Slow Down To Do More: “I stopped being scared of having a long waitlist.”

Slow Down To Do More: “I stopped being scared of having a long waitlist.” with Vanessa Valiente and Ashley Graber

I stopped being scared of having a long waitlist.I am booking clients 3+ months from now. I used to feel that was very bad, and I MUST fit them in sooner. But I do not need to do that. I have lost some fun new clients, but my current clients will get the best of me, and that is what matters.

As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Vanessa Valiente, San Diego’s #1 Personal Stylist and creator of V-Style, San Diego’s first fashion blog that has now expanded to travel advice. Vanessa is passionate about protecting her clients from the waste and misinformation pushed on women by hungry sales associates and overzealous media sources. She believes it is this passion for efficiency that has made her the most sought after stylist in San Diego with clients flying in from around the world to work with her. Vanessa has been featured in numerous publications including The Washington Post, New York Magazine, and Refinery 29.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

My degree is in Costume Design for television and film. The first two years of my career I was a costumer on television shows. Between shows I started doing personal styling. After a few years, personal styling took over my schedule and my fashion blog became a huge part of my work, so now I only take on very specific projects outside of private styling and V-Style.

According to a 2006 Pew Research Report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?

For me, it was a slow-ish progression into rushing. I remember working really hard in college, balancing five or six courses, working on plays at night and waiting tables on the weekend, but I didn’t feel rushed. I think because everything had a designated time slot. Everything seemed very clear cut. When I was working 12, 18, and 20 hour days on television sets, I was always rushed while working, but that was part of the job. We worked awful hours, but when I left, I left. I went home and slept, and played on the weekends. I was bone weary, but not stressed. I really started to get rushed when my business grew and my personal and professional ambitions swelled. As an entrepreneur, I only clocked out when it was time to socialize or work out, with no breathing room in between. Besides working with over 300 clients, I also manage an editor, an assistant, my press and I travel all the time. And as I got older, my community expanded. It wasn’t just the same college crew I would see every single weekend. I had all sorts of different friends and groups of people I wanted to see separate from each other. Natural life drama also started to occur, like multiple loved ones dying, dealing with family issues, and health problems.

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?

Rushing is poisonous. It prevents accurate memories being made, I forget to do things, I struggle to fall asleep, and I am often late which damages my professional and personal relationships.

On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?

If we had the luxury of slowing down, health wise, we would eat better, work out more, get better sleep, smile more and walk more instead of drive. In relationship to work, our brains would function more efficiently, we would take the time to do our best, and we would care more about our work. Lastly, the most important aspect of slowing down means taking the time to be kind to one another. Rushed people are not often nice people. It is hard to be generous when you are rushed.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

1. I assign days and times to the tasks on my expansive to-do list. I sometimes feel like I have to get everything done TODAY, but often I don’t. I can also tell a client it will take seven days to get something done, not two. I also don’t need to implement my big picture great ideas right this very minute. Sometimes they can wait until next month.

2. I raised my rate sooner than I planned. I finally realized I was overwhelmingly busy, and reminded myself of Econ 101, supply and demand. Raising my rate was the best decision I made this year.

3. I stopped being scared of having a long waitlist.I am booking clients 3+ months from now. I used to feel that was very bad, and I MUST fit them in sooner. But I do not need to do that. I have lost some fun new clients, but my current clients will get the best of me, and that is what matters.

4. I schedule down time. I schedule “nothing” time with myself and with my lover. My boyfriend used to ask, “What are we doing on {insert whatever day}?” I used to throw out ideas, but now I feel comfortable saying, “Let’s do nothing. Let’s just talk and hold each other.” And that is exactly what we do. We schedule nothing dates all the time now.

5. I schedule emergencies. I now leave a couple days a month for an emergency, whether it be a sick day, a loved one needs me, car issues or house repairs. I finally learned that something always comes up or goes wrong and I need to schedule it.

6. Unless I am styling an editorial or commercial shoot, I do not schedule any kind of appointments before 11am. This has changed my life. I now use mornings for intense office hours, blogging, working out, straightening up or straight up sleep.

How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?

I know mindfulness is about being aware of the moment, but I would like to talk about being mindful of my limits. I know myself very well. I know what I should and shouldn’t agree to, and yet I constantly pushed myself far beyond my limits to please people and grow my business. I did this for 10+ years and finally decided that was enough. It’s okay to lose that client or skip that project. This was so hard for me, but what is the point if I am not happy? I always do a killer job, but when I am pushed so hard, I am miserable. When I stay within my limits, I am focused and happy. I don’t just do a killer job, I am able to go above and beyond in my work from remembering the smallest detail and preparing a whole extra idea that surprises my clients, to being a contagious joy to work with. It is truly awesome. Clients are in awe. Hell, I am in awe! So now, I rarely push my limits. There is no need. I’m not starving anymore. I’d rather be amazing, not just great.

Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?

I think it is important to have two hours a day for yourself, whether it be a work out, reading or a walk. I really like starting the day with an hour to run and then ending the day with an hour to myself. As for little acts of mindfulness, try taking a break in the day to write down something that makes you happy, or write down everything that makes you stressed. Just take those moments to feel positivity or purge negativity.

Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?

I already mentioned writing joyful or stressful things down. But little things I like to do is smile at the sky or at strangers while I am walking somewhere. I also recommend eating while looking at something pretty, not your desk or your phone. I also like to congratulate myself on a job well done. Pep talks are also mindful awesomeness. May I also recommend singing and dancing as much as possible? I think this is a great mindful tactic.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices?

I don’t think this is what you are looking for, but I love to read minimalist articles. Anything to do with minimalism is like peace porn for me. It really doesn’t matter who writes it or where I find them. They always show up on all my social media feeds and I click away.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I believe it was Catherine Wallace that said, “Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” This is amazing parenting advice, but it also reminds me that, in general, the small things ARE big things. I tend to give small things no time or attention, but it is those small things that can save or ruin a day. Another way of putting it, I often schedule too little time to something I thought would be so small, and it never is small. I now like to overestimate the time it will take to do something. I always end up needing it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire so many different things, but at this very moment, I would love to inspire an efficiency movement. My boyfriend and I were recently discussing the homeless situation. The research has been done and it has shown that giving a homeless person a free home costs the city less money than leaving them on the streets. I can name so many other issues that could be relatively “easy” to solve with efficient thinking. To think and act efficiently will help every single person on this planet. Let’s not waste time moaning about, fighting, treating symptoms or making things more complicated than they need to be. I detest waste. Let’s save time, money, resources and emotion, and just get to work on the source of the problem. I want everyone to focus on efficiency.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!


Slow Down To Do More: “I stopped being scared of having a long waitlist.” was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.