • my newsletter – because that’s what motivates me to get out and create new photos all the time
  • new product pages for my website – because my business depends on selling photography products like framed prints, greeting cards, calendars, wallpaper, and unframed prints
  • my blog – because this is where we all create new products together and where I get feedback from everyone
  • social media – because that’s where I meet new people and build relationships that lead to new opportunities

I put them in order of priority for me. That means that if I have to cut something, it will be from the bottom of the list first. For example, I’m spending a lot less time on Twitter as I used to. It’s hard to cut things I love, but I can’t do it all. I can’t believe I’m still learning this lesson at age 38. I have always done everything that I was “supposed” to do (in school for example I always did all my homework). The problem is that the more you grow, the more there is to do. Some decisions have to be made.

In my school days, and in other phases of my life, I often chose to neglect my sleep or play time in order to do all the things on my plate. I did everything that everyone else asked me to do, but I didn’t leave time for me to have a life. Now I’m realizing that I can choose the things I want to excel at and neglect other things. This time I’m choosing to take care of my health and run a profitable business. Some areas of my business may not grow as fast as I might like, but I’m going to be more conscious of keeping balance in my life now. And I’m going to do it by focusing on the 20% of things that really matter most.

How about you? Are you doing too much? Do you have clear priorities? Have you been through crossroads like mine before? What’s your advice?

Here are the photos that inspired these thoughts. Every year the orchardists prune their trees… why don’t we?

If you would like to purchase these photos as wallpaper for your computer, you can do so here.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ilan April 7, 2009 at 7:49 pm
Todd Smith April 7, 2009 at 7:55 pm
Diane April 14, 2009 at 11:49 am

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