Lori Pickens

goal setting for photographers with lori pickens

How Daily Goals Can Help You as a Photographer

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As a photographer, one of the biggest actionable steps I was able to implement was setting daily goals. By setting these, I saw a change in my productivity, my creativity, and even a shift in how my time was spent within my business and with my family. Setting goals will have a huge impact on your photography too. When you set goals within your photography business (or even your photography hobby) you will find a desire to learn more, find more confidence in your work, and you will even reignite your passion.

You don’t have to ‘go big or go home’ with your goals. I recommend that when you start, set a Daily Big 3. These goals are bite-sized and not overwhelming. I am your typical Type A, Enneagram 3, list-maker. It helps to have a running to-do list and I actually enjoy the process of planning and organizational tracking. One thing that has really improved my daily focus and productivity is when I discovered the Daily Big 3 – and you can only imagine how those goals will impact your photography!

The Daily Big 3 is a concept I learned about from the Full Focus Planner. The idea of the Daily Big 3 is to list the three main things you want to accomplish in a day. They can be personal, photography-related, or anything in between. Maybe they are the three most important things on your to-do list, maybe one or two of them are just urgent and need to be accomplished today. Either way, it is your way of taking control of your to-do list.

Lori, West Viriginia Photographer and Photography Mentor using a laptop. A striped hanging wall decoration is behind her.

Creating Success with Goals

By defining what your Daily Big 3 (this can be personal or photography goals) you are clearly stating what a successful day looks like to you. Maybe your to-do list actually ends the day with more items on it than you started with, but you know that if you checked off those three things that you set out to do, you can end your day feeling successful. It provides the psychological effect of defining a win. You are juggling alot between family, photo sessions, editing, and all the other things life brings, having those guaranteed wins will not only boost your confidence but you will find extra motivation to continue to hit those milestones.

Eliminating Overwhelm for Photographers

We all know that having a to-do list a mile long can feel overwhelming. Like I mentioned earlier, as a photographer, you are juggling A LOT! Overwhelm leads to stress; our brains are actually wired to avoid stress and pain, so next thing we know, we’re scrolling Instagram to avoid the feeling of looking at our long list of to-dos and wondering where to even start. With these goals, you have three items that you know you have already prioritized, and you can focus on accomplishing them. You can feel confident you are getting the right stuff done.

Make Your Goals Visible

I recommend keeping the Big 3 out where you can see them throughout the day. This could look like a pretty planner that sits open on your desk. One easy way to do this is to use three sticky notes to write and stick on your computer screen each morning.

I actually like to start each day by setting a reminder on my iPhone for each of the three items. If I am in the middle of something I can’t stop when the reminder pops up – for example packing lunches or doing school drop off, I will pick the “Remind me in an hour” option. It happens all of the time – I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve set my Daily Big 3, maybe even started one before the day gets going, but then I have to stop to drop the kids off. But when I get home from drop off, I see an email came in that I want to respond to or notice my son’s too small hoodie laying on the floor and remember I need to order a bigger one. Down the rabbit hole of distractions I go, until – DING! – the notification pops up and reminds me of what I am actually supposed to be focusing on. The best part is that these reminders sync between all of my Apple devices, so whether I am sitting at my Mac, just walked in the door and am carrying my phone, or I am throwing clothes in the dryer and it’s my watch that gets me back on track.

Can I Set More Goals for My Photography Business?

There is no rule that if you get those three main things done, you can’t then just keep rolling with your to-do list. In fact, most of the time, if I get my Big 3 done early enough in the day, I have a sense of accomplishment and almost feel inspired to keep being productive. I even often feel more creative – knowing that I already got the “right stuff” done and have the freedom that anything else I do is just a bonus for the day. Three is an easy, actionable, and OBTAINABLE number. That way you are setting yourself up for success. If anything, make a to-do list that you can refer to once you have hit all of your Big 3. I personally have a BIG 3 for both personal and photography goals, so keeping a to-do list has been extremly helpful in meeting those extra goals.

What If I Only Have One Goal?

As a photographer, there will be days when you have an item on your to-do list that realistically will take you an entire day or maybe even more than one day. I’ve heard the people at Full Focus Planner say that it is ok to have a Big 1 or even a Big 2, if that is all that your schedule will allow. I would actually push you to look at your big item and ask yourself if it could be broken out into smaller sub-tasks.

For example, on your list is “Edit Saturday’s Wedding” – yes, this could be considered one item, but I would say it would be better to define this as multiple steps in the task:

  • Upload the images
  • Backup the images
  • Cull the images
  • Edit the getting ready images
  • Edit the ceremony

Maybe the main thing on your to-do list is to plan your kid’s birthday party. That could be split into:

  • Wrap presents
  • Plan a game
  • Order cake

I would argue almost any “task” you have could be broken down into at least three milestones or subtasks. If you can create the habit of declaring a Daily Big 3 and knocking them out, you can begin to feel like each day is a win.


I have a few tools in my toolbelt that will help you grow to be the photographer you’ve always wanted to be!  Whether you are prepping to be a ClickPro Elite or you are just ready to start leveling up and making new goals, check out these resources to help you grow!

The Click Community

Must Have Tools for your Photography Business

What’s in my Bag – Cameras, Lenses, and More

Fearless Indoor Light – a Self-Paced course

Indoor Light Challenge

Film Challenge
(for the challenges, you must be in the Click Community)

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