First year of business – Systems overload

So many freaking systems.

That’s what I remember from my first year of business.

So many decisions about software and so many process that I realised I didn’t have, and so many records to keep.

Imagine the most horrified emoji face you can muster. Yes, that’s how it felt.

After all, I just wanted complete freedom and flexibility and creative potential, regular income, great coffee and inspiring collaborators and no paperwork whatsoever. Is that so much to ask??

Apparently here in the real actual world, yes.

So what did I do?

To start with every time I found yet another system or process that I didn’t have that it seemed everyone else had I died a little bit on the inside. ‘Seriously?? More things to do??” I wailed in my inside waily place. Mostly I wrote them down somewhere and lost the list and found it again with pangs of guilt weeks later. I would have these moments of elevated hope, when talking with someone who actually had and uses these systems – hope that I would do the follow up work and that I would somehow become a new person who was excited about tidy completely efficient systems. But this would usually wear off within a few hours and I would return to my usual lumpish disinterest in such detailed admin things. Once I learnt about them I could see their benefit and how they would help me. Sometimes the concept of it all excited me. But hand on my heart the doing or setting up of them never ever excited me. Each time it would sink to the bottom of the to-do list like a marble in a fish tank.

I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants, random and messy.

Part of the avoidance came from not knowing. It’s super hard working in a vast wasteland of unknowns and risk. Not knowing the territory it can be tempting to to venture out. What? I have to get out of my comfortable chair and walk though the potential for confusion and regret?

But what I learnt over time is that it settles down. At first I honestly thought there were ONE MEEEELLION scheduling systems for me to choose from. Eventually it felt like just 3. Eventually I just chose one and when that one felt not quite right I chose another one.

Same as an invoicing and book keeping set up – I just ended up choosing one because my coach had worked with it. And it will do for now until I move onto the one that costs more but I plan to master soon.

So know this.

A) If you don’t super love this stuff you are not alone.

B) Overwhelm is a self-perpetuating panicky thing that really you could better do without.  If you are learning something new and drowning in options try not to compound it by shrieking things at yourself like ‘Oh my gosh everyone else knows what they are doing! I must be a complete loser! When will I just make a decision! I have to make a decision! I can’t make a decision!’. Find some way to take the pressure. Unless the wheels are falling off today from not having it, give yourself permission to not think about it for 3 months. Maybe you have too much other stuff going on and not enough information to make a good decision just yet.

C) You don’t have to be using every cool app and all the best most efficient software to also be offering something of value to the world. I have worked with some AMAZING coaches and empathetic, generous, insightful healers who use less tech than me. Did I get any less from the session just because there was something old skool in their bookings system or they aren’t all over social media? Not at all.

D) So what if you’re messy. I am: I really really am. I often wish I wasn’t (because I dream of being somehow more slick and stylish and having vast tundra-like surfaces and spaces with lots of artful throw rugs) but plenty of time I barely even notice because I am just a happy little fish swimming in creative mess. YOU CAN STILL RUN A BUSINESS if you are messy. YOU CAN STILL OFFER VALUE if you are messy. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO have a bare desk, or shiny laundry, or straightened thighs or skinny hair or posh to-do-list like the woman you read about in the Sunday paper to make a go of things. You really don’t. Books have been written in tracksuit pants and policies drafted with baby food in hair. You can have chipped and shitty nail polish and still be strong and awesome. You can not know what the heck to do about X or Y this week and still know a lot about Z.

E) You’ll make a decision when you need to. When it becomes more of a pain in your butt to have no system, or the time you are spending doing something manually starts to do you head in – you will change!

F) Decisions don’t always happen how we think they should. Sure I know all about ‘proper’ decision making. I could bore you senseless with talk of cost-benefit analysis and multi-criteria analysis and deliberative valuation. I could! But I wont! because we’re friends and friends don’t let friends do MCA. Just joking. What I would say is this: we are not robots and we rarely make decisions the way we actually think we do. So it might be that after WEEKS of telling yourself you ‘should’ read all the fine print on three different online options for doing something very fancy and necessary in your business, and that you ‘should’ then find three different people who have used each one and interview them and make a table listing all the… whatevers… what you ACTUALLY do is wake up one morning and absent mindedly watch a you tube video about one of them while eating a piece of toast and then think ‘oh that doesn’t sound so bad’ and then download it while you sip your tea and watch a youtube video about a turtle that is friends with a kitten and then kind of sort of make an account and give your credit card details. AND THAT’S OK. If you start using it and it was better than before and it cuts all the anxiety and you can always stop and use another thing later – BLOODY BRILLIANT.

So that’s my wise words on overwhelm from tech choices. Basically just: ‘yes, you might have it, don’t worry I did too. It kind of goes away if you ignore to long enough. And maybe you kinda know the answer already.’

(Don’t worry, that’s not how I do MCA’s.)