Recorded: Welcome to the ReWork with Allison Tyler Jones, a podcast dedicated to inspiring portrait photographers to uniquely brand, profitably price and confidently sell their best work. Allison has been doing just that for the last 15 years and she’s proven that it’s possible to create unforgettable art and run a portrait business that supports your family and your dreams. All it takes is a little rework. Episodes will include interviews with experts from in and outside of the photo industry, mini workshops, and behind-the-scene secrets that Allison uses in her portrait studio every single day. She will challenge your thinking and inspire your confidence to create a profitable, sustainable portrait business you love through continually refining and reworking your business. Let’s do the ReWork.

Allison Tyler Jones: Do you ever feel like your life is not your own, that you could work 24 hours a day and still not get everything done? I think we’ve all felt like that. And the solution for me has been to focus on finding ways to create space in my schedule, to not book myself back to back to back to back, but to carve out a little space to have life happen, to prepare for life’s emergencies, eventualities, serendipity. And all of this, we’re going to discuss today with Jessica Mackey. She’s in a crazy phase of life, as am I. And I think we’ve all been through the elasticity and craziness of time in the last couple of years. So we’re going to talk about how the things that we’re doing that are helping us create space in our own schedules. And I hope it will be inspiring for you.

Allison Tyler Jones: Hi, friends, and welcome back to the rework. I have Jessica Mackey here with me today.

Jessica Mackey: Hello.

Allison Tyler Jones: I’m so glad you’re here.

Jessica Mackey: Thank you, and thanks for having me.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, we’ve had a lot of conversations lately about our lives and business and how those things collide. And I don’t think that we’re alone in our struggles.

Jessica Mackey: No.

Allison Tyler Jones: So I thought it might be a good idea for us to maybe have that conversation again, about time, how we’re using it, and being able to explore the concept of opening up space in your life to actually allow things to happen, rather than just scheduling every possible second. Because I feel like the world is tired. Like we’re all just tired and barely making it.

Jessica Mackey: Right. And I think I think a lot of people in this industry, because they are working outside or because they do the retouching themselves, and all of these things, like they can just be working 20 hours a day and still feel like they’re not getting enough done. And so we do have a tendency to put a lot on ourselves. And for me, personally, this conversation came up because I decided to get my master’s, which I’m so excited about. I love, love, love it but it’s a lot. On top of work and kids, my oldest graduating and all of that.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. So for those of you who don’t know, maybe haven’t “met” Jessica, you have four children.

Jessica Mackey: Yes.

Allison Tyler Jones: The oldest of those is about to graduate.

Jessica Mackey: He is.

Allison Tyler Jones: And how old’s Kate, your youngest?

Jessica Mackey: So my youngest is 9. And so we are at that phase where it feels like it’s all happening too fast. I just need it to-

Allison Tyler Jones: So, you’ve got elementary, junior high, high school. You’re just spread across all-

Jessica Mackey: Scored all of the things.

Allison Tyler Jones: And then you work for Allison Tyler Jones Photography Studio for about 30-ish hours a week, so.

Jessica Mackey: Yeah. We had to cut back when I started my master’s. But even then, it’s just hard to fit in all of the things and still be the mom and wife and everything that you envision. And so, we got talking, you and I, about the importance of creating space and how sometimes that means thinking outside the box. That as women, specifically, we think we have to do it all ourselves. That I have to be the one to go to the grocery store and buy all the groceries, and plan the meals, and clean the house, and do the laundry and all that kid of stuff. And I have a great team, my husband and kids help but there’s something to be said with outsourcing. And you’re a big fan of outsourcing.

Allison Tyler Jones: I am a big fan. Well, and I know that feeling of you’re at your studio, you’re working and I just think, I’ve felt so many times, I’ve had it run through my mind, I could work 24 hours a day and it still would not be done. And I feel like in the last couple of years, actually I don’t really feel that way anymore, because for the first time I have a team that is so good. Typically, until the last couple of years, I’ve always worked with just like maybe one other person. And then when Ivan came into the business, there would have been three of us and then we would hire some people to help out during the busy season to get us through that. But we were always just to the wall. And so getting a little more, bringing Kaitlyn on this year.

Allison Tyler Jones: But then we also took on The ReWork, this podcast and the education. So now there’s two businesses that are running. And so that’s been… we’re just kind of like, “Ah,” trying to figure it out. But I think I finally learned one thing is just being able to have a good team and to be able to trust somebody else to do something, that has been really, really helpful for me. But now I see you as a younger mom struggling to do everything. So I think a lot of the problems that we come up against when it comes to time management, time in itself… well, actually, just the concept of time management, that we can manage time. It’s a fiction. You can’t. Time is what it is.

Jessica Mackey: Get over it. Yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. And it’s the great leveler, we’ve heard it said. Everybody’s got the same 24 hours in a day. But how we’re using that time and how we think about it, there’s a lot of stories that we’re telling ourselves about that, and especially as women in particular, that there are certain things that we have to do. As post feminists where still there’s a lot of stories, there’s still a lot of things that are running around in our head. That we need to be a good mom, you need to be…

Jessica Mackey: And all of the sporting events, you have to do the bedtime routine and read them five stories, and you have to fix the homemade meal from scratch every day.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, organic, non-GMO.

Jessica Mackey: Yes, yes, and clean the floor on your hands and knees.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, with only a natural toothbrush.

Jessica Mackey: Right.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right, and nothing with bad chemicals in it. Make sure that there’s no bad chemicals. I know. And you laugh at that because you’re a middler mom. You don’t have little tiny kids. So there’s a lot of myths you probably debunked for yourselves but a lot of that stuff lingers. So Jessica and I were having this conversation and she was just like, “I don’t know how I’m going to do it all. I don’t know how I’m going to work” [crosstalk 00:06:52] because she needs to work. Those four kids have got to be paid for somehow. They’ve got to help, right? And so which things are you going to choose? And so we were looking at… What was the book that that story was from? There was a book, and they were talking about… It was some guy, some Himalayan guide was saying, if you want to be successful… Your life is a stove and that there’s four burners. There’s your relationships, your work, your health… What’s the first one?

Jessica Mackey: Is it spirituality or your family? Did you already say family?

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, relationships, health, work… Why am I telling the story when I don’t know the story? Anyway, so they’re like, if you want to be successful, you need to turn off a burner. If you want to be really successful, you need to turn off two. Well, if you’re a mom and a decent person, you’re not going to cash in your kids, working’s a reality and what are you going to give up? So we explore the idea of maybe outsourcing things. In my world, that would be maybe hiring more employees but on a personal level, there are also things that we can outsource.

Jessica Mackey: Like cleaning. You really bullied me into getting a cleaning lady. And it was like this huge weight off my shoulders to be like, “Oh my gosh, my house is going to be clean.” Because I feel like there’s certain things that become these black clouds that just hang over us. And for me, when my house is dirty, when my room is dirty, it feels a little bit like that black cloud. It’s hovering and it’s something I need to pay attention to. I just don’t have time.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.

Jessica Mackey: I don’t have time to get all the things done, and your mental and physical health and everything starts to pay the price when you just don’t have time.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. So when, I think, we get to the point where we’re just up to our eyeballs in everything, we can stop doing something or we can get help. And so I think asking for help is hard. I think not only asking for help is hard, but many of us, many entrepreneurs or solopreneurs, find it really hard to pay for help.

Jessica Mackey: Right. That I can’t afford to.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. And so then my question is that can you afford not to? Because if you can get somebody to help and cleaning your house is just one example. We’re not advocating that this is the solution for everybody. This was just a solution for you at this point in time. But if you know that your house is going to be clean once a week, top to bottom, you’re not having to nag your kids, you’re not having to worry about that. And that frees your mind to work more on your master’s. You become then more valuable or work more hours, you can make more money during that time than you would if you were doing the cleaning yourself.

Jessica Mackey: Or spend time at my kid’s baseball games, which for me is a huge value to be able to do that. But if doing both means that I’m up until 1:00 a.m., that’s just not sustainable.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. And I remember a good friend of mine said she worked as a personal trainer on the North Shore of Chicago when she was in college and she said she worked for this woman who was very wealthy, they had a lot of services. So obviously, she had a personal trainer. But then she also had somebody that was house manager and did her grocery shopping, and all of that sort of thing. And she says she was pretty judgy of this woman like, “Oh, well, it must be nice to be so rich that you could afford to have all of those things.” And she judged her even as a mom like, “”Well, you aren’t cooking, you aren’t really doing all the things.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Then she became a mom herself, my friend, the personal trainer, and she says, “I look back and I realized that woman was genius.” Because obviously, she was in a privileged position, she could afford these services, but what she did with the money that she had is she paid for the admin for somebody to get to Costco, to help cook the food, to run the errands. And this woman used her time to help in her kid’s classroom and go to every sporting event. She was able to cherry pick the things that she really wanted to do to actually be there for her kids, and not just be running around doing all the admin.

Allison Tyler Jones: Now there are those of us who are not independently wealthy, we can’t pay for a million services. But sometimes I think we can afford more things than we think we can. And with the way that the world is now, how connected with technology, we actually can almost have some semblance of those kinds of services that allow us to put space in our calendar and allow us to be more present to do the things we want to do, or just rest.

Jessica Mackey: Well, and as an entrepreneur or solopreneur, you do have a little bit more control over your crisis. So maybe if you’re looking at your life and you’re like, “I can’t sustain this, I’ve got to send all of my stuff to an offsite retoucher, I’ve got to hire a cleaning lady, I’ve got to do all these things so that I can spend time with my family,” well, the solution is to raise your prices. It’s to be able to adjust things to accommodate outsourcing. To accommodate creating a team. And I think for a lot of us, we’ve been raised to think that a team is maybe a business thing. But I think it can be a personal thing too. Like your team is your DoorDasher and whoever it is at Costco delivery and your cleaning lady.

Allison Tyler Jones: Walmart delivery, Instacart

Jessica Mackey: Yes. All the things that help you sustain a healthier lifestyle.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. So if we rewind maybe four or five years ago, that situation was my prices were where they needed to be. I had a sustainable, profitable business. Ivan had come into the business. Again, we were working with, we had one other retoucher. So basically, three of us working in the business. Still, so incredibly busy and especially when it came to the fall season, I would just be like, “How am I going to get all of this done and do Christmas for my family?” which is the challenge every single year. And every year, I’m always trying to hack it and figure out like,” How can I do this and actually enjoy the time?” And so what I found is that, okay, we are having too many people picking up things. People coming in to pick up their holiday cards. That turned into like a nightmare because they-

Jessica Mackey: We had to be there and they’re interrupting.

Allison Tyler Jones: We had to be there. Somebody had to be there to greet them, to give it to them, to him to look at them and then-

Jessica Mackey: They’re coming in the middle of a shoot. They’re, yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right, and sometimes you’re out running errands, you’re not going to come in at an exact time to go pick something up so it was very, very difficult. So I decided, why are we having people come and pick anything up? And especially we’re in a hard place to get to, the parking sucks around our building, so why don’t we just find a courier, a local courier, and we’ll just add it into the price of all the cards and just we’ll courier it to the clients, and then we schedule it and we know when they’re coming. So a courier does come at a set time and then they just deliver it and it’s completely fine. So that service was so great for our clients, because they didn’t necessarily have to be home, the courier could leave it on their doorstep or whatever. We didn’t have to have another appointment. It was just one less thing to make life hard.

Jessica Mackey: Right. And I think that that’s when you look at your life and your schedule, and you’re trying to figure out how to outsource, what you can outsource and what you can afford to outsource, I think there are those things as like you almost have to think outside the box like what are the aspects of my day that are speed bumps or that are preventing me from doing that more important, what’s the good, better, best?

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. For sure.

Jessica Mackey: Yeah, having to wait around for client to come is good, you get to talk to them, you get to see them face to face, or it could be using that time to shoot or sell or…

Allison Tyler Jones: Right, because we know that we’re going to see the client when we deliver and install their work on the wall. But they need their holiday cards before that. That’s the most time-sensitive thing. So we found a local courier and my block for this was I can’t afford a local courier because the courier that we had been using for other things, up until that point, we were using them sporadically, they were really expensive, and they were flaky. And so I just thought I can’t, it’s like 50 bucks or something to courier something. And so Ivan said, “Well, let me look around and see what kind of couriers are out there.” We found this amazing local courier, 15 bucks to go almost anywhere.

Allison Tyler Jones: So I had this mental block that it had to be $50 and it had to be a sucky service. I just hadn’t shopped around because I didn’t even had time to look at it. So Ivan just taking that little bit of time found us an amazing service. They work on an app system. We know when they’ve signed for it. It’s just so good. So that’s not always the case. Sometimes you can’t find it but that really was amazing and it taught me that sometimes we just suffer because that’s what we’ve always done and we’re not just looking and seeing could there be another way? And this thing that I always thought I could never do that or I could never afford that. Well, can you afford not to?

Jessica Mackey: Right, because time moves so fast. And if you’re missing that time with your family, because you’re retouching, well, maybe it’s worth looking into what it would cost to outsource retouching and seeing if you can add that into your price.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.

Jessica Mackey: As an entrepreneur or solopreneur, that’s not out of your pocket. It doesn’t have to be. You can adjust your prices to have your price reflect outsourcing. It should. Like all of your prices should.

Allison Tyler Jones: It should be. So what I typically find is that many photographers are charging a markup on the actual hard materials, but they are failing to factor in their time. And you not only have to factor in your time, but you have to factor in supporting the business as well. So you’re supporting yourself and then you’re also supporting the business, and that all has to be rolled in there. That’s a different conversation, that’s a pricing conversation. But really, the ultimate commodity, I guess you could say, is time. That’s something that we’re never going to get more of. If we’re losing that 24 hours, it just keeps going.

Allison Tyler Jones: And so, the other thought I had too was that I did, probably about three years ago, I found that when I could take Friday off, it made my life so much better. I was so much more efficient during the week and then I really was able to have a really amazing weekend. Because we are very active in our church activities and so on Sundays, that’s not really necessarily a day of rest, so to speak. It’s not Sunday fun day, it’s like Sunday church day, which is also fun and we love it but there’s a lot to do. So we’re not getting like that downtime. So having that Friday allowed me to go if I needed to run errands or do things, I was doing it not on a Saturday.

Jessica Mackey: Right. Get your hair done, get a massage, any kind of self-care items. You had a day to take care of that.

Allison Tyler Jones: Getting your teeth cleaned or whatever. And then now that we have grandkids, I want to spend time with my grandkids, and that’s something that I was not having time to do.

Jessica Mackey: And I think that that’s another thing that photographers run into is feeling like your day has to be booked, especially if your studio, you feel like it has to be one thing after another after another. But that actually is a disservice because like you said, it’s not leaving that time.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. And many times, when you’re looking at a studio calendar, you’re like, “Okay, here’s a shoot, here’s a client.” It’s basically all client meetings but are you putting in time for production? Are you putting time in that if you have employees to meet with the employees? Are you putting time in just leaving like for lunch?

Jessica Mackey: Right. What, you have to eat?

Allison Tyler Jones: I know. Like I wasn’t even putting in time for lunch or time to breathe. And so just building in… Now that that doesn’t mean that with Fridays, I never work a Friday. Of course, I work a Friday but blocking that time off. It was interesting to me how quickly everything shoved to Monday through Thursday because nobody would schedule something on that day, because they knew that I wasn’t going to be there. And then of course, if somebody had to have that date, I could shoot on that date, and it would be fine. But it really taught me that, man, if you just put it in there on the calendar, it really actually gets done or not done.

Jessica Mackey: Where you create that space. Because if you just think that space is going to magically insert itself into your calendar, it’s never going to happen.

Allison Tyler Jones: No.

Jessica Mackey: But it’s like things are going smooth and then there’s a problem with an album or something you have to take care of, and if you’re booked back to back with clients all day, where do you have time to take care of that? Well, then you’re taking care of it during your son’s baseball game instead of being at the… And so it’s like, if you just create that space in your schedule, both personal and professional, then you are available, how is it you say it, to let things happen?

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, it’s just you know that when you’re staring down the barrel of a week, on a Monday, for example, and you’re looking ahead at your week, and you’re seeing what’s on the calendar. We all know, just by experience has taught us, that all that stuff that’s on the calendar, that’s great, it probably will happen, but there’s a whole lot of stuff that’s not on that calendar that’s going to happen. You’re going to get a call from Kate saying that she left her backpack at home and she has a test and you got to go run it to the school. Somebody is going to have… or one of your kids is going to get sick.

Allison Tyler Jones: I mean, oh my gosh, has 2020-2021 taught us nothing? They’re going to be quarantined or a kid gets sick, you get sick, somebody in your family has something that happens. There’s always going to be things. An employee can’t come to work. There’s always going to be emergencies or fires or things that come up and if we don’t have any play in our schedule at all, then you just freak out.

Jessica Mackey: Right. It ups our stress level, exponentially, because there’s no place to put that. “I don’t have time for this.”

Allison Tyler Jones: So, how we’ve worked that out with our schedule is, and I think we’ll do a podcast at some point on the actual technique we use to do our schedule. But one of the things that I really like is we always tend to have Mondays as a production day. And as a general rule, we do not schedule client meetings on that day, so that gives us a day. And that doesn’t mean that we have a meeting every Monday. Sometimes, we do. Sometimes, we don’t. But it’s just a day for everybody to kind of get in, look at what you need to do and kind of get the week started. And you’re not having to immediately start with…

Jessica Mackey: The stress, yeah.

Allison Tyler Jones: … having clients in your face right off the bat.

Jessica Mackey: Yes. It’s like a prep day.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: And I think that on the personal end of things and even professionally, especially if you’re running your own business, one thing that was a game changer for me is you don’t have to have an excuse to say no. So, Allison taught me early on avoid the TMI. You don’t have to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t shoot that day because or Allison can’t shoot that day, because it’s her anniversary, and her and her husband are taking the day off, and dah-dah-dah.” They don’t need to know that. Nobody needs to know that.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. So, TMI is too much information, in case you didn’t get that acronym, but right. And, so that’s a really good, I love that you brought that up, because that was the very first TMI that you did, right?

Jessica Mackey: But you were like, “What did you say? Why would you tell the client that?”

Allison Tyler Jones: I know, so a client called and wanted to book a session on my wedding anniversary. And who cares? They don’t know that. And so, Jessica is like, “Oh, no. That’s Allison and Ivan’s wedding anniversary. And I think they’re going to be doing something that day and so, she can’t book that day.” And so, I’m like, “Okay. TMI, the clients don’t care about us. They don’t care about our anniversary, our lives. All you have to do is just say, ‘I don’t see anything available on the 19th. How does the 20th look?'”

Jessica Mackey: Right. And you don’t have to explain.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.

Jessica Mackey: What do you say about royalty? Don’t complain. Don’t explain. You get it?

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, Queen Elizabeth. Never complain, never explain. Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: And so, and I use it all the time in my personal life, too. If there’s a baby shower that I just look at a Saturday, and I’m like, “I need some time. I need some time in there to get some grocery shopping.” It’s not even that I have anything I need to be at.

Allison Tyler Jones: You just need the mental space to not have to be at something every second of every day.

Jessica Mackey: Yes. And then I need to be able to get all the other admin stuff done. I’ll just be like, “I’m so sorry. I can’t make it. I’ll drop a gift off type thing.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Exactly.

Jessica Mackey: You don’t have to say I can’t make it because it’s my son’s baseball game. And he’s pitchy and I just really feel like I need to be there and he’s graduating. Nobody cares.

Allison Tyler Jones: They don’t care. And the ones that will care in an unhealthy way. The ones that are trying to make you do things, they’re like the teenagers that the more ammunition you give them, the more they argue. They turn into attorneys. They’re like, “Oh, well, didn’t you go to his last three games? Why do you need to be there for that one?” It’s like, “No, no, no, no.” Again, we don’t need to explain. We just say, “Oh, thank you so much for thinking of me. I won’t be able to come but I’ll drop off a gift.” That’s done. Easy done.

Allison Tyler Jones: Another one that I heard that was really good about saying no was I think was from a Tim Ferriss podcast. So, when somebody asks him to do something, he’ll say, “I don’t think I’m going to be able to do it, but if I find that I find space to do it, I’ll let you know.” So, that closes the loop and doesn’t give him a hard no. What do we normally do? “Well, let me get back to you.” And then we have an open loop that we’ve got to remember, then they start nagging you.”

Allison Tyler Jones: So, if you’re like, “It doesn’t look my schedule is going to allow for that right now, but if anything changes, I’ll let you know.” So, it’s a no and then, “I’ll let you know.” So then, if you get somebody that’s really persistent, they might, a few days later or as the time gets closer, they might say, “Hey, did you look at your schedule? Does it look like it’s going to be able to work?” Then what I have to do is just say, “Yeah, it’s not going to work.”

Jessica Mackey: Right. So, it’s like a soft no.

Allison Tyler Jones: It’s a soft no.

Jessica Mackey: And then, it just also kind of puts that off to where it’s like you’ve already said no.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, and you don’t have to even revisit.

Jessica Mackey: Yes.

Allison Tyler Jones: You never have to revisit because you told them you didn’t think it was going to work, but that you would let them know if it worked. Now, you can forget about it.

Jessica Mackey: Right, or if it nags at you and you’re like, “Oh, I really do kind of want to do that. That would be a good experience for me or a good business opportunity,” then you can come back to it. And be like, “Hey, things opened up. It looks like I’m going to be able to do it.” You’ve left that window.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. Yeah, that’s a good point. Because I think sometimes we get so, if we’re pleasers, we want people to approve of us and we want to be seen as being approved of. And so, we’ll say yes, before we really even think about it or we’ve really evaluated it. And then we’re just pissed because we’re like, “Why did I say yes?” I have a T-shirt that I wear to bed every night. It says, “My favorite plans are canceled plans.” Because it’s like I’ll say yes to everything and then I’m like, “Why did I say yes to that?”

Jessica Mackey: And then you’re bitter.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. And that’s not fair to the person that asked you. Anything that you say yes to, I mean, theoretically. If we’re doing this right and living a joyful life that we would like to live, we should be excited that we’re going to do it. So, if that’s your criteria, don’t say yes, unless you’re excited about it, well, it might take you a while to figure out whether you want to be excited about that.

Jessica Mackey: Right. You need to process it.

Allison Tyler Jones: So, “I don’t think I’ll be able to do that. But if anything changes, I’ll let you know.” And then after you slept on it, “Actually, this is going to further my career. It’s going to get me more clients, or it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. Yeah, I am going to do it.”

Jessica Mackey: Well, sometimes, it’s just something that scares you. So, you need a few days to process it to determine like, “Am I just scared? Is it something I shouldn’t be doing?” And so, it’s just nice to have that window. And I think I mean, isn’t it, is it BrenĂ© Brown that talks about setting healthy boundaries. And that goes for clients, that goes for family. And I think it’s hard because, especially on the personal side of things, you’re like, “Well, if I say no, then they’re going to judge me.” Yeah, it’s like.

Allison Tyler Jones: “They won’t like me.”

Jessica Mackey: Yeah, you’re like, “That’s their problem, not yours.” I mean, we just, we assume and we take that on ourselves.

Allison Tyler Jones: So, you hate everybody that’s told you no.

Jessica Mackey: Clearly, yes.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. You know what I mean? That’s what-

Jessica Mackey: Right, right. Who hasn’t shown up to your baby shower.

Allison Tyler Jones: So, anybody that has said no to you, you just categorically hate them, disapprove of them, and you’re judging them forever. Well, if you’re a doormat, if you’ve been rolling over for many years, that might actually be true because you think in your mind that to be nice and to be a good person, you should always say yes.

Allison Tyler Jones: But going back to BrenĂ© Brown, I remember listening to, I don’t know what book it was of hers, but she said in her research that she’d done, that she found that the most compassionate people were actually the ones with the best boundaries and that made her so mad. Because she’s wait a minute, “How can that be true? I am so nice. I say yes to almost everything.”

Jessica Mackey: I’m at everything. I attend all of the showers. I know.

Allison Tyler Jones: And you’re telling me the people that say no are actually more compassionate. No, no, no, no, that doesn’t. So, she reran the research multiple times, because she couldn’t believe that that was correct. But what she realized was that, yeah, when you have boundaries, and you’ve carved out space for yourself, then you have resource. So, that when something happens, you can just roll in and make it happen for somebody.

Allison Tyler Jones: Because you have preserved enough, it’s the old, how many times have we heard the metaphor of the face mask. “Put your mask on before you put your kid’s mask on,” or whatever. But if you have, whether it’s money as a resource, because you’ve made boundaries of pricing yourself right, running a profitable, sustainable business, that when you hear about a client or a client’s friend that has cancer, or that is terminal or whatever, you can roll forward and completely do a session for them with framed art. And the whole thing and do it for free.

Allison Tyler Jones: Because you’ve been priced right all along. You can be more philanthropic and you can give more, because you’ve been charging appropriately, and you have a sustainable business. Same thing with time. If you’ve carved out and said, “Okay, I’m not going to work Fridays,” or “I’m not going to any more do this frivolous thing that this person has been asking me and I’d hate doing it. I don’t want to do it.”

Jessica Mackey: That take me 10 hours to do it.

Allison Tyler Jones: Fill in the blank. Whatever the thing is that you don’t want to do. Now, when somebody asks me to help out with something that really I’m passionate about, that I feel like will really move the needle for my own goals, or a cause that I’m passionate about, then you are able to make that happen. “Let’s go open a soup kitchen. Let’s go open or whatever,” whatever the thing is that you want to do.

Allison Tyler Jones: But if you just piddling it away, everybody that asks something that you’re “Yes, yes, yes, yes.” And you’re going, as Greg McKeown Essentialism says, “You’re making a millimeter of progress in a thousand different directions, you never get to really go deep into something.” And so, I resemble that so much of my own life. I’ve made those same stupid decisions so many times. But as I get older, I realize, no, actually, it’s kinder to just be honest, and say, “Thank you so much for thinking of me. It doesn’t look like it’s going to work for me right now, but I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

Jessica Mackey: Yeah. Because I think you do have to listen to how you feel about something. So someone, if you get an invitation, or you see something, you’re like, “Ugh. I should go to that. I should attend. I should.” That sometimes, we kill ourselves with all the should. Because we’re not leaving that time open for the person who just got into the hospital and you want to be there for them and you want to do this good thing. Well, you can’t because you’re doing all these things you should be doing, that should you?

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.

Jessica Mackey: Do you have to?

Allison Tyler Jones: No. And I also know that I’ve had enough experience in my life to know that it’s amazing how when something really bad hits the fan, how quickly you can clear the decks in and how few things really matter.

Allison Tyler Jones: So, for example, in 2014, my nephew, my sister’s oldest boy was in a horrible accident at the dunes. He rode a quad off of a high, like a 40-ft. embankment that he thought that it was a gradual slope on the other side. But it was what they call a witch’s eye, and he just literally launched 40 ft. off this embankment, and he was paralyzed. And they flew him. We live in the Phoenix area. They flew, life-flighted him to Palm Springs. And so, my sister and her husband went over there and they were over there alone. And this was October 14th.

Jessica Mackey: Right in the middle of the busy season.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yep. And I had shoot scheduled and U&R scheduled, an entire week. I mean, we’re all in the business. We know what that time of year was like. And I literally canceled the entire week and we drove to Palm Springs, and I sat in ICU with her with that boy. And that was one of the most sacred experiences of my life. I would never have missed that for the world. And it was just, it needed to happen. And my clients were awesome about it. It was completely fine. And even when I came back and we had to fit all those things around, it worked.

Jessica Mackey: It worked.

Allison Tyler Jones: And then, coincidentally, in 2019, October 14, there’s something about that day that’s very bad for our family, my sister’s husband, different sister husband just dropped dead of a heart attack in the middle of his-

Jessica Mackey: He did not drop dead.

Allison Tyler Jones: Well, he did. His heart stop.

Jessica Mackey: He did technically, wow.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. And his 13-year-old son was with him. They were changing a tire on a car. He fell over. His eyes rolled back in his head, and he ran, running for my sister, and she came out and was doing compressions and he was unresponsive. And they revived, his heart was beating again, but he had not regained consciousness. So, here she has a 14-year-old, 13-year-old and little kids.

Allison Tyler Jones: All of this stuff happening, again, October 14. Again, I had shoots it was on a Monday, I had back to back shoots that whole day. And like I’m going to go shoot while, that’s not going to happen. So, we literally canceled the whole week. And I went to the hospital and sat until he came around, and luckily, he’s fine and doing well.

Allison Tyler Jones: But the only reason I tell those stories is just that, we’ve all had experiences like that where time stops and you realize what is really important. We’ve all collectively as a globe, as a human family, have been through that during 2020 where we thought, “We’re all going to die,” and many did. And so, we’ve been through this hard time and a scary time. And now, we’re in this, like is there going to be a World War? I mean, there’s really scary things happening all the time and we feel kind of fragile and unprotected.

Allison Tyler Jones: And so, this is kind of a far ranging conversation. But as you and I talked the other day, I just realized that so often we have these scripts of what it is that we have to do? What it is that we should be doing? And that if we could maybe get off the hamster wheel long enough to say, “I need some space in here to just have processing time. I need some space to just be.”

Jessica Mackey: You need some space for the things that you can’t predict. If you didn’t have space, even in the busy season to reschedule those shoots, that would have been bad. You would have killed yourself just trying to make up all that you had missed. And it’s like, I think that we take space for granted. We think busy is best and it’s not. I mean, we do want to be busy, but you have to be smart about it.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. And it’s easy to feel like, “Oh, my business is really successful, because I’m busy.” But if you’re not carving out that profitability, if you’re not being very intentional about how you’re using your time in ways that not only make the business better, but also make your life better. If you’re just giving yourself to where you’re working 24 hours a day or up late retouching or you’re just stuck on a hamster wheel and you feel you can never get off, that just might bear some evaluation. And some different ways of looking, “Could you outsource? Could you have Instacart?”

Allison Tyler Jones: I haven’t been in the grocery store in six years to actually shop for groceries. I mean, Instacart just brings, and it is a little bit more expensive, but not really that much. And when you look at the time that is spent. I can order my groceries as I’m getting ready to leave the studio, and then there’ll be at my house when I get home.

Jessica Mackey: Well, so it’s like 15-minute grocery shopping versus an hour and a half. And that hour and a half is time. Time is money.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. It is.

Jessica Mackey: So, that’s money you could have been making at work had you worked an hour and a half.

Allison Tyler Jones: Or it’s me in my jammies cuddled up in my bed with my husband watching some Netflix something or other.

Jessica Mackey: Instead of having to be at the grocery store. Yes.

Allison Tyler Jones: Right. And so, that’s valuable, too or having my grandbaby swinging her in the backyard in a swing. So, it’s just having a life to where we’re not just, we’re not just all the things that we think we should be doing. But we’re doing the things that we want to be and that we’re able to contribute what we’re uniquely put here to do.

Jessica Mackey: Absolutely. And there’s options. Again, with the research. You’re saying, “Oh, I never afford to Instacart Costco. It’s so expensive.” Well, Instacart-ing fries is a fraction of the price. So, it’s just look at your options. Don’t write off that you can’t afford something. Do the research.

Allison Tyler Jones: Walmart is awesome for that. They actually have really good delivery and it’s super affordable.

Jessica Mackey: It is. It really is.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. And so, and even I was having this conversation with Kathryn Langsford. She won’t mind that I tell the story, but she was talking about an employee that she’s like, “It’s driving me crazy.” Because they’re in downtown Vancouver and they have one parking space that she pays for. It’s $1000 a year.

Jessica Mackey: Oh, my gosh.

Allison Tyler Jones: I know, it’s a lot. So, when they have clients come, then she has an employee go down and move her car, so the client can park at her spot. And then, it’s like this whole musical chairs of a parking. But then the client heard that her employee never has a parking space and is always having to find one and then move it, so that she doesn’t get a ticket. And so, it’s just this whole thing. She’s like, “It’s driving me crazy.” Because all day, she’s worried about the parking. She’s looking at the window to see if the parking person is coming by and all of that.

Allison Tyler Jones: And so, literally, we just had this conversation yesterday, I said, “Why don’t you just buy another parking spot?” She’s like, “They’re $1000 a year.” So, I did math, which you would be proud. I got my calculator. I’m like, “That’s $166.66 a month.” How long is she standing at that window looking out? How much time is it taking for her to move everybody? If she didn’t have to worry about that, would that be worth $166? Because that’s like a gym membership or a nice gym. But so and it’s your business.

Allison Tyler Jones: And she’s like, “I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about that.” But I do that kind of stuff all the time because you think you’re tripping over. It’s like my old business partner used to say, “You’re tripping over dollars to pick up dimes.” You’re trying to pick up this penny, but you just tripped over a bucket of gold bullion. So, you’re letting that employee waste all this time where you’re having her go and run around the city in your car, so you can have your client park there, when you could just have another parking space.

Jessica Mackey: Right. But until you take the time to break that down and figure out what that would be a month, what it would be a day, you start to realize, “Wow. Okay, that’s not what I thought.”

Allison Tyler Jones: That’s less than your Starbucks habit, for sure, way less. And some of these things that we’re suggesting that we’re talking about, I realize are privileged problems to have. They are first world problems. There’s no question. But wherever you are in your business, whether you’re new, starting out, have employees, don’t have employees, the overriding message that I would for you to take away from this and what the conversation that Jessica and I have had. Because Jessica is a younger mom, her husband is newer in his career, right?

Jessica Mackey: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Allison Tyler Jones: So, you guys are still coming along. And so, we can’t all afford the same things, but we can do some things. And sometimes, it just takes putting your mind there and saying, “I need this time.”

Jessica Mackey: Yeah. And what would it look to make this happen?

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. How can I…

Jessica Mackey: So yeah, if I-

Allison Tyler Jones: … even that, I would never.

Jessica Mackey: Exactly. And people would judge me. Forget people. It’s not about them, It’s about you. And it’s about creating the lifestyle that you want. And so, if I want to do a cleaning lady, what is that going to look like? Does that mean that we just have canes a little less often? Problem solved. So, there’s usually a way. And because at the end, the most important thing is the time that we’re spending with the people we love. And if we’re not getting enough of that, we need to look for ways.

Allison Tyler Jones: And if we are selling in our business, we are basically creating the documentation of those relationships. And the beauty of that relationship. That’s really at the core kind of what we’re all about anyway is we love our families. And we love to document families and we love relationships between people. And so, how can we get more of that and quit telling ourselves things that we can’t do or painting ourselves into corners that we don’t need to be in.

Jessica Mackey: Right. It’s like we always say don’t tell a client, “No.” What you say is, “Well, what I can do?” So, when you’re looking at your own schedule, it’s like, “No, I could never. Well, what I can do.”

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. I may not be able to afford a cleaning lady, but what I can do is, I don’t know.

Jessica Mackey: Pay your kids to do it. It’s a fraction of the price and that they want the money. So, there’s ways.

Allison Tyler Jones: There’s that. Asking for help, finding help, paying for help. There’s always a way and then just carving out some space for yourself. So, we just want to encourage anybody listening to this, that we believe in you. We know that it’s been hard for the last few years if you’re a mother. Yeah, it’s been really hard. If you have school-aged kids, really, really hard.

Jessica Mackey: Sending lots of love, of course.

Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. We’re sending you lots of love. And we just wanted this to be encouraging. If you needed a permission slip to have your groceries delivered or a cleaning lady, I just signed it.

Jessica Mackey: Or to say no.

Allison Tyler Jones: I just signed it, or just say no, yes. We just signed your permission slip and Jessica signed it. You have two signatures on your permission slip. Go say no and take a nap.

Jessica Mackey: Create the space you need for all of those things.

Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly. Thanks.

Jessica Mackey: Thanks.

Allison Tyler Jones: Do you know someone who would really benefit from this episode of The ReWork? Maybe a fellow photographer, who’s in the trenches with you and always looking to level up their biz or perhaps you have a friend who is struggling to make their business work, I would be so grateful if you would share this episode with them. All you have to do is head to the platform where you’re listening, click the Share icon, and text it or email it to the person that you think could need it most. Thank you so much for doing that. And while you’re there, if you have a chance and can give us a review, it would mean the world. We are a micro tiny podcast and we’re trying to get the word out to as many portrait photographers as possible to help them build better businesses and better lives for their family. And if you would help us do that, it would mean the world. Thank you so much. And we’ll see you next time on The ReWork.

Recorded: You can find more great resources from Allison at and on Instagram @do.the.rework.

Share This Post