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Structure That Doesn’t Suck, Part 3

structure that doesn't suck // a series by kristen kalp

This is part of the Structure That Doesn’t Suck podcast series.  Please listen to part one and part two, or this will make absolutely no sense!

There are 35 new podcast episodes in 2019!  If I helped you make more than $35 in your biz this year — support this ongoing work with a payment of $35.

We’re so inundated with advice and good ideas that of course you didn’t start setting up a Luna or Hermione Hour as a result of listening to last week’s podcast! Most likely, you listened, thought it was a good idea, and then went about your life with no changes whatsoever.

That’s a perfectly normal response to free advice, as well as to modern life, so I’m not shaming you in any way. But I am slowing this series down in order for you to get what you need from it.

For the first time in That’s What She Said podcast history, we’re going to pull the brakes and talk about why this structural change is so important. We’ll use this episode to wrap our minds around the change to your daily schedule and to talk about what is and isn’t a good use of your dedicated Hermione or Luna Hour.  (Again: start with Structure That Doesn’t Suck part one or this won’t make sense!)

Also!  ::pulls email to screeching halt awkwardly in the name of being the example of how to do this shit in the real world::

First up, Lunas, ways to use your Hermione Hour effectively:

You may be tempted to use your this hour to go further down your secret rabbit holes. That means you may use your time to look for part-time jobs, or to play Fantasy Job League (YES I COULD BE A BACKUP DANCER FOR TAYLOR SWIFT THANK YOU VERY MUCH), or to go hunting for a different house/career/partner/life. This is not a recommended use of your Hermione Hour.

Likewise, using this hour to withdraw from reality in any way is not the intent. This isn’t the time to focus on learning new methods for your art or craft, or even to go into Do Not Disturb mode.

Use this time to be focused on being in communication with people about your work.

That means responding to phone calls, photographing and sharing your work, talking about your work on social media, publishing your podcast/blog post/story/article/essay/photographs/product launch, clearing your inbox of inquiries, and generally doing the hard work of selling what you’ve made with the world at large.

Other tasks you’ll learn to enjoy include: sending invoices, bookkeeping, setting up new products within your cart system, filing business paperwork, meeting with your accountant, and updating your business systems.

You can also go from zero to e-mail list in fifteen minutes; get paid, dammit; and find your enough number.

If it involves numbers, data, money, and/or the physical world, it’s the perfect focus for your Hermione hour.

It’s also a great idea to meet with friends, coworkers, colleagues, or professionals who can make this transition to addressing the left-brained part of your business a bit easier.

Many Lunas come to me because their business is doing ‘okay,’ but they’d rather not rely on financial support from their partner any longer. That often means sorting out pricing, systems, marketing, and selling in short order. If you need help with these tasks in the form of a business coach, KK on Tap is a great idea! I’d be happy to help.

Hermiones, here’s how to use your Luna Hour effectively:

Let’s talk about all the things you can’t do during this hour. You can’t get caught up on your business reading, your CRM, your SEO, or any other acronyms, okay? We’re working on the tasks that are hardest for you to handle, which are some form of risk-taking, silence, stillness, and space.

It’s easy to get caught in the loop of being extremely tired, bordering on the edge of burnout or apathy at all times. Society will reinforce those feelings with the idea that you should work toward increasing productivity forever, as if at some magical future point the demands you’ve placed on yourself will suddenly disappear and you’ll feel fucking GREAT.

If you don’t feel great right now, adding more tasks and productivity to your plate won’t make you feel better.

Your job during Luna Hour is to live like a thirteenth century king or queen. You have (completely unrelated to your work) books to read! Films to watch! Music to enjoy! You have clean water, nutrition, and a shower or bath tub!

You’re also free to use Luna Hour to do the things you enjoy but don’t ‘let’ yourself do. For you, that might be painting, sewing, song-making, or writing. (If you get paid to do any of those things, they are NOT for this time. We’re talking not-for-sale, creative-for-the-sake-of-being-creative activities.)

If you’re absolutely stumped about what you might enjoy, think of what you did as a kid. (Cliche? Yes. Truest formula possible for finding the part of you that’s been betrayed by work work work work work? Also yes.)

You can climb a tree, stare into space, meditate, bake, bathe, dance, sing, or take a walk. It’s also a great idea to meet a friend for coffee or through Skype to talk about not-work.

Finally, you can meditate, chant, pray, do breathwork, or practice yoga during this time. Tending to your interior continent and your spiritual needs is 100% awesome for this hour.

During my Luna time, I do breathwork, scope out new library book orders, and catch up on whichever Kim Anami class I’m working through at the moment. (Right now, it’s Vaginal Kung Fu.)

Finally, a note for everyone, no matter your deepest tendencies: this is not an hour for your aspirational self.

Lemme explain. I was going through photos from about eight years ago and found a Fuji instant photo of me wearing a thick black belt with a ruffly top. I was in Paris, and I had put together this outfit with so much pride that I demanded my travel partner take the photo.

My aspirational self wears belts. In real life, I hate belts with all my heart.

My aspirational self also speaks many languages (the reason my 4.0 in college was ruined? French.) and runs marathons (I’ve tried and I hate running THE VERY MOST).

Adding structure to your life doesn’t mean stoking the fires of your aspirational self. It’s not about completely remodeling your existence.

Structure is about engaging in the discipline of bringing your work to the world as a whole, fully engaged human.

For Lunas, that means taking care of physical world realities that tend to be ignored.

For Hermiones, that means taking care of the desires, musings, feelings, and intuitive nudges that tend to be ignored for something ‘practical.’ (Podcast episode to help you sort these out: nourishing or numbing?)

In both cases, structure rounds out your natural tendencies with complementary practices that strengthen your whole self — because bringing your best, highest self to the table is the name of the game.

Once again this week, I’m asking you to add a single hour of either Luna or Hermione time to your calendar for each work day.

Try to be as specific as possible with what you’ll be doing during the hour, and please give yourself more time than you think you need to accomplish your tasks.

Lunas, it may take 2 to 3 hours to get an email list up and running to your liking. That’s okay.

Hermiones, scheduling 15 minutes of breathwork, 15 minutes of yoga, 15 minutes of reading, and 15 minutes of meditation is NOT the idea.

Give yourself the gift of s p a c e. And remember, it doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.

P.S. This might take a while.

Structure That Doesn’t Suck, Part 2

priority practice

This is part two of the Structure That Doesn’t Suck podcast series! Visit part one — Structure That Doesn’t Suck — and listen in before the following will make sense.

I promised we would talk about priorities. How do you decide what’s vital on any given day, and how do you make room for what’s most important?

Let’s make it really simple, starting with Step Zero.

Your priority is to engage with your opposite for one hour per work day.

Part of our measurement of growth as humans is moving beyond the settings we’re born with here on earth. If you’re an introvert like me, that means you’ve had to learn how to engage with people. You’ve had to learn protocols like, when someone says, “How are you,” you have to say, “I’m fine thanks, how are you?” For the first seventeen years of my life, I just said, “I’m fine” and walked away. I had to LEARN how to engage with people. Likewise, introverts, you’ve walked away from interactions with people completely wiped out, and you’ve walked away from gatherings of humans completely filled up and absolutely wonderful. (Looking at you, best concert I’ve ever attended.)

Your asshole brain said you were gonna hate every minute of that party, workshop, or concert, but actually it was lovely and you learned a lot. That’s because you grew.

This Priority Practice is similar: you’re gonna push your own edges in the name of growing as a human.

Eventually, you’ll be able to switch between your Hermione and Luna bits seamlessly.

I can say this only because I used to Luna so hard that I didn’t know how much money my business was making per month. I was a photographer at the time, and I trusted my business partner to handle things. Likewise, at some point in the past ten years, I didn’t know how to operate WordPress, email lists, SEO, Google Analytics, or social media platforms. I didn’t know how to follow up on a sale, nor did I know how to hold a profitable workshop. (I was so excited to hold a workshop that WHO CARED about making any money at it!!????)

My learning to Hermione has been a process. Now, I can tell you how much my business has made this month down to the dollar. I operate all the online things all by myself with no trouble. I follow up on sales like a champ, hold profitable workshops, and coach others to do the same.

Which is to say: you can do this.

You can absolutely learn to be a bit of your opposite by engaging with it every single work day.

This is deceptively simple: if you’re a Luna, block off one hour per work day to handle all the Hermione-like tasks you normally avoid.

Use Hermione time to tend to the physical world tasks that bring your work into reality.

These are the tasks that keep you from living out the ‘starving artist’ stereotype, and that, counterintuitively, give you more time to be your fully Luna self.

If you own a business, that means using your Hermione hour to do things like: sharing your work with others, packaging orders, communicating with clients and potential clients, following up with those who have expressed interest in your work but haven’t yet purchased anything, processing emails (meaning send and archive, not keeping emails in your inbox to remind you of to-do’s), sending invoices, bookkeeping, applying for grants or gallery showings, and otherwise doing all the boring, tedious, and/or difficult tasks that you normally avoid like a flaming spider.

If you’re like, ‘That’s overwhelming, I don’t know where to start:’ which undone projects or tasks make you feel guilty or shameful at this moment? Start there. Those are the tasks to add to your calendar right now. (Also: your shame is not interesting.)

The point is not to judge the tasks that make you feel guilty or shameful. The point is to add them to the list and then work through them during your Hermione Hour.

You’re naturally not going to want to do this, and it’s going to sound impossible. BUT. The Hermione Hour is only an hour. If you try and batch your life — i.e. buy 3 pounds of mung beans when you decide to convert to an all ayurvedic diet after reading a single book about it — you know how it goes. Those mung beans are still staring at you from the back of the cupboard seven years later.

We’re actively undoing the tendency to batch life and SOLVE IT ONCE AND FOR ALL. We’re slotting your most dreaded business tasks into simple, straightforward blocks of time that help you rise up from your own self doubt and self loathing to get shit done.

Ways to get the most out of your Hermione Hour:

Hire a pro. It’s okay to use Hermione time to hire a professional! I have a bookkeeper and accountant because if left to my own devices, I would keep zero records and then owe 20% of my total income at the end of the year to the tax man. (Been there, done that, cried hysterically. 2010 sucked HARD.)

You might need the help of a graphic designer, a coach, an event planner, an editor, or another pro to get your work into the world. It’s okay to give up on DiY-ing every last portion of your work and actually hire help. Hire a Hermione! It’s so much easier than trying to become a Hermione!

You don’t have to do it all at once. Part of the reason you’ve avoided doing these tasks for so long is because they seem overwhelming. Please refuse to be overwhelmed. You put one task, and then another, on the calendar until you’re caught up.

It might take days or weeks or months or years, but you’re starting now — which is better than starting later. (Starting last year is not an option, so please don’t beat yourself up about any missed opportunities.)

Ask for help. You’re most likely to need accountability not for individual tasks, but for making the time to function as your opposite. It’s a great idea to ask a friend, colleague, or coach for help with forming this new habit. (Preferably a fellow Luna, so you both do it and share your experiences.)

Have a plan. If you just put Hermione Hour into your calendar with no plan, it’s not going to happen. Make a list of alllllll the tasks that you avoid doing. (It’s okay if the task list is infinitely long! Keep writing and get it all out. Your job is not to beat yourself up, it’s to make a list. That’s your Hermione work for the foreseeable future.)

Add up to 3 tasks per day to the calendar, keeping in mind that most tasks take far longer than we’d like to imagine when we schedule them.

If you’re a Hermione, block off one Luna Hour per work day to do all the things you ‘never let yourself’ do.

That might include: meditating, reading, writing, journaling, dreaming, imagining, playing, wondering, visioning, and generally not being ‘productive’ in the strictest, most capitalist sense of the word. The Luna Hour is also perfect for breathwork, yoga, or any other spiritual practice that normally gets shoved to the early morning or to a single half-hour on the weekend because you ‘don’t have time for it.’

You’re gonna use Luna time to tend to your interiors.

There is nothing more productive than doing this work for future you, but for the long term it may seem like ‘nothing is happening’ and you’re ‘wasting time.’ To that I say: keep going. Asshole brain and capitalist society desperately need you to measure your human worth in terms of output, but you also require input.

Use this time to feed yourself spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and/or physically in any way you see fit.

Luna Hour hacks that make doing this work a bit easier:

Schedule it. Leaving the Luna space completely blank will backfire. Yes, we’re attempting to add silence, stillness, and space into your routine, but if you go from being busy for every minute of every day to an hour of nothingness, you’ll abandon this entire process immediately.

If you’ve scheduled an acupuncture appointment for yourself, downloaded a playlist, set up a friend date, or otherwise prepared for this time in some way, you’re far more likely to both enjoy it and to reap the benefits. Take a few minutes to order library books, gather workout videos, cultivate a playlist, gather art-making supplies, or otherwise ‘trick’ yourself into some down time.

Make this time non-negotiable. I know you could be using this time to answer emails even faster, or make more money or more connections or more projects. I know.

The discipline here is to teach yourself to hold a space sacred.

To reinforce the idea that you’re not the planet to do laundry and respond to emails. You’re a whole-hearted, full-bodied being, and Luna Hour honors that truth. You’re also teaching yourself to separate your work from your worth while giving your nervous system a reset.

This is important work; it’s just not your usual work. (It will feel quite different for that reason.)

Find an accountability buddy. Hold each other accountable for keeping this space free of work. Your natural pattern will be to completely ignore the life-giving hour I’m asking you to create. Find a friend to help you make space for silence and stillness in some small capacity. As you go through it, you’ll both be feeling lighter and freer within a few weeks.

THIS IS TOO SIMPLE, KRISTEN.

IT WILL NEVER WORK.

At first, no. It won’t.

You will fight this like you have never fought anything else in your life.

You will kick. You will scream. You will barrel through the allotted time with 43,000 excuses.

Keep coming back to the Priority Practice. Keep scheduling time to give this a try.

When you start to sink into the rhythm of it, I guarantee your life will get easier.

If you’re a Luna, you will have actually looked at your business numbers. You’ll know your enough number, know what you have to do to maintain a profitable practice, and you’ll be able to bring your steady and experimental income into play.

If you’re a Hermione, you’ll have created breathing room for your soul. You’ll be less stressed, less dependent on time travel to be in two places at once, and less likely to ignore the whispers your intuition has been giving you all along.

No matter what, the Priority Practice gives you a sense of accomplishment and growth, which equals fulfillment.

Your only step right now is to schedule one Luna or Hermione hour per work day for the coming month.

You can absolutely change your habits, make new patterns, and thrive, no matter how hopelessly devoted you’ve been to those Hermione or Luna tendencies.

But first, you’ve got to make space in your calendar for that change to happen.

Go on, take the time now to schedule your Priority Practice as specifically as possible.

P.S. 10 ways to beat overwhelm as a biz owner — fast.

Structure That Doesn’t Suck, Part 1

If you’re one of my people, you tend to operate in one of two categories. You’re either a big-huge-enormous fan of structure and use it to plan every last detail of your life, or you absolutely hate structure and run from it like you run from that person with a hacking cough who’s got the plague over there.

Let’s make peace with both of those extremes by going a little bit Harry Potter on you.

This is an episode of That’s What She Said!  Listen in below, or find all the episodes here.

Hermione Granger is a really smart, really Type-A individual who uses tools like TIME TRAVEL to take more classes. Her structure level is over the top. You cannot beat Hermione at planning, at doing homework, at reading lists, or at time-turning.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll find Luna Lovegood. She’s a laidback, dreamy individual who notices patterns and creatures others miss, subscribes to beliefs others find bizarre, and whose report cards are never crucial to the plot of any J.K. Rowling story.

Both of these humans save Harry Potter’s life at some point in the series. Which is to say…

Structure and serendipity go hand in hand.

They’re both amazing characters. They both get shit done and save the lives of their friends. You’ve got both of them within you, but you’re probably so busy shit-talking the other that you haven’t yet harnessed both of their strengths.

Let’s make peace with your Luna and Hermione parts, starting right now.

If you’re more of a Luna at heart, you’ve said something like, “I’m great at starting a routine and then letting it go the first day I don’t feel like it.”

Because you’re usually not starting *a* routine. You are RENOVATING YOUR LIFE all at once.

You don’t simply stop consuming GMOs and eat a little more kale! You go on a rampage and throw out everything in your pantry that doesn’t fit your strict guidelines, replace your plastics with glass, buy a juicer, start meal planning, and commit to eating 100% organic foods for the rest of time. (I’ve done this many times, including the time I threw out the microwave to kick off a particularly healthy kick. And then purchased a new microwave a few weeks later.)

This Total Life Overhaul works for a few days. You’re doing it! Everything is changing all at once! …and then you find yourself in a cafe with amazing muffins. Sweet, sweet, not-part-of-your-new-life-plan muffins.

FUCK IT, you decide, and throw all that structure out the window in one fell swoop.

Attempts to implement structure in your life are inevitably abandoned when the 18 changes you’ve taken on simultaneously begin to unravel.

Lest you feel superior because you’re on the Hermione end of the spectrum, let’s dive into big changes in Hermione land.

You’ve got your schedule packed with activities. Meal planning happens from mid-afternoon until 5:47 p.m. on Sundays, as well as on Wednesdays at precisely 1:37 p.m., between lunch yoga and afternoon meetings.

You schedule yourself to within an inch of your life and feel stressed by most any change to your plans.

Being one minute late is a catastrophe. Client cancellations are major issues. You don’t understand why people haven’t responded to your Thanksgiving Brunch RSVP 17 weeks in advance. Christmas shopping is done by November first.

Rigidity keeps you uptight on your best days and downright mean on your worst.

…but are you more of a Luna or a Hermione?

Lunas tend to:

+ make amazing work but rarely spend energy selling it
+ have trouble communicating with their peeps consistently
+ freak out about the number of projects they find interesting (“It’s too many!”)
+ panic if they feel ‘locked in’ to a title, project, or way of being
+ spend a great deal of time daydreaming and imagining
+ find money and finances frustrating but uninteresting
+ consistently undervalue their gifts and time

Hermiones tend to:

+ find it difficult to deviate from structure
+ freak out if an assignment doesn’t have any rules
+ enjoy projects less if there’s no chance of getting a gold star
+ overschedule their days and lives
+ fear letting people down, and therefore accept lots of unwanted responsibility
+ push their own needs, particularly creative ones, to the back burner
+ crave freedom, expansion, and stillness, but have trouble finding time for it

The good news is, you’ve got both impulses built right into you!

If you identify with Luna, we’ll work toward creating structure that doesn’t suck in the coming weeks. Those who identify with Hermione will work on adding silence, stillness, and space to let your not-productive bits out to play.

Regardless of how much Luna and how much Hermione you’ve got going on right now, these questions will frame the Structure That Doesn’t Suck series:

What if we play with your schedule so that you aren’t trying to make too many changes to your life at once? And what if we can play with scheduling some — but not all — of your most important work? Further, what if we mark off free time, play time, and not-caregiving time, so that you actually have a break from all that intensity?

Which is to say: what if you commit to doing one thing at a time?

I know you can multitask with the best of them, Hermiones, and that you can daydream while doing any activity at all, Lunas. But what if you only did one thing at a time, all day long?

Both Lunas and Hermiones struggle with overwhelm because both are living in the modern world.

We have more toothpaste options than our ancestors did career choices.

My email list — MY email list — contains more people than Jesus reached in the whole of his time on earth.

To be overwhelmed is the tip of the iceberg and is understating the truth by a long shot.

We’re drowning in choices, in voices, in distractions.

That’s why doing one thing at a time is important, at both the day-to-day level and the career level. You can’t make a movie and an album and a Broadway show simultaneously unless you’re 40 years into your career like Bruce Springsteen, so please don’t try.

Can you commit to doing one task at a time for the coming week?

That won’t change your whole calendar, but it will begin to beat back the overwhelm that threatens to take you under.

P.S.  Your whole year, planned with one question.