Huzzah! We’ve closed the books on another year! Most of us find the New Year’s aura to be lovely. The thought of casting off all the bad, reflecting on the good, and rolling with new momentum can be cathartic & energizing. If you’re like me, though, you tend to get a bit overwhelmed. As a wedding photographer, I’m just coming down off Insane Season where for the last 3-4 months all I’ve done is sleep (barely),edit, eat (too much holiday junk), edit, ponder the meaning of why the heck everyone and their brother seems to have to get married in the Fall, and did I mention edit?

For all my good intentions to manage things better and keep a perfect work life balance, I failed. All the little things went through the cracks and now, they’re staring at me with new year’s resolve screaming loudly, “fix me! fix me!” in a cacophony of neediness that has me totally overwhelmed and ready to start attaching the phrase “bah humbug!” to my friends’ choruses of “Happy New Year”. I’m sure I can’t be the only one experiencing this so I’d like to share with you, my plan for tackling the mayhem. Hopefully, it will help you, too!

1) Get Physical: Start by moving stuff around. Get all the physical items, cords, hard drives back in their proper place. Get organized. Wipe those grimy keyboards & screens down. Get that filing cabinet squared away. Double check you have your client paperwork in order. I promise after you get your workspace clear, your head will be a little clearer as well.

2) Check Yo’ Self Before Ya Wreck Yo’ Self: Time to ensure you’re all backed up before you go mucking around getting your system organized. The last thing you need is to move a file somewhere and think it was copied but wasn’t. This is a good time to start employing some best practices of having an automated backup system and/or storage. I use the basic Drobo system, and store all my image files on that so I know those are safe and secure. I also utilized Apple’s Time Machine (hooked to a dedicated external drive) for all the rest of my documents on my machine.

3) Get Organized: Once you’ve ensured everything is at least backed up, you know you’re safe to go moving things around. All those files you downloaded to your desktop? Move them where they need to be. The contracts you didn’t get out of your email? Get them in their place. All that junk mail? Get rid of it. Photo files all over the place? Consolidate them into a system that works for you. Mine is by client but I know others that do it by date.

4) Set Yourself Up For Success: Now that you’ve got the outside and inside stuff squared away and organized, now is the time to set up some best practices that will set you up for success. If you’ve always meant to automate your backups, take the time now to set that up. Take care of those nagging software updates. Do any computer maintenance you may need. Install that new piece of software or try that new service you’ve been thinking about signing up for. All those things that get in the way and disrupt your zen flow of edit-mania finally have found the time to get done!

5) Don’t Over Think It: Social media saturates us with messages from all the other photographers out there about how wonderful their year was, their clients are, how awesome their new resolution is, how they’re going to smash their goals, blah blah blah. That’s great. Yay, positivity! But don’t get bogged down in reading it so much that you begin to doubt yourself and the awesomeness you’re going to do this year.

6) Don’t Rush It: A lot of people don’t schedule enough time for this housecleaning process. Don’t rush it. Give yourself ample time to sift through the rubble of last year and really think about the things that worked and the things that didn’t. For me, I’m scheduling this process over a week. If you give yourself that time, hopefully, you’ll be able to lay down a plan that will ultimately make your life easier, not just in 2015, but for each year to come. A smooth operation is what’s going to help the creativity and profits flow!

So there you have it! Start at the beginning, lay a proper foundation, and take baby steps on your way toward rocking out 2015. Clear your workspace, your mind, and find a system that works for you to give yourself your best shot at having a workflow that allows you to focus on your fabulous shooting, instead of a workflow that makes it all feel like, well, work. That is after all, why we all got into photography in the first place, right?

Lisa is a D.C. based wedding photographer. Check out her website !