designing a business with intention: field trips

Okay, I’m usually a pretty predictable blogger (in my opinion) with the DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews faithfully airing each Thursday. But lately I’ve been thinking about lessening the regularity of this series until the fall. Blame it on the nice weather, the stuff on my very full plate, or just a bit of a pause for new growth here on MML. Not that I know specifically what the new growth will look like… just leaving the options open.

Designing a Business with Intention: Time Off and Field Trips

Today I’d like to talk about my intentions towards business and taking time off. When I first moved to Chicago and started Jess LC full-time, I found creating a work schedule incredibly perplexing. How many days off should I take while unpacking before working everyday? When should I start work each morning? When should I stop working? If Erwin or my other friends with “real jobs” have X number of vacation days, should I have the same number myself?

I know that my younger self wasn’t alone in these organizational debates because as each of my friends begin their own businesses, they ask me the same questions.

Over the years I’ve learned to trust the rhythm of my work flow and to take days off when needed (and not needed). A few vacation periods are obvious for me: Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, and most weekends. But there are other times that I also recognize that I need to relax and step back. And I’m even getting pretty good at mixing some “vacations” with business. Take this summer for example: I’m heading out sometime in July to see my parents and youngest brother in Pennsylvania. These four days will be all about relaxing, shopping at an awesome J.Crew outlet, and doing a Jess LC trunk show for my mom’s bunco group. Then I’ll take a train into New York City to stay with a friend and try to schedule a few “desk sides” (showing my new line to magazine editors in their offices, at their desks) as well as meet my new PR team in person. Heck, I’m even going to meet up with as many of my blog friends in NYC as possible. This hybrid business-personal trip is perfect for me because it allows me to take time off without really “abandoning” my shop.

Another form of relaxation comes in the form of “field trips.” Yep, similar to the trips we had when we were back in grade school. I’ve decided that I need to take advantage of my self-employment and recognize the power that comes with creating my own schedule. I hold myself liable to enjoy the flexibility I’ve afforded through entrepreneurship. I can’t blame “my boss” for my lousy attitude, burnt out brain, or unhealthy workload. I am therefore responsible for making sure I enjoy this life and company I have to the fullest. No guilt required.

And so every few months, I take field trips. In the past I’ve taken the day off to go to a museum with a friend, go to Six Flags with Erwin, or even to go shopping. In fact, the inspiration for this post comes from the field trip I’m taking today: watching an early taping of the upcoming Nate Berkus Show at Harpo Studios with Crystal of Plush Palate and Alaina of Live Creating Yourself. It’s going to be a great day away from my desk enjoying two of my favorite things; good friends and good design.

The work will still be there tomorrow, and I’ll be more refreshed when I’m doing it.

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  1. megan

    I often struggle with when and how much time to take off, but like you I’ve gotten better. I don’t take off every minor holiday, but I look forward to our annual week camping at the lake every summer to unplug and unwind.

    What part of PA will you be in? If you’re in my neck of the woods, we should meet up!

  2. Jill

    Have FUN at the show today… I’m sure you will! I love your sense of balance… it’s inspiring!

  3. This is a great topic! I’m really looking forward to the flexibility and freedom of self-employment when it comes to time off, but it’s a big step to make sure you actually take advantage of that flexibility! I hope, when the time comes, I can find the same sort of balance you have! Thanks for giving us some insight into how you approach vacations and time off =)

  4. Thanks for this, Jess. Sometimes we’re so conditioned to the 9-5 (or much more) life that taking time off, or away from our desks, feels weird. Like hookie. There’s guilt built in there that’s not productive.

    I try to take advantage of my flexible schedule as much as I can, but I still struggle. I like that you said I can’t blame anyone but myself if I’m burnt out. You’re right.

  5. Thaís

    I really think that it’s one of the advantages of being the owner of your business, you can organize your life in the most convenient way … unfortunately, it’s not my case yet. I hope you have great vacations on July!

  6. Field trips are SUCH a great idea. So, we moved to WP and we’re using new dimensions for our buttons. Can you send us a 167×80 button when you get a chance?

  7. What a great topic. It is something I have struggled with for years but I like your schedule and plan to tack this on my inspiration board: “work days, vacation days and field trips”! One of my biggest struggles was working from home and knowing even “after work” there was still more work to be done. I literally had to close the door to the office and walk away! Thanks Jess for your continued inspiration and sharing, it helps!

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