• Ask Anything

about the “business” end of my work week and how I manage everything. Well, since I don’t have an intern or a paid assistant, I have to be on top of my game… constantly. And that’s hard work.  Running a small business is like raising a child. (Obviously I don’t know what it takes to raise a child but this is the best comparison I could think of!). Why? Because it’s constantly growing, needs DAILY attention and supervision, is constantly out growing itself and the work is NEVER done. Ever. You can’t turn off being a parent and you can’t turn off being a small business owner.

The job follows you home and it never disappears. It’s tough and it takes discipline. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still learning how to be disciplined in my business! You all see me blog everyday but that doesn’t mean that I’ve always been consistent with things behind the scenes. It’s really a miracle that my business made it past the “college” phase.  When I started in college and was working out of a dorm room, my organizational skills were the bare minimum. I’m happy to say that after 2 years of being full time, I finally have some systems down!! I’m going to share about one them today and I hope those of you that are managing LIFE and a business find this helpful!



 About 6 months ago, at the beginning of the new year, I wrote out a massive list of things that went REALLY well in 2012 and things that didn’t.  I then went through that “things that didn’t go so well” list and I came up with solutions! Here were some things that I needed help with:
– Not keeping up with mileage records
– Not filing sales tax on time
– Forgetting to blog goals until it’s the middle of the month!
– Not updating and recording expenses regularly
– Realizing the mortgage was due 2 days late
– Not planning my blogging
– Paying bills and paying off credit cards
I realized that most of the things that I wasn’t keeping up with were MONTHLY tasks. The issue was that I would put them off and then all of a sudden, 3 months had gone by and I was so overwhelmed at the thought of these tasks that I just continued to ignore them.  These monthly tasks in and of themselves are not HARD tasks, they just take about an hour to accomplish. So I implemented this new system for my business called “The Monthly Duty Day”. Basically, I made a spread sheet with a list of monthly tasks that HAD to be accomplished on the first workday of every month. So for example, this month’s duty day fell on a Monday. So Monday July 2nd, I got up, blogged about my goals for the month and I completed this month’s checklist of duties. I entered the mileage for June, paid sales tax for June, sent the mortgage check, updated my business Mint account with any expenses that needed to be categorized, printed and filled in a new blogging calendar for July and mailed my client gifts.  (I also gave Bokeh his heartworm pill and frontline treatment).
These are all monthly duties that were getting jumbled up and overlooked in 2011 and so this SIMPLE system has given me a way to keep everything under control! My CPA is going to LOVE me at the end of the year!! It seems like such a simple concept to gather all of your monthly “to-do’s” and just accomplish them in one morning but I had never thought about it before this past winter! It’s not always fun, I actually dread it but when I check those things off my list, I feel like my “July” is off to a good start!! Speaking of to-do’s, I’m off to take this fluffy boy to the groomers. He’s DYING in this 100 degree weather so we’re saying goodbye to the fluff until the fall. :( I’ll miss the fluffiness but I know he’ll feel so much better on our walks! Happy Monday!


xoxo, Katelyn
26 Comments Ask Anything, Education
  1. Samantha June reply

    Great idea!! I will definitely give this a try if small business ownership becomes a part of my future…fingers crossed! :)

  2. Tiffany Sigmon reply

    Oh! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. For this. I have borderline NO organizational skills. And it’s starting to overwhelm the mess out of me. Every day when I sit down to do my work I don’t even know where to start. I could even be getting a lot done each day, but realizing how much more is piling up every week, I feel like I get no where! I think this is a simple way to dwindle a little stress. Thanks :)

  3. Janna reply

    This was such a helpful post! I struggle the most with the “admin” and “financial” duties that come along with running a business. I also juggle a fulltime job in addition to running it…so seeing that you are so fantastically successful and will share what you’ve learned along the way…THANK YOU!

    <3 Janna

  4. Caroline reply

    That’s such a great idea! I definitely find that it’s the longer term/monthly goals that are tougher to accomplish than the more immediate, day to day tasks

  5. Jenni reply

    Thank so much for the great advice! I’m not a photographer – but I do own my own small business and these are great practices to put in place! It’s so easy to forget about the long term aspects when your day-to-day is so hectic!

  6. Susan Evans reply

    Great advice…and Bokeh is just too darn cute!! Can’t wait to see a picture after his haircut.

  7. Anna reply

    Wow thank you! I don’t feel so alone now :) I love that you shared this! I am horrible with tracking mileage!

  8. Melissa reply

    Love this! These are the things that ALWAYS seem to get passed over on my to do list too – I’m totally implementing the first working day of the month rule!

  9. Christy Tyler reply

    I love this Katelyn! I am totally going to *steal* this from you. I usually do this all in one day – but it isn’t ever at a very consistent time in the month. (Actually I do all of it but the mileage – so I definitely need to add that part in!) Thanks for being so inspiring!!!

  10. Meghan reply

    I’m going to be a freshman at CNU this fall and I hope to be a photographer one day and handle all of the business aspects myself and I feel like I have learned so much by reading your posts like this! So thank you so much Katelyn!

  11. Bethany Cox reply

    That reminds me to give Hattie her heartworm pill. Ha!

  12. Sara S reply

    woo! girl, I don’t know how you do it…I have a hard enough time keeping my classroom organized, I could never handle a business!! Rock on!

  13. LeolaK reply

    You always have and share the best ideas! This can be applied to getting organized for anything in your life. Awesome! I love your handwriting…too bad there’s no tips to teach that! LOL Love the Bokeh pics…that face! Ahh!

  14. Lynn reply

    K, you’re brilliant. I’ll definitely be stealing you idea. Love anything that helps to keep me organized!

  15. Tuesday Tips | Monthly Check-ups » Annamarie Akins Photography reply

    […] while ago I read about Katelyn James’ Monthly Duty Day on her blog…it’s all about getting those pesky monthly tasks done that are CRUCIAL to […]

  16. Jenna Petersen reply

    I LOVE this!!! Thank you for so inspiring a new system for me. I just went full-time last month and this post was so encouraging to read. I just might make myself a “monthly duties day” too. :)

  17. Is | Virginia Wedding Photographer | Katelyn James Photography reply

    […] Add it to your monthly list of “to-do’s” for the business! We add it to our Monthly Duty Day! By all means, don’t wait until the end of the year!!! Ah! Talk about overwhelming!! There […]

  18. Well | Virginia Wedding Photographer | Katelyn James Photography reply

    […] blogged about my “Monthly Duty Day” concept. This is how I make sure monthly things don’t slip through the cracks! I quickly […]

  19. creating business bliss: five tips to boost your productivity reply

    […] can also be helpful to batch weekly or monthly tasks. Katelyn James has a “monthly duty day” where she does a lot of the little administrative tasks that have to get done each month, […]

  20. April Goals. | Alexa's Photography reply

    […] following another photographer, Katelyn James, and she came up with this awesome idea of doing a monthly duty day. Basically, you make a list of everything that you need to do monthly (she includes bills and […]

  21. Happy New Year! January & 2016 goals | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] come) – Implement 12 “Duty Days” in 2016 – 1 per month (thanks Katelyn for this helpful blogpost!) – Save $30,000 for a new home – 12 month marketing plan – Write Contentment […]


    […] – Determine a ‘duty day’ twice a month (read all about what a duty day is by Katelyn James) […]

  23. Business Tips for the New Year reply

    […] One way we create consistency is our Month Duty Day! The First Monday of every month we take care of the little monthly tasks that so often get put on the back burner. • Update mileage records • File sales tax • Updating and recording expenses • Paying the mortgage • Blogging Calendar • Paying bills and paying off credit cards • Give Bokeh his Flea and Heart worm MedicineKATELYN JAMES […]

  24. Sarah reply

    This is brilliant. We are so bad about paying bills regularly, but having a “business” day one day a month would go SO far. Thanks for this tip!!

  25. April 2016 Goals + Announcement! » Kelsey Nelson Photography | NC Wedding Photographer reply

    […] off for way too long. Even if you’re not a small business owner, I recommend checking out this post. If you are a small business owner, I recommend stalking Katelyn […]

  26. Monthly Duty Day – Heart Love Always reply

    […] doing monthly duty days on the first Monday of every month for a few years now. I got the idea from Katelyn James and can honestly say that it was a small business and blogging game changer for […]

Reply to: