Beside my desk, I have a “To-Do” list. It’s on a 5X8 yellow pad with 25 lines per page. My list of things to do today encompass six pages. Some of the items are very important (shipping orders). Others, not so much (test a new forthcoming paper for the manufacturer). The other hundred-plus items lay in between.

After a deep sigh and a swig of coffee, I ponder my options:

  1. Say, “Screw it,” grab the camera bag and tripod and hit the road (what I’d really like to do).
  1. Pick a fun, choice project and run with it
  1. Delegate tasks to… oh yeah, I have no one to delegate to.
  1. Attack the list and get done what I can.
  1. Prioritize and methodically whittle the items on the list.

The first three would be grand, but I’ll end up paying for it in the end. Number four, well that’s what I used to always do: Work hours on end like a mad man, running down the list, crossing off projects with a red marker as I went.

Now, I’ve learned to prioritize and combine tasks to streamline my time. And while I may still seem like a one-armed, wall paper hanger at times, at least I’m not pulling my hair out in fist-fulls.

Before I started prioritizing my lists, I felt like I never got anything done. My shooting schedule became erratic, important projects (like updating images on my Web Site) were continually placed on the back burner and I was always exhausted. Probably because I never really slept, but napped a few hours at night.

For today, I have six pieces to ship, four canvas giclees to print and a stack or prints to mat and mount. There are nearly 700 images to download from last night’s shoot, and they need to be sorted, tagged and key worded so I can send them to the copyright office. I have to layout a new brochure and upload it to the printer. There’s a meeting with my accountant at 2PM and I want to shoot a sunset at Ulua Beach. Time to divide and conquer.

I load a roll of canvas into the Canon iPF8300 and open the four images to print into the RIP program and bring the print heads to life. As the canvas starts to flow out of the printer, I load my CF cards into the reader and start the download to the “NEW IMAGES” file. While the two tasks are running, I start matting and mounting prints.

The printer finishes the job as I place the last print into the plastic sleeve. I cut off the canvas and put the prints on the drying rack to cure overnight.

Back in the studio, there’s another four minutes left on the download, so I now I have to make a decision: I can start tagging/sorting/key wording the new images or I can build the brochure. I’ve needed a new brochure for several months, as the photos on the current one are stale, and the images I have in mind for the new version are much more vibrant and eye-catching. Besides, the new images are less than a day old and for new stock, so I can put them off for a day.

I open Adobe Illustrator and start designing, adding text and images. An hour and a half later, I’m done and just in time to meet with our accountant. Our chat runs a bit longer than expected, but I have enough time to drive back to the studio and prep cameras and gear before setting out for tonight’s sunset shoot. I grab the parcels to be dropped off at UPS and head out the door

Driving down Haleakala Highway, I recap the day and marvel on how I’ve become a human octopus, getting a lot done in eight hours of time, and not feeling rushed or freaked out about getting things done. I pull into the UPS depot, hand the packages to my friend, Malia, and head out on the Mokulele Highway towards Kihei and cruise down to Ulua Beach in Wailea.

I’ve got nearly an hour before the sun dips below the horizon, so I explore potential places to shoot, watching the water current and keeping an eye on the great gaseous orb in the sky. I find the right spot, with good water motion, some lava rocks to add contrast and foreground content and the sun falling over the island of Kaho’olawe. I relax on the sand, marveling at the beauty before me. My to-do list has had a huge chunk carved out of it, and what’s left is not immediately time sensitive. I afford to let my mind flow free and get in rhythm with the waves.

The sun dips down behind a cloud and I start shooting. The waves gently wash up the shore, kissing the lava. With God light spilling down from the clouds to the water, the magic of the moment happens and the shutter clicks away.

I could be back in my studio slaving away, fretting and working up the blood pressure. But no, I’m enjoying the scene spread before me, watching Mother Nature do her magic. My eight arms, now reduced to two.