Above: The Cradle Walk at Kensington Palace
It always makes me laugh how when people picture the self-employed they often imagine us lazing about the house, idly checking Facebook in our pyjamas instead of actually working. Well, I don’t know about you guys, but if I’m working in my pyjamas it’s usually a sign that I’ve been too darn busy to have a shower and have got straight out of bed, put the kettle on and started work!
Working long hours goes with the territory when you’re growing a business but although there are times when this is absolutely 100% necessary (hello Christmas shopping season! hello freelance deadlines!) it is all too easy to get sucked into the idea that you absolutely HAVE to be working ALL the time because OH MY GOD LOOK AT MY TO DO LIST. There are always more things you could (or “should”) be doing and only you to do them and all of a sudden you’ve worked every spare hour this fortnight and are beginning to forget what it’s like to do something other than work.
Around this time last year I looked at my life and realised that this was exactly what was happening to me. One week slipped into another and another without me ever taking any proper time off and (even though I love love love my job) it was making me miserable. So I decided to make a change.
The Victoria Albert Museum
I now treat myself to one Nice Day Out per week – a whole day off, away from my studio and my emails and my To Do list. They don’t necessarily work out as exactly one each week but if I miss a week due to something unavoidable like illness or a crazy deadline I make sure to catch up the day I “owe” myself as soon as I can.
I’ve been on big trips (busy days out in London, visiting exciting exhibitions or zipping around exploring the city) and small trips (leisurely visits to nearby villages and strolls along the local river) and every single one of them has been wonderful.
Eton High Street
At first, working all the time was a really hard habit to break. I felt like I couldn’t possibly spare the time and I’d leave the house late after squeezing in a bit of work in the morning, feeling stressed and annoyed with myself for having announced on my blog that I was going to do this so I had to stick to it. But almost the moment I’d get on the train I felt the stress of my working week melt away… and the more I made plans to do interesting things on my days off the more I looked forward to them and the more they became part of my routine.
The River at Henley on Thames
Taking some regular time off has been amazing! My Nice Days Out are helping me to unwind and de-stress, returning back to work refreshed and refocused. It’s especially refreshing to have a full day unplugged from the internet (well, most of one – I do check my emails for anything urgent when I get home!) and away from the pressures of stuff like social media.
My days off are also inspiring me to take the time to properly enjoy and explore the place I live. Even if all I’m doing is visiting a park I’ve not been to before or checking out the exhibits in my local museum I feel like I’m having little adventures! I’m exploring new places, seeing new things amd soaking up inspiration in unexpected places.
Taking some proper time off is also giving me a space in my weeks in which I can slow down and take the time to look and think and let the world go by. I often take a book with me on my travels but unless my train gets delayed I rarely get much reading done. Instead, the time I’ve spent walking in parks and sitting in cafes on my own or staring out of train windows has given me a chance to think big thoughts about my life and the long-term direction of my business.
Liberty of London
My little adventures have also inspired me to go on bigger ones, stepping out of my comfort zone to take longer solo trips, organise some crafty blogger meet-ups and to say “yes” to new opportunities that have come my way.
All these things are making me happier and – slightly unexpectedly – much more focused and organised when I’m back at work. It turns out that the promise of having a day off provides the perfect motivation for self-set deadlines: get X project finished before the weekend and you can go to that exhibition you’ve been looking forward to!
The Circus, Bath
Want to schedule your own adventures?
- Even if you can’t take a whole day off, why not try taking a morning or afternoon off instead? Set aside your To Do list, turn off your laptop, mute your smartphone and go do something different.
- You could visit a place locally that’s new to you, go for a walk in the local park you never have time to visit, go to the farmers market and try some new food, meet up with a friend you’ve not seen in a while, or explore the exhibits in your town’s museum.
- Or you could simply schedule a time a week where you can sit and have a coffee on your own, somewhere nice, while you read a book or a magazine that has nothing whatsoever to do with your job… or just stare out of a window and people watch while exploring your own thoughts.
- Making time to unwind, to rest, to refresh, to explore, to discover, to de-stress, to be inspired and to have adventures should be on your To Do list along with all those business tasks and chores and all the other day to day stuff you have to get done.
- Pick a date, write it on your calendar (in pen!) and stick to it!
Tell us about your experiences scheduling adventures in the comments! Do you have something similar to a Nice Day Out that has helped you with making time for exploration?
Meet Laura | Lupin Handmade
Laura “Lupin” Howard is a designer/maker, craft writer and blogger who lives near London, England. She’s the author of two books about felt crafting (Super-Cute Felt and Super-Cute Felt Animals) – she loves hand stitching and making things with felt, and the more bright colours she’s working with the happier she is! When she’s not busy making things she’s usually writing about making things, or indulging her sweet tooth and curling up with a good book, a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake.
I love everything about this, Laura! I do take time off, but don’t always plan an activity or adventure. Of course, time off at home leads to wandering over to the computer to just check in, or paying too much attention to notifications on my phone.
I am great at taking proper vacations – I should apply that to a weekly excursion, rather than using my “days off” to run errands. I like your note about having to almost force yourself out the first few times. I’m sure I’ll need to do this myself. I’m inspired, thanks!
Thanks Arianne! 🙂
I have been enjoying the adventures in and of themselves, but they’re also *crucial* for me as without them my “time off” would be just as you describe – being taken up with chores or turning into me “just” checking my emails, etc.
It was haaard when I first started – and I still find it a bit tricky when I’m busy or feeling guilty about not getting “enough” done in a certain week – but it’s worth sticking with it xx
A wise decision! I agree that when you know you’ve got a day off planned it’s very motivating to get the work finished. I’m pretty much retired now though, so it’s fine that I’m in my PJs checking facebook!
Haha, yes there is nothing wrong with sitting in your PJs checking Facebook if that’s what you wanna do 🙂
It is soooo motivating having that carrot of a treat when you’ve finished a task. At the moment I am focusing on getting a project finished so I can go to an awesome exhibition before it ends!
My husband and I own our own business and have 4 day work weeks so that we can take time to unwind and refresh ourselves for the next project. We also schedule monthly “field trips” either to the zoo, art museum, or just a walk downtown.
What’s on your field trip list?
Love the idea of those monthly field trips, and a 4 day work week sounds fantastic 🙂
I have sooo many places I want to go “next” it’s always hard to choose. I’m hoping to take advantage of the warmer weather over the next couple of months and visit some of London’s parks and historic houses with fancy gardens. There are also some fab exhibitions on at the moment. This month I’m hoping to see some Hockney prints, tapestries by Grayson Perry and maybe the big Matisse exhibition at Tate Modern if I can get a ticket!
I just wanted to say how inspiring I found this article! I feel like it has given me “permission” to have some Nice Days Out myself so thank you so much!
Oh, I’m so glad, Kate! I hope you’ll enjoy your Nice Days Out x
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