I’ts funny how time off can mean different things to different people. While some people live for the weekend to totally switch gears and not think about their jobs until Monday, there are others who really don’t mind their work, and take each day as it comes and enjoy it.
I definitely fall into the second category. Being fortunate enough to be doing something that I love to do and work in a creative field, much of the time I am working it doesn’t even feel like ‘work’ to me. It is more of an extension of my creativity and I am allowed to pursue just about any creative idea that I have.
But it isn’t always like that. Anyone who owns their own business realizes that there are basic ‘mechanics’ of the business that need constant attention to keep things running smoothly. Things like paperwork, planning (yes – that takes time) and negotiating contracts, as well as learning new skills, advertising and other things like maintaining the website, filling orders and corresponding with customers can take a big chunk out of the day. All these above mentioned things are vital to the success of the business, and if any one of them were neglected or put on the back burner, the business would certainly suffer.
I love working from home. I feel that it allows me not only the convenience of being in my own environment, but also allows me to put in more hours towards the business comfortably. Those of you who order from me know that we are pretty much ‘always open’ and if there is a question, order or problem, it doesn’t matter what time of day (or night) it is, if I am awake and near my computer, I take care of it.
I never mind doing things this way, as I know what it is like to run into an issue on a weekend and have to wait until a Monday to receive help. The same with ordering something. Many times we receive orders in the late hours of the night either because our customers are half way around the world or they are night owls cruising the web. If we are up, we fill these orders no matter what time of the evening it is, and if I awake to new orders or questions, that is the first thing I take care of. We have received many notes of thanks for doing things this way and I am sure that it helps to build a good relationship with out customers.
Recently, it seems that these non-creative tasks are increasing. In one way, that is a good thing because it is evidence of a positive growth in our business. After all, that is what we are striving to accomplish. I have found however, that with the additional time these tasks are taking, I have less time to design and be creative. So while it is good on one side, it is somewhat overwhelming on the other.
So what is the answer?
We certainly aren’t in the position financially to hire additional help. While one day we may reach that point, we just aren’t there yet. But as we branch into different areas of designing, we need to find a way to make things work with just the two of us in the most efficient way possible.
My grandmother used to say that we are like a pie. There there is only so much, and the more slices you want it to yield, the smaller the slices need to be.
To me, that makes a great deal of sense. As we branch out into these different areas of woodworking, decorative painting, and designing, we need to remember that we are still only two people. There are still only 24 hours in a day. And we need to take time for ourselves to replenish and rest and do some of the things that we find joy in doing. Or what’s the point?
Once again, it seems to be time to reorganize. I know that I write of that often, and I find that I am constantly doing organizational-type things. Either I am the most organized person in the world, or the most disorganized person – I haven’t quite figured it out yet.
Realistically, I believe that the reason that I organize so much is because of the constant changes around me. My life is not stagnant, and as things change and we are growing, there is constant need for evaluation of things and rearranging priorities. I don’t think this will ever be different, unless the growing stops, which is something we don’t want to happen.
So instead of resisting growth and reorganization, I choose to embrace it and look upon it as a helpful tool that will keep us on top of things and moving in a positive direction. Re-prioritizing and reevaluating is a continual process and there should really be no time when we feel we are ‘done’. Perhaps that is where my mistake was in the first place, reaching a plateau of organization and settling in. Good businesses are static, not stagnant, and we need to realize that.
I spent the weekend both working on things and thinking about the future for our business. By declaring a ‘weekend off’ to myself on Saturday, it put me in a completely different mindset. (Isn’t it amazing how powerful our mindsets can be?) I accomplished a great deal this weekend. I baked. I cooked two great dinners (chicken pot pie on Saturday and Greek Dolmades yesterday) I cleaned the house. I even got my little ‘all season tree’ all decorated for Halloween. All these things brought a sense of comfort to me. I like when my environment is pleasant and it gives me not only a feeling of peace, but also I felt like I was back in control of things. I hadn’t made myself a decent meal in weeks it seemed and even the nice meals felt good to me. Most importantly, I felt the sense of calm return to me, and I am able to look at things feeling well-rested and positive again (I was beginning to feel really frazzled!)
As a residual of all these feelings and things, something else good came of it. I not only finished the plaque for the magazine, but I also wrote an article (complete with photos) that I am also submitting to be published. The Valentine’s plaque is ready to head off, along with all the photos, directions and drawings that go with it. I feel good about it and I am proud of the way it came out.
But wait! You are probably thinking that what I described sounds like ‘work!’ I wasn’t supposed to do any work this weekend, was I?
I suppose you are right, but the funny thing is that when I took the pressure off of myself, and accomplished some of the things that fed my soul, it didn’t seem like such a hardship to get these things done and they just seemed to come naturally. It actually felt good to do them and not only did I finish everything up, but I actually had fun doing so. Here are pictures of the finished heart plaque. First the natural colored plaque:
And then the stained one:
I couldn’t resist and brushed a bit of fine shimmer on the key and the border of the stained one. It really looks nice.
Today I feel once again ready to take on the world. I made a decision this weekend, that I will go back to keeping Sunday for myself to do anything that I wish to do. I used to keep that as a weekly day of self-indulgence, but as we got busier and busier, that somehow got lost and I found it was beginning to turn into just another work day.
From now on, on Sundays I will only do what I really want to do. Be it bake, or paint for myself or my friends, or even just watch TV and play games, there will be no expectations other than to enjoy myself. If what I want to do just so happens to help the business, that is OK. But it doesn’t have to.
This may seem like a no-brainer to some of you. But it is amazing to me how ‘grey’ this area of work and play can be. Without being kept in check, it is very easy to allow the business to take over my life, and then there will be resentments and burnout and all those things we hear about that cause businesses such as mine to fail. I don’t want that to happen.
I missed writing yesterday. It felt a bit odd. I don’t consider writing here a chore at all, as I usually think it helps me keep my own thoughts organized and helps set my day. However, when I was beginning to feel that I had to write something each day, and with all the other pressures I was feeling, I felt that I needed to take a day off. Once in a while I suppose I will need to do that.
Thank you as always for all the nice comments. I always appreciate them, along with the many friendships that I feel I have made through writing here. While it was only a day away, it did wonders all around and I feel ready again to move ahead and do lots of new and exciting things. My weekend off served me well.
I wish you all a wonderful Monday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"