Manage Your Stress: 6 Tips for Interior Designers

Every day is a whirlwind when you own your own interior design business.

Your "To Do" list could have legs and get a name because you carry it around like your child.

  • Consultations need to be scheduled.
  • Fabric needs to be pulled.
  • You need to view incoming inventory.
  • Your client is fighting with her husband over the living room wall color.
  • You have a delivery that needs to be scheduled.
  • You need to follow up to get some decisions from a client who is just too busy to meet with you.
  • Bills need to be paid.
  • The desk that showed up with a scratch on top needs to be returned.

You can't be in five places at once. You aren't a therapist - but it sure feels like you need one (maybe on payroll). I get it. In fact, I just stressed myself out writing that introduction.

We've all been there. Being an interior designer can be STRESSFUL. There are a thousand and one moving parts that need to be handled at once. 

Take a deep breath. INNNNNNN. OUTTTTTTTT. 

I have good news for you - there are strategies and tactics that everyone can use to help manage and reduce stress! (Crazy, right?)

1. Prioritize

If you're like me, checklists are EVERYTHING. Seriously, writing this blog was on my checklist. Set your priorities first. What needs to happen in an hour? What is due tomorrow? What can wait until next week? 

My recommendation - sit down with your calendar, pen, and paper, or with a digital program. Write EVERY SINGLE THING DOWN. 

Then prioritize your activities for each day. Is it urgent? Or just important? Maybe you really HAVE to do it? That is a whole other blog post. Stay tuned for that.

But in the meantime, create a short daily task list that captures ONLY the top 3 priority tasks for each day. If you can get those 3 tasks done that day, it's a WIN. 

And don't forget - when you are done, CROSS IT OUT. 

2. Organize

"Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor - it's anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living," - Peter Walsh

It's true!! Organize your office, desk, workspace, kitchen table - wherever it is that you plan to execute your task list. A clean and organized workspace will leave you feeling relaxed and prepared to take your to-dos head-on. If you saw my desk now, you'd call me a hypocrite, but I do stop to clean and organize it at least once a week.

Pro-Tip: Think about it as if you were designing for your client's office! We preach being organized and having your space designed for efficiency - do the same with yours.

3. Reduce Interruptions

Disruptions suck. There, I said it. Whether it is your employees asking questions, your phone ringing off the hook, or your kids are screaming - it's impossible to get anything done and that's stressful. 

If you can't put your phone (or kids) on mute, then let's focus on your reaction to these disruptions.

Pro-Tip: Anticipate them - and prevent them. You know your client is wondering when her demolition is going to start, so don't let her call and ask YOU. Instead, be proactive and let her know as soon as you do. You know that you get sucked down a rabbit hole every time you check email? Then only check email twice a day.

Plan and schedule for these disruptions by allocating certain hours of the day to handle these interruptions (like answering emails, calling back vendors, scheduling meetings, etc.). Block your time on the calendar and don't veer off track. It takes discipline but then becomes second nature.

4. Focus. One Thing At A Time.

This tip might blow your mind: Stop multi-tasking. Although most of think we are, we are NOT programmed to do a million things at once. When you multi-task, it takes longer to get something done because you're interrupting your focus - and it leaves room for errors (which is more time that you already don't have).

Focus on one task. Finish the task. Cross it off of the list. BOOM.

5. Use Proven Processes That Work

You shouldn't be inventing the wheel every time you send a proposal, work with a client, vendor, or plan out your marketing. 

To minimize your stress, it's essential that you focus on using a PROCESS. Both you and your clients will appreciate the smooth implementation of your beautiful designs. 

If you don't have any processes in place, click here to find out more.


6. Set Boundaries 

Burnout is a real thing. We feel like we are going and going (and going) and we can burn ourselves out.  We are creatives and we need time to breathe, step away, and reset.

It's easier said than done but set boundaries. Slowly work one or more of these into your routines.  Here are a few:

  • Wait until you're sitting at your desk (or you've had your coffee) to read emails in the morning
  • Stop answering emails after 5:00 PM 
  • Define your "work hours"
  • When you are driving, listen to an audiobook, or a playlist instead of calling clients/vendors. Or just turn the radio off and enjoy the quiet.
  • Schedule one lunch per week where you catch up with friends (even if it is via Zoom or FaceTime) or you enjoy a quiet break by yourself. 

What are some ways that YOU manage your stress? I'd love to know!




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