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Ask the Makers ~ Vacationing

When we begin our journey of self-employment, we imagine traveling and taking vacations whenever and wherever we want.  The sad truth is that many of us forget to PLAN for a vacation, or even a one-day break.  We work constantly and suddenly it’s the holiday season and we’re sick, burnt out, and grumpier than all get out.  This month, which is all about taking a break, I wanted to shine some light on how us makers take vacations.  Be warned: the truth may frighten you but each and every one of us gets to make our own decisions about how we take time off for ourselves. 

Cat’s Answer:

Ugh- I don’t know, but way too long! Before I had my own business I was in banking for 10 years. I lost weeks of vacation every year and never used any of my personal days! The year before I left they decided to require all employees take 2 vacation weeks together (they said for work life balance reasons, but the real reason was they thought any employee embezzlement would show up in 2 weeks!) – it was the first time I had ever been off from work for that many days at one time in my life and it was absolutely when I knew I needed to leave!

Lisa Jacobs’ Answer:

A creative career is demanding! Yes, I’m typing to you in my pajamas from my couch under a blanket with a warm cup of vanilla chai tea beside me. The irony is not lost on me. But, I’ll say it again: a creative career is demanding. We make it all up as we go along!

I’ve learned that if I don’t take the break (in the form of a digital sabbatical, weekend away, or a simple day off), the break takes me (in the form of the flu, an injury, or exhaustion). The latter never adds up to the vacation my spirit was craving. I try to always heed burn-out’s whisperings of warning.

Jess’s Answer:

I learnt the ‘take time off’ lesson the hard way. When I was transitioning Epheriell into my full-time business, I spent a long, looooong stretch of time – probably over a year – working 16-hour days, pretty much 7 days a week.

Now, on the one hand, that time was crucial in getting my business going. I made a lot of progress during this time.

BUT. I also gained about 10kg because I wasn’t exercising, and eating poorly. I was strung-out, worn-out, and it culminated in a bit of a burn-out. It took that burn-out to make me wake up to how unbalanced my life had gotten. I had to re-learn that I was more than my business, and start the long road to living a more rounded life.

These days, I have good structures in place. I have hobbies outside of my business (which was my main hobby when I turned it into a business) and most of these are some sort of physical activity, so that takes care of both my mental and physical health. I also schedule regular trips away – even if it’s just a night or two – in order to reconnect with myself as a whole person.

All of this has the consequence of making me a better business-person, because of wasting my time on useless ‘busywork’ I’m much better at getting what needs to be done, done.

Eleanor’s Answer:

I think the longest I’ve gone without a proper vacation is about a year. I don’t recommend, my productivity plummeted and I finished the year totally unfocused and unsatisfied with what I had done/not done. Taking time off is VITAL for recharging your batteries, doing your best work and staying focused.

Danielle’s Answer:

Hmm… To me, A “break” or “time off” from work would mean absolutely no possibility of getting any orders or requests for a period of time, which usually means shutting down shop – I haven’t done that since I’ve began my business … so, four years??! But I still take little breaks for fun, of course! I have recently been making more of an effort to not respond to emails on the weekends… baby steps I guess…

Stacie’s Answer:

I feel like I work all of the time. I was literally in labor and still sewing pillows and dropping them off at the post office while I was on my way to the hospital to give birth to my second child! Being focused and having ambition are great qualities, but if you never take a break, you can get so deep into work that you fail to look up and see what is going on around you! Today I have set work hours, and always take Thursdays off to be with my kids. Not only does this give my brain time to get away, but when I go back to work the next day I have fresh eyes and a new perspective on what needs to be done!

Megan’s Answer:

The longest I’ve ever gone without 2 days off in a row was 8 months.  It happened last year and my fall season fell into the winter-prep season which snowballed into the holidays and moving to a new state.  I was the grumpiest person to live with and every muscle in my body ached from the sheer stress of it all.  I would go out on 4 hour bike rides just to escape for a little bit.  I will never, ever do that to myself (or my partner) again.  If I don’t take a vacation every month, I become physically and creatively drained.  I pull ideas up out of me instead of letting them come.  All of my work feels meaningless and rushed.  I flirt with depression and failings of failure,  no matter how many orders come in.  This year I’ve made it a huge part of my business plan to schedule in monthly vacations.

Megan Eckman

Megan Eckman has written 146 posts in this blog.

Megan Eckman is a quirky pen and ink illustrator who never outgrew her overactive imagination. Her work merges the style of old fairy tale illustrations with modern fantasies. When she’s not drawing (and giggling all the while), she can be found pacing her apartment writing more stories to go with her artwork.

What say you?