Ep #289: How to Stop Burning Time & Energy in Your Business with Desi Creswell

The Design You Podcast Tobi Fairley | How to Stop Burning Time & Energy in Your Business with Desi Creswell

If you’re an interior designer or any kind of creative entrepreneur and you feel like you’ve got way too much on your plate, this episode is for you. My guest today has been where you are, but she changed course and now runs a successful business from a beautifully clear headspace, and she’s here to share how to find where your time and energy are going to waste in your business.

Desi Creswell helps interior designers build thriving business without stress and overwhelm. She’s a Master Certified life and business coach. Desi worked in commercial interior design before starting her own residential practice, feeling overworked, perfectionistic, and anxious. But now, she’s plugged her time and energy leaks, and she’s become the coach she wishes she could have hired all those years ago.

Tune in this week to discover where the time and energy leaks are in your business. Desi is sharing how to see where you’re overdoing, overthinking, or indulging in any form of ‘overing’ without achieving anything, and we’re discussing how to plug the time and energy leaks in your business by letting things be good enough and trusting yourself in the process.


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What You'll Learn From This Episode

  • Where the biggest time and energy leaks are in most design businesses.
  • How it’s our thoughts and mindset that present the biggest problems to entrepreneurs.
  • Why developing a better mindset isn’t about making one simple change in your life.
  • How to start developing a toolkit you can dip into when you need to support yourself through overwhelm.
  • Why “overing” is a massive problem for creative entrepreneurs.
  • The art of letting things be good enough.
  • How to stop getting caught up in the to-do list shuffle so you can start getting things done.

Featured On The Show

Full Episode Transcript

You are listening to The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 289.

Welcome to The Design You Podcast. A show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth and joy, here’s your host, Tobi Fairley.

Hey, friends, happy fall. I love fall. I can never tell you enough how much I love fall. I’m so happy. It’s going to be 60 for a high this weekend. I’m going to be in West Arkansas visiting my daughter. And 38 for the low a couple of nights, there’s some bonfires in my future, life is so good. And it just makes me in a good mood when I’m not hot. And that’s not just because I’m 51. I’ve always hated hot weather. Well, I don’t know, hate’s a strong word, but I’ve always preferred cool weather my whole life. And nothing has changed. It’s still true for me. I’m a sweater weather kind of girl.

So in a good mood around here. I’m also in a good mood because I’m excited about today’s episode. I have Desi Creswell today and I’ve known Desi for a little while because we’re both Master Certified life coaches from The Life Coach School. And she has been working in the interior design industry for a while, helping interior designers build thriving businesses without stress and overwhelm. And she has some amazing nuggets for you today and they’re very relevant. If you’re currently taking my social media three part workshop, it’s relevant.

You’re going to hear us basically talking about you today. Pretty much everything we talk about in this episode, you’re going to feel like we’re speaking directly to you. So you’re welcome. Don’t you love that when I’m talking to you on a podcast and we’re like, “How does she know? Is she looking over my shoulder?” So this is one of those episodes. It’s going to feel like I’m looking over your shoulder but it’s a good one. It’s going to help you. You’re going to add some tools to your toolbox and I think you’re going to love it. So here’s my interview with Desi Creswell.

Tobi: Hey, Desi, welcome to The Design You Podcast. It’s kind of been a minute since we started talking about having you join and finally here you are, so welcome.

Desi Creswell: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.

Tobi: Well, we have a couple of things, well, yeah, a couple things in common. We both were in the interior design business. You don’t practice design anymore but you definitely did. And the other thing that we really have in common is that we both are life coaches, have trainings from The Life Coach School and kind of have the same approach to a lot of our thoughts about all kinds of things, from productivity to just mindset in general.

And I know that’s going to be a fun way for us to connect today. But besides that or to elaborate on that, why don’t you take a minute and tell everybody a little bit about who you are, what they need to know, why they should listen to you. And then we’re going to get into some really good conversation that they’re going to love. That’s probably going to hit pretty close to home for a lot of our listeners today for sure.

Desi: Alright, well, yeah, I’d love to share a little bit about me. I’m Desi Creswell. I’m a Master Certified life and business coach through The Life Coach School, as is Tobi. And I’m a former interior designer. That’s definitely of relevance. I worked in commercial interior design and also then started my own residential practice, was heavily involved in the design community with ASID.

And really what brought me to life coaching was feeling like I just was so stretched thin, not doing anything to the level that I wanted to be doing it to, which, hello perfectionism. But also just putting way too much on my plate in terms of my capacity. And feeling like, okay, so I’m either going to just quit all of this or I’ve got to figure out a better way to do my business because what I’m doing right now is definitely not working. And that’s really what brought me to life coaching and the mindset work.

And what I saw was when I worked through some of the mindset blocks and things that were holding myself back, that’s when things were really able to change because I’d taken courses that I’d seen. And back when I was running my interior design practice, we didn’t have all of the resources like we do now, but definitely I was dabbling. I was looking at blogs but wasn’t doing the things that they told me to do that would make things better. And so that’s where I really saw, I have to switch the way that I’m thinking and feeling and learn to manage that as well as managing my business.

And that’s really what was the seed of an idea for my interior design coaching practice where I now work with designers on all of the things that I really struggled with and found solutions for. And really I’d say I’m the coach I wish I could have hired way back then.

Tobi: Yeah, it’s great. The thing I’m thinking about as you were talking because I firmly believe in all of the mindset work, And do you think that most of the time it’s our thinking that’s getting in the way, not usually really the ‘terrible client’ or the supply chain or all the things? I mean those things are painful and they are real. But I do want to kind of say, as you’re talking, one of the things that comes up is for coaches like you and me, I think it’s easy for us to say, “Just do this thing or just do this other thing and your problems will be fixed.”

And I want to start this whole podcast by saying, let’s be honest, this is a really hard industry. People don’t have a clue how hard this industry is. And yes, you can absolutely find relief with a lot of the things we’re telling you. But you are still going to have sofas coming in broken. You are still going to sometimes have clients who don’t want to pay your bills or times when you can’t find a client.

And so I want to make sure that we never gaslight our listeners into thinking, if you just do these three simple things you will completely have all the freedom and all the amazing, dreamy design practice, because life is still going to life. It’s still going to be hard all the time.

Desi: Yeah. And I think that’s why the mindset and emotional resilience tools are so important, because life is absolutely going to life, whether it’s your personal life or things happening in your clients lives or in your business. And so then it’s like, well, these are things that are just going to happen. We’re going to hit the bumps in the road. How do we show up for ourselves and for the other people that we interact with in a way that makes that smoother for us and less simple?

Tobi: Yes. So it’s not about a miraculous one time fix and then you never have these problems again. It’s building a toolkit that you can dip into just like we would need a tool to fix something or hang a piece of art on the wall. You need to build your toolkit so you can pull these tools back out time and again because the thing’s going to keep happening. But you’re just going to get better and better and more and more resilient at using these tools like the ones we’re going to talk about today.

So when those things do come up, you are better able to adapt, adjust, deal with all the things that are going to happen, right?

Desi: Yeah, you ride the waves.

Tobi: Awesome, okay. So you sent me over some things, we’ve been talking for a long time about getting you on the podcast and just both had busy schedules and things. But you sent me over some things that you thought were really relevant to the people you coach. And there were a couple that really stood out to me that I know the people I coach, the people in my programs, the people that listen to the podcast, the people I just interact with and run into and friends of mine deal with all of the time.

And I want to start with this topic, well, the topic that you proposed it as, which I think is so amazing is time and energy leaks, dealing with time and energy leaks. And there’s one particular thing you’re going to get into that I can’t wait for people to hear because it’s so true. We are our own worst enemy. We think that something’s happening or we must not know the right way to do something. I hear people all the time come to me and say, “If I could just be more efficient with this thing.” And they think that it’s something outside of them that is the problem.

Desi: Just give me the five step process and all will be right in the world.

Tobi: Yeah, I can plug all those leaks if you tell me those things to do. Except they’re always shocked when we turn around and tell them is, it has something to do with how they’re thinking or acting or that think, feel, do cycle.

Desi: I just have to say. I hope all of your listeners know that’s the best news ever, that it starts with you.

Tobi: Exactly, because you control that, right?

Desi: So if anyone’s feeling disappointed, yeah, then you can actually do something about it.

Tobi: I absolutely agree. A lot of people don’t. They’re like, “Are you kidding, more work on me?” But I always want the solution to be me because I can be in charge of my own destiny if it involves me changing myself. If it involves me changing somebody else, never going to happen.
So I love that you pointed that out. Okay, so let’s get into this. What are the time and energy leaks that most designers are dealing with that they may not know they’re dealing with?
What’s really going on there when we’re constantly feeling like we can’t keep up and our to-do list just keeps growing? And we never get, I mean just yesterday I had so many things planned for the day and I got 30% of them done. So, tell us what is happening there in the time and energy leaks.

Desi: Yeah, okay. So as always, I love to look at this from multiple perspectives, both the mindset and the strategy. I mean with the to-do list there that you just mentioned. I would want to dive into what is your actual capacity and why there’s so many, why you planned for so many things. Where did that come from? But also I think one of the things that I thought would be really interesting to talk about today is this idea of overing. And this is just a word that I made up. I make up words. I’m sure you do too.

I did a podcast on this concept of latering, putting things off till later on my own show and everyone loved that. And I was thinking about just this overing that shows up for me still sometimes where I notice deeper and deeper layers of it, but also with my clients. And I’ll give you some examples of what that sounds like but it could be overthinking, over-deciding, over-perfecting, over-actioning.

They’re things that we’re doing and well, I’ll use the word ‘excessive’, because sometimes it actually feels excessive in our own bodies I think too when we’re overthinking. It feels almost like we can’t escape ourselves. And that is really a huge time and energy leak that I see for clients because there’s actual time involved. So if you’re hopping between decisions or you have those moments of, I’m fully convicted, this is absolutely what I’m doing. And then five minutes later, you’re like, “No, this is what I am doing.”

Or maybe you’ve even gone down a rabbit hole and started to implement something and then you switch course. So just the time you take out of your day redoing things or spending time staring at your computer, thinking through something multiple times without getting anywhere. But then also there’s the exhaustion that just comes from that mental looping as well.

Where you could solve for the mental looping and still get the same amount done but be way less exhausted or still have the same number of commitments and have a much more pleasant experience throughout your day. So that was what I thought would be really interesting for us to talk about today.

Tobi: I agree. And the thing that’s coming to mind, so I’m teaching a workshop on social media right now. And I know one of the things that people think they never have time for is the marketing and the social media and the stuff that people end up believing should fit around the fringes of their day. The main part of their day is doing their ‘real job’. And then I’ll fit all these other things in the fringes which never fit.

But when we really peel back and look at what people are dealing with when it comes to social media, it’s not that they didn’t have time to make a reel or a post, which really in and of itself only takes a few minutes. But I mean, yeah, a reel could take you a little while. It could take 30 minutes. It could take an hour. But most people don’t even have that. It’s the overthinking, the worrying, the self-judgment, the, is this right? What should I be doing?

Has this already been done? Is this going to look stupid? Am I going to look stupid? How does my hair look like? It’s all of that that becomes the reason that they don’t ever post something on social media. So that’s what you’re talking about. That’s all the overing. You put all that in the overing bucket because taking the actual action of the thing we need to do would take a really short amount of time.

Making the decision to do the thing that we’re going to do takes a short amount of time, but it’s all the rest of what you’re talking about that takes hours and hours and hours and exhausts and drains us, right?

Desi: Yeah. And I think what’s so interesting about that example is if we were to do a side by side time comparison. We’d probably see that the time log for the amount of overing that’s being done actually exceeds the amount of time that it would take to just put up the post.

Tobi: I’m sure it would far exceed. I would think that if you took all of the overing you’re doing just around whether or not to post something, a reel or something that you don’t feel comfortable doing, you could probably do a week’s worth of posts in the amount of time that you’re overing, maybe even in just one day. To think about what you’re going to do or should you do it or when are you going to do it, all those things.

Desi: Yeah, I know. And so I would love for your listeners to just even, both of us always think awareness is the first step. We have to be aware that we’re even doing it. I think it could be so fascinating for your listeners to start thinking and watching for, where am I overing? What flavor of overing do I tend to indulge in? Are there certain tasks? Are there certain clients that the overing happens more with, certain even times of day?

And start to get curious really about what is one layer deeper, what is really going on there? And then we can deal with that because that’s the real issue that we want to solve for, not the Instagram reel.

Tobi: I love that and I love when you said what flavor of overing. I love that. I think that’s important because early on you said there’s overthinking, there’s over-deciding, there’s over-perfecting, there’s over-actioning. And those are all different things. And it’s not all just one thing that you’re doing. Some people, I’m guessing, that you’re assuming, I would be assuming too, some people just overthink all the time and never take an action.

Some people overthink for a while and then start taking an action and then start over-perfecting the thing and never put it out. Because they’re like, “It’s not quite right and the lighting’s not done. And let me do 47 takes of me saying that one thing.” Instead of just using the first one and believing it’s good enough. So there’s different layers to the overing. And so if they can start to say, I think what you’re saying is, am I just overthinking all afternoon or did I start taking some action but then redo the thing 75 times?

And then did I edit the video over and over again or try seven different filters and wasn’t happy with them so I just said, “Forget it, I’m not posting that.” Or they’re just saying, “Over-actioning to me would be something like trying to do 30 days of posts instead of just one or two days of posts and letting that be good enough and let it evolve.” Some of us will be like “No, I’ve got to do 30 full days and have them all in the hopper before I post the first thing.” Am I getting that right, is that what you’re thinking?

Desi: Yes, absolutely. And I think you bring up a really interesting point with the 30 days of posts. That’s got a little flavor of over-perfecting. I’m either going to do it or I’m not going to do it. And I’ve got to do it this exact way or it doesn’t count and it’s not worth it. And then there’s probably some over-judging too. That was one you identified where it’s like, well, if I don’t do it this way, then I’m not officially consistent with my social media. Or all these different stories or things that we make it mean about ourselves when it’s just a post. Which I mean I can say, “It’s just a post.” I get it.

It doesn’t feel like just a post. But when we look at, okay, what is the background noise that’s happening here? And separate that out from these pixels on a screen that has an image of your work.

Tobi: Yeah, or your face or you talking or something.

Desi: Or your face or whatever it is, there’s so much there for us to uncover. And what I love about even just the Instagram example is for sure, if that’s happening in Instagram, it’s going to be happening in other areas of your business as well. And so you can coach on the Instagram piece and look at what’s going on and then start to apply that awareness and those learnings and the different types of responding to yourself when you notice the overing in different areas of your business.

Tobi: Well, yeah, that brings up a good point because I think there’s that saying, the way you do one thing is the way you do everything. I don’t know if that’s totally 100% true, but it definitely is, there’s some clues that come from one part of our life to the others, for sure. Success or our lack of success probably both leave clues.

But when you were saying that I was thinking, the person who may make themselves take 70 takes or even just seven of a video is also the person that when they’re selecting a room they’re like, “Well, I already made a lot of choices and they look great. But what if, what if there’s another fabric that would be better on the pillow? Or what if there’s a different refrigerator I’d put in the kitchen? Or what if, I just want to go see what else is out there and let me spend some more time and perfect it and pull some other things.”

And kind of stew on it and worry about it for days instead of just landing on a decision. Those are similar behaviors, that’s coming from the same thing probably, the same thought of needing to get something just right or just so or fear of being judged, fear of rejection, all of those same things, right?

Desi: For sure. And I think it’s interesting how you pulled that thread out of how it can show up in so many different areas. Because I’m even thinking about, alright, so the designer who is pulling so many options. And then they show up at the meeting with too many options, the client is confused. They don’t know what to choose. It’s impacting the client experience that you’re creating for your clients. And then also the profitability of your business too because typically what I see is when people are stuck in overing then they don’t want to charge the client for their overing.

Tobi: Right. That’s good. Yeah.

Desi: And so then, and then they end up taking it off the invoice. And then they’re mad at themselves for doing it. They’re resentful at the client for doing it and the bank account isn’t as high as they want it to be.

Tobi: That is a huge aha for me because I coach people every day and I know you do too about not lopping those hours off their bill. But I haven’t made the connection of what are all those hours and could they have been avoided? Were they you just overing, were they you not making a decision, were they you not believing that the choice you made the first time was not good enough? Because so often we come back to the first choice anyway.

The rest of the stuff in the middle was just a waste. And it was coming from our thoughts about is this really good enough. That’s good. That’s really good.

Desi: Yeah. And I think that really is often the root of overing is lack of self-trust of either trusting your design instincts, your gut instincts, your experience. Just even trusting yourself then to figure it out. Let’s say you take it to the client and they don’t like it.
Well, now you know they don’t like it. So can you figure that out? Of course you can figure that out. And so having that self-trust around, I’m going to figure this out no matter what.

Tobi: Yeah. So good. Be willing to let the client give you feedback before you pull seven other options because you might have needed zero other options because they may have loved the first thing. And that goes to that like we’ve talked about a little bit, that fear of rejection, that not wanting to look stupid, wanting to be liked. All the things that we’re wired for. We are wired that way. We wanted to be in the club or the tribe to stay alive back millions of years ago, but we don’t need that anymore. It’s okay to get feedback from a client and then go pick another solution instead of overing.

Desi: Yeah. And this all directly ties to time management.

Tobi: Right, yeah, totally. Those are both time and energy leaks.

Desi: Yeah, exactly. And when you find yourself, the way that I teach time management is not a strict adherence to you need to do things in 15 minutes. And if you didn’t finish it in 15 minutes, then you’ve failed for the day or anything like that. But we do want to take a look at how we’re spending our time, make conscious decisions ahead of time about how we spend our time.

And a lot of times when the overing is showing up, the end results or the thing that you really end up seeing is a time management issue where you’re feeling completely stretched. Then you’re working late hours. And it all starts with the overing.

Tobi: I was thinking earlier when we were starting to talk about how much time you would spend overing compared to posting on social media. I was thinking, if it were me, and a lot of people don’t like to think about their time and they feel trapped, if they’re talking about time blocking. I do love time blocking. And I’m like you, I’m not rigid. But I do like to put some blocks on the calendar so I know if I’m being realistic about how much I can do in a day. But wouldn’t it be fun, if it were me having used this system for so many years and not kind of being afraid of it.

If I thought I was overing, I might go put some overing blocks on my day, a couple of them, maybe even two 30 minutes or two hours. and then come back at the end of the day and go “Was that accurate? Did I only spend an hour overing?” Because if you’re starting to pay attention that way, I think you’d be more aware of when you were doing it. And then you’d think, oh my gosh, no, I spent from 1:30 to 4:00, just overing about that one thing.

And so it would start to help you get some perspective of how much you’re really doing this and if you’re doing it every day. Wouldn’t that be fun to be like, how many? Because how I force myself to put blocks in that say rest or don’t work after this time to help me stop a habit I don’t like. That would be so interesting to [crosstalk].

Desi: That would be fascinating. Yes, or even schedule your overing time.

Tobi: Yes. I get to overthink about this from 2:00 to 3:00 this afternoon, but I can’t do it right now, right?

Desi: I’m taking action right now. I am working towards finishing this project or working on this goal and I will worry, I will overthink. I will do all of that later today. I know that I have time to do that because I planned for it.

Tobi: That is so good. Well, yeah, and at the very least, even if you didn’t adhere to it you would be aware. When you do something like that, I watch myself sometimes cheat the system and I’m like, “Well, I know I’m not supposed to be overing till three o’clock this afternoon, but screw it, I’m going to over right now because I feel like it. And that rebel will come out of me but at least I’ll be more aware that I’m doing it. And the more aware you are, of course, the more you can stop. So this is so good.

Another thing that you had mentioned to me that you thought people struggle with and it’s very related. And so I think we should talk about it, is what you call the to-do list shuffle or why you keep moving things on your list. And again, I’m not super rigid. I do let myself move things at times or sometimes based on how I feel. I’m not going to make myself miserable and be like, “You can’t move anything.”

Desi: Absolutely not.

Tobi: But some people keep moving things and keep moving things and keep moving things to the detriment of their business, their profits. They’re letting themselves or clients down, they’re adding more stress. They’re not, all the things. So talk to me about that. What’s happening there when we’re constantly doing this shuffling of our to-do list?

Desi: There can be so many things going on. And it’s similar to the overing in that we would need to look and see what is driving these behaviors. Meaning the thoughts and feelings that drive the behaviors and the actions. And it can also be just straight up you’re planning for too much during the day. I use the calendar very similarly to you, Tobi, where it’s a reality check for me because I always think that I can do way more than I actually can in the time that I have. So it’s a reality check first and foremost.

But then there’s the kind of, okay, so if I’m consistently not doing this thing and it always is a later thing. Why? Is it because there is some overthinking, some overing happening? Is it because we’re worried about making right or wrong decisions? Often I see clients doing the to-do list shuffle when things are too vague. That’s a big one, where they’ll put something on their to-do list like create onboarding system or something huge and vague. And you’re never going to get that done in one sitting.

Tobi: Write all the copy for my new website for an hour on Friday.

Desi: Yes. Or we were talking about the social media, 30 social media posts all at once. I mean, I don’t have that stamina. I don’t think a lot of people do. And that’s one of the things that I really teach with time management is we have to break things down into mini results. Where there’s these little chunks of results that usually can be completed within 15 to 60 minutes increments of time that are very clear. They’re very specific.

And so that way you can actually fold them into your day and make them happen because we’re probably not going to have a week where we can just go run away and hide from everyone. I mean maybe if you want to use your vacation that way. I know I don’t. But then okay, so it’s very clear, it’s, I need to create a rough draft of the About section on my website. And then on another day I’m going to edit that About section and then I’m going to do a different section.
And this is how we can actually get the things on the to-do list and keep them there so you know what to do, how to do it. It’s very clear and specific for you.

Tobi: I feel like it’s so kind when I do that to myself too. Because when I come to the next thing I’m supposed to do and it feels doable and I feel like I’ve allowed myself enough time and I’m not having to be in a race against the clock that whole hour, which is what I did yesterday to myself. And occasionally it does creep back up, even those of us who do this all time.

But yeah, so in particular, yesterday, I have a new team member and I forget sometimes how much time it takes to train somebody on something. So I should have allowed four times the amount of time. And I’m like, “We’ll clip through this, this, and this.” And then I’m like, “Oh, yeah, it’s coming back to me now that this takes way longer than I thought.” I’ve got to go back to square one and start at the beginning. And so when that happens, that’s frustrating.

But when I get to a block and I’m like, “I have the entire day just to teach her these three things.” That would feel so amazing. That would feel, I’d feel like a success at the end of the day, not a failure. And I think so often we feel like failures because we’re getting a lot done and yet we still don’t get near what we said we were going to do and we hold that against ourselves.

Desi: Yeah. And I think that’s why planning for reality is so important. And planning how you want yourself to be set up in the future. So yes, you could use a bunch of willpower and grit and grind through a very tight schedule for a few days probably. But that’s not ultimately how you want to work or how you want to space timelines or how you want to on-board team members in totality. And so when we start planning realistically and how we want to be planning sustainably, over the long run. Then we actually start adjusting timelines so that they work for us, as opposed to we’re racing against the clock.

Tobi: Yeah. So two things are coming up. One that I think is a simpler answer and then we’ll tackle the other one is one thing I do notice sometimes that people shuffle things on their to-do list just because they don’t like the thing. And so sometimes it’s very obvious of, I hate doing my financials or billing, so I just keep putting it off. But sometimes, I remember one time coaching a designer on the fact that she kept not finishing this workout space. And she’s like, “Why do I keep moving that thing?” And I’m like, “Do you like that work? Are you inspired by it?”

And she’s like, “No, I hate it.” And I’m like, “Could you just go hire a company that does work out rooms and pass that through or something?” And she’s like, “Oh, my God, yes. And why didn’t I think of that earlier and why didn’t I just bring that person in and charge for it at the beginning?” And I’m like, “Well, you can do that next time.” But noticing that you keep putting this thing off. So if it’s something we have to, so that you could outsource.

Getting help with your financials, of course you could hire a bookkeeper, an accountant, a CFO, all those things and I recommend people do that. But there are still some things that we have to do that we don’t like to do. So what happens if that’s the thing that we just keep moving on the to-do list, how do we buckle down and do the thing that we hate?

Desi: Yes, okay. So what I love to do and I have an episode if this is a specific issue for any of your listeners on how to generate that internal motivation on my own podcast. But I like to tap into why I actually do want to do the thing. My brain’s going to be really loud and screaming at why it’s going to be a pain. I don’t want to do it. I don’t have time, all the things. But then I like to switch it and say, “Why do I want to do this? Why would I want to send out invoices? I get paid. Isn’t that lovely?”

Tobi: And yesterday I was complaining about how we weren’t going to make payroll or I was working too hard for too little money.

Desi: Yes, maybe I do actually want to do this. Or generating interest for yourself, where can you find curiosity? So maybe it’s even a thing you’re doing for the client. And you’re kind of bored by the design or something like that. But maybe there is something that you could find a little bit of interest, a little bit of curiosity, maybe slide something in that’s a little unexpected for what they’re asking for.

You kind of have to work with your brain and think of, how am I going to create this excitement, motivation, interest internally? Because it’s probably not going to just arrive on its own. and it’s one of those things too where you can take then responsibility, this is within my control and I can create this experience for myself.

Tobi: I love that. And I think one of the things I hear people complain about the most that are designers and creatives is I never have time to be creative. And what you’re saying on, if you’re bored with the design, tap into your creativity, get excited about it, make it something that you want to do. And I think maybe a lot of times the reason we don’t do that is because we don’t feel like we have the time or the space.

So back to your point of being realistic about how long something takes. If you know you’re bored with something, maybe give yourself two hours instead of one hour and have fun dipping into being creative about the thing, right?

Desi: Yeah, I actually have a client right now, she’s working on her schedule. And every Friday there’s an hour block of time set aside for her to source new product, learn about new lines. To keep those creative ideas flowing because it is easy to get stuck in the day-to-day and lose sight of what is so inspiring and energizing about being in this field.

Tobi: Totally. Yeah, the to-do list feels like it completely kills that creativity. And that’s true. The to-do list or that lack of time is going to kind of work in opposition to you feeling free to create the level of work that you could really be doing. That’s so good.

And then the one other thing I wanted to touch on before we wrap up is, I think probably the biggest hurdle I see people struggle with is believing, not necessarily because the client said so, it may just be their thought. But believing that they don’t have a choice or the client won’t wait or you couldn’t possibly take that long to get to that result for the client. And so when that pressure is coming in for people and they’re like, “Well, that sounds amazing, Desi and Tobi, I’d love to put white space in my calendar and plan for overing but I have to have this thing.”

Or a lot of times it’s even, I told the client it would take four weeks when I really should have told them it would take 12. And the thought of telling them 12 just sounds like I could never do that. They would flip their lid. So what do you do in that instance when you’re believing that some outside circumstance or source or pressure is happening that doesn’t allow you to run your day the way you want to?

Desi: Yeah. So I think a quick question you can just ask yourself is, what if I’m wrong about that? And let your brain marinate on it. And then I think a big part of this too is setting expectations with the client and educating the client. And setting expectations around how your process works, how long things take between meetings, setting up when we’re going to meet next, and what those deliverables are.

Because if we don’t set the expectation, the client’s going to fill in gaps in their own thinking with their very limited knowledge or perception of what the process should look like or what they’re hoping it’ll look like. And so that’s one of those things where I think you could really get ahead of things if you start off on the right foot with being very clear about this is how it’s going to go. And of course you say it in a nice way. You don’t have to be bossy. But it’s one of those, if they don’t know, they’re just going to decide that that’s what it is, [crosstalk].

Tobi: And helping them understand you’re going to do your best work if you have space to do your best work. None of us would go to, I don’t know, fill in the blank, Picasso and be like, “I need a painting from you and it has to be done by Thursday.” I mean, we might, but we would be ridiculous because we would believe that somebody like that needs time and space for the thing to evolve and for it to develop and for him to work his magic and all of the things. Yet we don’t give ourselves that same sort of, I guess, that would be respect that we’re not giving ourself and our work.

Desi: And I think that’s really where the education piece comes in alongside the expectation is allowing for the client to see this is part of them getting exactly what they want. Because I think that clients are hiring designers because they want a certain experience and they want a certain result. And so in order to have that luxury experience, have it be a very smooth process where things are on time. They’re not getting dropped through the cracks. And they’re getting a really amazing space at the end, that requires you to have a certain timeline and space to think, not overthink but space to think, just to be clear.

Tobi: Yeah, exactly. And I was thinking, yeah, as you were saying that, I was thinking a luxury client will order a custom Rolls Royce or Mercedes and wait a year and a half for it. Or a Birkin bag or anything that they believe, they’ve been told takes 24 months and they’re like, “Okay, let’s get in line. Let’s get in the queue. I’ll be so excited when it gets here.” Yet for some reason, we don’t believe that they’ll wait that long on us and some won’t, but the right clients will, I think.

And so those are great points. Amazing. This was so fun. This was so good. Not at all surprised. We can have an amazing conversation.

Desi: So glad we could connect.

Tobi: I know, so good, yeah, you shared so many just nuggets and so much wisdom. So thank you for that. If people want to find you, connect with you, where’s the best place to do that?

Desi: Best place is my website Otherwise you can check out my podcast, The Interior Design Business CEO and you’ll find lots of resources there and also lots of information on free trainings, upcoming workshops, those types of things that I’ll announce.

Tobi: Yeah, love it. And is Instagram a place you hang out very much?

Desi: Not a ton. I like to hop on there for certain things like keeping in touch with clients and then recipes and then my fascination with quilting.

Tobi: Okay, so Instagram for you, mostly a personal endeavor, not your business endeavor.

Desi: I’ve set it up kind of like a landing page where there’s different things that you can find out about working with me, about me, and then I direct you to other places that I’d rather have you land.

Tobi: Cool, okay, so interesting. Alright, well, it was so fun to talk to you. Thank you for being here, I loved it.

Desi: Thank you for having me, Tobi.

Tobi: You’re welcome, so good. And I know everybody’s going to get a lot out of this. So yeah, thanks for sharing and being so open and generous with all of your thoughts and ideas.

Desi: Thank you.

Okay, friends, I hope you liked that. I hope you got huge nuggets and aha moments. I even had a few, especially one about billing. and maybe the reason we’re afraid to bill people and we lop all those hours off if we charge hourly is because we know what we’d be billing for is our overing. That’s huge. That’s an amazing epiphany for me, I hope it is for you too. And I hope you got a lot of gold out of this episode. You know where to find Desi now.

You certainly know where to find me and I’m always up for conversations on Instagram. Just DM me @tobifairley. I’m so interested that Desi doesn’t hang out on Instagram. You all, I’m on Instagram all the time, more than texting. I have more Instagram DM relationships with people than I have text messages in my phone with people, it is true. It is my source of communication. I like it that way but yeah, fascinating to think about not being on Instagram.

Well, at least if you don’t like Instagram, there you go. There’s some permission, there’s somebody else doing it that way. Awesome. Okay, so I hope you enjoyed it. I’m going to be back next week with another fabulous guest. I can’t wait for you to hear that one. Somebody that I love and adore and we’re going to talk all things design, business, influencer, all the stuff next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.

Thank you for listening to The Design You Podcast. And if you’re ready to elevate your social media presence and supercharge your interior design business, then sign up for my brand new live three part training called Show Up on Social Media Like a Pro. In this workshop series I will guide you through the strategies and tactics to shine on social media platforms so you can say goodbye to uncertainty and hello to confidence as you learn to engage, inspire and connect with your audience like never before. Don’t miss this golden opportunity to level up your social media gain and take your design business to the next level. Head to to sign up today.

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Hi! I'm Tobi

I help creative women (and a few really progressive dudes) design profit-generating, soul-fulfilling businesses that let them own their schedule, upgrade their life and feel more alive than ever!

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