How to take time off: For Creative Entrepreneurs.
The idea for Cedar June originated on a sleepless night in a lean-to next to a lake in the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains, with snow still on the ground in late April. I’d been freelancing for about a year, the world was still coming out of a pandemic, and I was trying to figure out how to create something more. After being “stuck” at home, 2021 was packed with camping trips and time off from my brand new business. Taking a lot of time off in my first year of business may sound counterintuitive. But the seven trips that I took in that first year of business fueled my creativity, connected me to my vision, and replenished my mind and spirit during what was probably one of the most challenging years of my life.
Taking time off is one of the greatest teachers I have ever known. I got the travel bug early on in life; after watching my blue-collar grandparents save and travel the world, souvenirs from Egypt, China, and Alaska were normal in the Boershlein household. On the flip side, I watched my parents work corporate jobs and roll over vacation days year after year, and I knew that would never be me.
I spent the first ten years of my working life clocked in on nights and weekends, picking and choosing the few summer events I could attend and always missing out on the life I truly wanted. But, once I started working for myself (part and then full time), I got good at taking time off – fast.
In my opinion, camping, vacation, travel, or a weekend away can all fall under the “taking time off category” (but bonus if you get to be in nature). It doesn’t have to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy (even though the one I took in college was easily a turning point in my life). It can be just a long weekend away for the fourth of July (which ill be taking in just a few short days). Taking time off can even mean just an extra day on the weekend. You get to define what it means for you in your season of life. One of your main priorities this summer should be taking time off from your business. Time away makes you a better business owner and service provider and reignites your creativity.
Picture this you have two plants on your kitchen windowsill, in the same pots, same soil and same seeds. Each day, you speak to one of the plants with praise, love, and admiration. But you talk to the other with criticism, negativity, and anger. Guess which of these plants will flourish? Now replace those plants with two carbon copies of your business; the same rules apply. Yet, we are human, and being a creative entrepreneur can be stressful. It doesn’t mean that it has to be stressful all the time. Stress is the teacher of the universe. It can show you what needs to change, what lessons need to learn, and when it’s time to grow. But too much of it leads to burnout. Taking time off from your business gets you out of your comfort zone and creates a space to break out of your daily routine, stirring things up, clearing, and creating space for new ideas and realizations. You know what they say about “absence makes the heart grow fonder” have you ever come back having some time off from your business and been so excited to get back to your work routine, touch base with your clients, and dig back into your business? There is no better feeling – it’s when you know you’ve got the golden ticket.
There is one thing I will do that is somewhat work-related while taking time off, and that is to create. I’m wired as half entrepreneur, half creator, and if I’m in a beautiful place, I can’t help but create. It’s just who I am. The photos and videos I take while traveling, hiking, and camping, act as slivers in time and a memory I can feel. Like it or not, entrepreneur or not, we are all creating content all the time. I’m conscious about being present while taking time off, but documenting and creating content while taking time off is also something I enjoy that allows me to be present with myself, with my intuition and creativity.
***tip: Get off the grid
I love taking time off in places where I don’t have service because my phone acts like a camera, and I don’t have to worry about notifications from clients or the urge to get on Instagram. If I have service but want to disconnect, airplane mode and do not disturb are beautiful things.
Leave your phone behind for a day. It’s a great way to learn about your connectivity habits while taking time off. If you want to go to the next level, unplug for a whole day, and don’t take any photos or videos. Just let life happen.
If you have a camera, take time taking photos and videos with just that, and challenge yourself creatively.
I’m actually all for sharing your time off with your followers on your business account. It personalizes you, creates connections with people, and shows other business owners that taking time away from their business is okay. I’m all about the document now and share later approach. I love a good live photo or 5-second video; it takes only a few seconds to capture and can be used for content down the road. If you want to share bits and pieces of your travels – consider posting snippets from your day at the end of it, a reel a few days later, or a carousel l when you get home. Posting in the moment while taking time off can be a slippery slope. Consider how you can respect these boundaries with yourself and still benefit from sharing your experiences during your time off.
Have you ever watched someone experience a place through their phone screen? I’m going to guess you said yes. Have you ever shamelessly taken selfies on vacation? I’m going to also bet you said yes. Knowing when to put the camera down and when to pick It up may be one of the most intricate millennial skills to learn. I’m not saying I have it mastered, but I know a thing or two. I don’t plan out the content I want to create while away. I just document when I’m inspired too.
When it’s okay to pick it up:
Then when you get home, you have all this new material to work with to supplement your passion-driven content and make personal connections with your followers.
A lofty idea, but there are some things I always do to ensure that taking time off of my business wont create more stress.
The feel of a crisp blank planner in late December, all the possibilities of the year ahead, just waiting to start filling in those blocks. The first thing I do (coffee in hand) is mapping out my cornerstones: the events in my year that are non-negotiable, including my time off. Only then does my marketing plan for the year come into play. The services and offers I promote are strategically designed around my time off (not the other way around). To do this, you don’t have to wait until the snow hits the ground (maybe not where you live, but definitely in Buffalo). You can do it for this quarter or the rest of the year. For a full breakdown of cornerstones and buffers, check out The Quarterly Drop-In.
Let your clients know when you will be off if you will be communicating, and share what you are doing in your time off. Here are some simple ways to let your clients and customers know you are out of the office:
Say yes to that last-minute concert that weekend away, and get your head on straight a little extra time. Stepping away from your business is one of the best things you can do for your business (and yourself). Set an example for your clients and customers of what it looks like to scale sustainably, disconnect from your business, and fuel your creativity. If you haven’t already, plan to take some time off this summer, and if you choose to document it, tag me so I can see! For a step-by-step dive into planning ahead for time off and how I manage the day-to-day of my business, check out The Quarterly Drop-In.