How to get a handle on ‘overwhelmed’

Watercolor by Becky Kazana

Spinning Plates seems to be the perfect way to explain how so many photographers feel. Each client, project, promotion, marketing strategy… They each represent a plate. One project may end and that plate can come down but inevitably it’s replaced with another. And sometimes… Another and another and another. Being busy is what every entrepreneur dreams of and yet, that same ‘busy’ can self-morph into the complete demise of a business and it’s owner.

When we get busy and I mean really busy, it’s almost inevitable that quality is sacrificed, creating an experience becomes an ongoing missed opportunity and reputation begins to suffer as a result.

There was a time when I was wishing, pleading, willing the phone to ring. I was waiting for my business to take flight. Then before I knew it, I went from just taking off to being thrust into turbo mode without ever reading a manuel on what to do next.

I felt guilty to be frustrated with how busy I was, wasn’t this what I’d wanted? And yet, because I’d never made a proper plan I had none of the tools I needed to sustain myself and my business. At first I stayed up into the early hours of the night purely out of excitement! There was so much passion and ambition and determination inside me that I felt like I would explode if I couldn’t get it out. But eventually enthusiasm was replaced with exhaustion. My day started at 7am when the kids woke up and on most nights it ended at 5am or so when my head literally hit my keyboard. Then I would drag myself out of my office, collapse into bed and barley count out the hours of sleep I would get that night before submitting to exhaustion.  I know! Ugly!! It was vicious cycle and one that I couldn’t alow to survive. It was me or it and I wasn’t going down without a serious fight. Here’s what I’ve learned and done so far…

1. Plan for success! We are what we think about so why not plan for the success that we want and start acting as if it’s already here. Decide for yourself what that would mean?! For me it meant scheduling clients further out and farther apart. After making the mistake to many time to count I finally figured out that I needed to stop planning for my business and start planning for my real life. It sounds so obvious and yet it was one of the most liberating things I’ve done to date.

2. Chaos is a sign to raise prices. I’m serious! Whenever I get overwhelmingly busy, I raise my prices. I do this because to my mind this shows that the demand has been established and so the supply levels need to be adjusted. (Read ‘How I raised my prices‘)

The great thing about raising prices is that you suddenly need and want way fewer clients!

3. Outsource. We are not and can not be everything and if we’re being really truthful then we have to admit that we aren’t even good at everything anyways. So stop thinking you have to do and be it all. I know I’m such a broken record on this one but it just kills me when I hear these women who are killing themselves to be ‘photographer of the year’, ‘mother of the year’ and ‘iron chef contestant’ and inside they are falling to pieces because they can’t do it all. I’ve cried those tears! There is a better way! (Read this post on what I feel should and shouldn’t be outsourced)

4. Say ‘No’ sometimes. We’re in the middle of summer as I write this. The kids are home, our summer schedule is happy craziness and I don’t want to miss it. So if that means I say ‘no’ or postpone a few projects, I can handle that! I’m scheduling lighter and trying to keep a realistic perspective on how much I really can take on right now. I had hit my head against the same wall over and over, wondering how can I do it all. I finally realized that I can’t. So while I didn’t want to remove anything completely, I did make the choice to back off of a few things (at least for a little while).

Want to go deeper? If you would like one on one business coaching to get your business where you dream of, I’d love to be your cheerleader, advocate and personal consultant… And together we’ll get you thriving!

Leave a comment because I’d love to hear your thoughts!

How well are your plates spinning? Starting to wabble?

Have you taken any steps to maintain a happy balance?

  1. Regina Marie says:

    I’m at the beginning stage, where I’m hoping for busy. However, I do hope to one day be at a point where I see the need to have to ‘manage” my work. I’ve already started looking into the future to see where I would LIKE to be. I can’t wait till I have to start explaining why I’ve had to raise my prices!

    • Leah Remillet says:

      It goes quicker then you think! My best advice would be to plan for where you want to be now. Imagine it, visualize it… What will it look like, be like, feel like and then PLAN FOR THAT! Good luck!

  2. this was totally me…
    i have taken some time off during this hot time in florida to recharge and refigure my business….i am home solo for two weeks finishing up my to do list and painting the entire inside of my house …all by myself !!! i think i went a little crazy but the time i have here by myself painting is sooooo therapeutic 😉
    i will be sooo excited to have everything done and then go spend a week with my hubby and kids in maine …i even told my daughter she can hide my phone and computer !!!! she is soooooooo excited !!!
    i will be completely out of touch .
    wow do i need this and wow was i out of control busy !!!!!!
    you have great ideas and i need to implement them ….
    i am slowly learning how to say NO.
    will def watch my scheduling .
    and will spend more time with my family .
    raise prices.
    oh – and i have a new cool spot for clients to come in and see their photos instead of shipping them off to non personal online link to view !!!
    i will send you a pic when it is complete !!!
    i know i sent you pics of the half done room i was in , well, my surprise to my kids is that i am giving them their own rooms when they get home – they will be soooo surprised !!! and so i am now out in an open area with a sitting area and office 😉
    it is def scary though …..
    i feel like now things have calmed down , but will the phone ring again …
    i already have a wedding and 4 shoots for when i get back so i know it will be okay but jumping to the next level is hard 😉
    sorry for the rambling – i have been alone painting for too long…LOL
    thanks leah for all you do !!!

    • Leah Remillet says:

      Terri!! I am so excited for you!! I wish I could hug you super tight and tell you how amazing you are!! I’m inspired! Can’t wait to hear about the kids reaction to their new rooms and how the ‘unplug week’ goes! Have a blast!

  3. Victoria says:

    I love this article. Where you were is where I’m at….juggling all the plates, mom of 3 6 and under and trying to keep my head above water with my business. Thanks for reminding me that I soooo need to get it together…like YESTERDAY! 😉

    • Leah Remillet says:

      As a fellow mommy of 3 – all under the age of 6 just know that there is only so much ‘getting it together’ that we can do right now. If the dishes sit, if the UPS guy knows your Pajama wardrobe better then your ‘put together’ wardrobe… If somedays you just have to fall apart and cry because all of the plates are breaking and you don’t even have time to find the broom just know that you are not alone, you are not a failure you are incredible and more then half the population would have already quit.

      • Victoria says:

        Thank you for the reply 🙂 And I think it is amazing you reply to these comments at all! A lot of photographer’s out there don’t give other photographer’s the time of day. Thank you for remaining humble. That being said, I clicked your link about outsourcing and the part that resonated with me is outsourcing childcare. I’ve been thinking all this time exactly what you wrote about how if I could just a sitter I could get this and this and this done. I’m with my kids 24/7-literally, unless I have a session, so I’m just wondering what to let go of? If I edit at night, then I’m sacrificing my time in the evening and going to bed with my husband. If I work during the day, I’m only 1/2 working since I can’t focus because I have the kids. I’m really feeling stuck. I have actually had people say to me that they know others didn’t contact me because they think “I’m too busy.” Um..yeah, I have 3 kids, of course I’m busy. So here I wonder what to do? In trying to please everyone {more importantly, in my family} I’m really pleasing no one.

        • Leah Remillet says:

          Oh Victoria! I have cried those tears… several times. First you seriously have to know that every week has to be reevaluated. I’m not even kidding. Every single week I look at everything and decide what isn’t working that did work last week. I pay very close attention to the vibes being given off by my family, we can tell when they need a little more. Next…. Make quality time really quality. Every once in a while we have to work over our family (it’s inevitable) to make this not feel as painful give the very best of yourself to them when you can. That means no sneaking away to check email, no updating comments – where you are theirs be all theirs, enthusiastically. Especially for our husbands, they need to know that we need them! Next – look at outsourcing, my first suggestion would be editing. But look for where you let a little go. And of course if you are that busy…. Raise up them prices sister! 😀
          Tell me how it goes! And yes I love to respond to comments, it’s not because I’m anything special it’s just because I love having conversations with my fellow photogs! It’s important to me that you know I hear you.

  4. Kalli says:

    My favorite tip was #2: Raise your prices if you’re overwhelmed! In the past year I have raised my prices to the BALLPARK of where they should be–but not my target yet. I always wondered when I would raise my prices incrementally–and now I have my answer. Thanks, Leah!

  5. crystal says:

    I wish I needed this post…maybe one day in the future I will 🙂

  6. Dionne says:

    This is a great post….and one that I can definitely relate to. I am up many nights editing and then I am exhausted most days! I am trying to find the balance and this post really hit home. I am also working on prices. Somedays it’s a bit overwhelming. Thank you for an awesome post and wonderful advice!

  7. Tara says:

    Thanks to your program I’m taking the whole summer off other than newborns and regulars! thank you so much

    • WOW! That is awesome Tara! Absolutely awesome!! You are so so welcome and thank you for sharing that with me. You just totally made my day imagining you just taking time to enjoy because that’s what it’s truly all about!

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