Why You Should Always Look to Do Your Routine Tasks More Efficiently

Photographer Howard Ignatius captures another killer sunset on M

If you’re into photography, whether as a serious hobby or as a profession, you probably find yourself doing repetitive tasks on a routine basis. You’ve probably also heard various tips, tricks, and strategies on how you can do these tasks faster and more efficiently. Heed them.

While saving a few seconds here or a few minutes there might not seem like much, optimizing your efficiency is definitely something worth doing, especially for tasks you’re doing all the time. The reason is simple: small efficiency gains might seem inconsequential, but they build up and can save you quite a bit of time over time.

How efficient are you at the tasks you do on a regular basis?

How efficient are you at the tasks you do on a regular basis?

So what are some of these routine tasks we’re talking about? Examples might include: changing a memory card or a roll of film, swapping a lens off of your camera, setting up your equipment, punching numbers into a spreadsheet, transferring your images onto a computer, post-processing your photographs, and backing up your files.

Just last week we shared a video in which one photographer showed his strategies for working with photos at a lightning fast pace in Lightroom. Post-processing is an area in which photographers regularly spend large amounts of time, and one in which there are plenty of ways to speed up your workflow.

To understand how much time you can save through small (or large) efficiency gains, check out this handy chart created by Randall Munroe over at XKCD:


The chart simply calculates how much time you save over a span of 5 years by shaving various amounts of time off routine tasks.

Let’s say you shoot photographs every day, and find yourself changing your film or memory card 5 times a day. If you can do each swap 5 seconds faster, then over 5 years you’ll save yourself 12 hours of your life.


How about for post-processing? Suppose you spend 45 minutes post-processing your photographs every day, but you’re unfamiliar with keyboard shortcuts that can save you time. If you just spent a little time learning and practicing those keyboard shortcuts, saving 5 minutes of time every day would save you 6 days of your life over the course of 5 years.

Those are 6 days of your life that you can spend on something else, whether it’s spending time with loved ones, resting, or getting out and shooting more photographs.

Here’s the takeaway: always look for opportunities to be more efficient at what you do in order to save time when doing routine tasks.

This may seem insignificant in the beginning, especially if you’re only saving yourself a few seconds of time, but efficiency will reap big rewards for you in the long run and will help you save your life — literally.

Image credits: Photographer Howard Ignatius captures another killer sunset on Morro Strand State Beach by mikebaird, My desktop, 29-06-10 by Brett Jordan, 031:365 – 05/31/2012 – Post Processing by Shardayyy

  • OR…

    You could just get it right in camera…

  • Neoracer Xox

    I just gotta cut down the amount of time Im on the toilet! Im pretty efficient though I usually do something else whilst Im doin my 2’s

  • Bas ter Beek

    What Is It With These Titles?

  • Carl Viens

    You can’t get *everything* right in camera… Like organize folders, file names, portfolio updates, prepare emails, billing… you know, all the tasks not so related to taking photographs. When I started real estate photography, I needed 1-5 to 2 hours of post/managing time per properties. I’m now down at 15-20 minutes total. I can now do more in a day, meaning more incomes for same effort.

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    Don’t get too crazy about this though. Routine tasks that become second nature eventually become meditative, zen-like and relaxing. This gives you a breather in between more difficult tasks.

    Of course it also makes no sense futzing with a poorly organized bag or giving yourself carpal tunnel syndrome from too much mousing.

  • SpaceMan

    I see what you’re doing, the more time we save the more time we have on Petapixel. Bravo

  • delayedflight

    Lightroom is there for you to add polish not just ‘fix’ your photographs.

  • lol


  • Phase19

    You take perfect photos every time? Lightroom (and other programs) are great for captioning, keywording, sorting, uploading etc. you ever tried doing that from your camera?

  • dslr video studio

    Thanks for sharing, saving time by being more efficient is always beneficial.

  • Mantis

    “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
    ― Ansel Adams