If you’re subscribed to my newsletter or saw this post on Instagram, you know I’ve been in a bit of a state lately. It’s made me think a lot about where I’ve been for a long while, and where I need to be when it comes to any sort of work-life balance, which, for a long time, has been a work-work-work-life of self-flagellation.
Let’s lead with the what’s changing with my schedule and then I’ll get into why.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve packed orders on Tues / Thurs / Sunday, meaning they were collected by the post on Wed / Friday / Monday.
From here on out, I will be packing orders late in the evenings on:
Meaning that packages will be collected by the post on the mornings of:
This means if you order on Friday (or after I pack orders Thursday night), that there is one extra business day before your order is collected by the post office. But if you order earlier in the week, say Monday, your order will go out in the mail a business day sooner.
Essentially, get your orders in before Thursday night or it won’t get packed up until Monday night and then shipped out until Tuesday morning. So why the change?
I’m overworked, and it’s taking its toll
I wrote this post now 7 years ago, and while a lot has changed, the overall sentiment hasn’t.
When I first started on this adventure, now nearly seven years ago [ note: it is now 13 years since I started NightBlooming ], I had no idea that the store would ever pan out, much less be this successful. It has, and I am eternally grateful to my endlessly supportive husband, to my customers, and to whatever bit of luck, chance, or fate played into it.
At times people inquire if NightBlooming is my job. It’s a fairly popular store [ note: that has since grown to be in the top 1% of Etsy stores ] and I do brisk business, so it isn’t a bad assumption. But no, it isn’t my “real” job; I have a normal 40-hours a week full time career. I enjoy what I do there, but it isn’t the same level of fulfillment as NightBlooming. I read somewhere that there are three types of work: jobs (where you’re just there long enough to get someplace else), career (where you stick with it, do it well enough and like it well enough), and passion (work that you love). My day job is my career, NightBlooming is one of my passions.
I have no time to just enjoy things. Every day, every weekend, is a calculated to-do list. Falling behind means a snowball effect that is nearly impossible to recover from.
I haven’t painted in years. I haven’t drawn in just as long. We have a beautiful yard that I have never once just sat and read a book in because there’s always something else more pressing. I miss my hobbies. I miss relaxing. I miss spending time with my husband.
I can’t just quit my day job, tempting as that thought is some days. My shop, while successful, isn’t nearly enough to live on. And I don’t mean “having miniature giraffes” lifestyle; I mean “covering my half of the mortgage and bills” lifestyle. Then there’d be the additional costs of having to pay for insurance out of pocket, not having a company contribution to my 401k, etc. The sacrifices of leaving my day job are substantial, but it’s NightBlooming that makes me happy.
I wrote that 7 years ago. I could have written it today–the sentiment hasn’t changed. This has actually gotten even worse since I committed to chasing my heart’s dream of publishing The Iyarri Chronicles. For the past five years I’ve been working over 100 hours a week (day job + writing / publishing + NightBlooming). I published independently so I would retain my rights and keep creative control over my books, but that’s also meant that all the money from NightBlooming has been paying for that. I can’t scale back on the store because each one of my books costs me between $20,000 and $25,000 to publish and print. I can’t quit the day job because that’s what pays the bills.
What I am doing is unhealthy (no shit, right?). I still miss drawing and painting. I still miss my husband.
As I come to the end of this trilogy (I may publish more books in the future, and will continue to post works on Patreon, but the book-a-year sprint is done for now), as my husband had to more or less stage an intervention to keep me sane on this last stretch, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about where to go from here.
The need for boundaries
I pride myself on making my customers happy. On being the kind of store I’d want to shop from. That means quick shipping, caring and prompt responses, and quality, natural products.
But to make this balancing act work, I haven’t had a real weekend in…I won’t pretend I can remember. Every Sunday night is spent packing orders. Most Saturdays are spent making products for the store. I respond to convos and emails all hours of the day and night, even on weekends.
My husband has sacrificed so very, very much so I can chase my dreams. He doesn’t complain, but I know he misses me and it’s important for us to be actual human beings who can go out and do things together.
If I want NightBloooming to be my job, I’d better start acting like an employer I want to work for
Americans work more hours than any other county, including Japan, and they literally have a word Karoshi (過労死, Karōshi), which can be translated literally as “overwork death.” It’s hard to let that “productivity and overwork is a virtue” mindset go.
At times, I’ve let a convo I get on a Saturday night or Sunday morning slide until Monday (after a marathon of packing on Sunday) and… while most people are understanding, I’ve gotten some doozies of messages demanding to know why I didn’t get back to them sooner. That’s one of the things about Etsy, people know that it’s a very small business run from home and therefore they don’t think people keep ‘normal’ business hours. Or maybe that’s just my perception?
My husband and I can never make plans on Sunday, or I’ve had to take Mondays off to recoup it because I have to get home and pack orders. Meaning everything else, DIY stuff, shopping, housework, etc. gets crammed into Saturday, on top of the ‘making stuff for the store’ which also gets stuffed into Saturday and Sunday.
If I applied for a job and they told me the hours and times I’d be working are the ones I do for NightBlooming I’d tell them to get bent.
Future Planning, starting now
Making NightBlooming my real job is years off yet… but I have a plan in the works to make that happen. The first big step was publishing The Iyarri Chronicles; I’ll stop bleeding money into my books by the end of this year. My husband and I have some financial milestones that we want to achieve after that, and that’ll take some time, but I have clear steps and goals to that end.
That means I need to start setting myself up now for healthy work practices, otherwise when it is my only job I’ll still let it bleed over to where it shouldn’t be.
That means giving myself Friday night to eat pizza and play video games. That means weekends off packing orders. I don’t expect any store I order from to be packing orders on Sunday nights, but that’s what I’ve done 3-10 hours, every Sunday night, for over a decade. That means starting to shift my thought on shipping times to ‘business days’ rather than just ‘days.’ That means making sure I take breaks (I’ve been pretty good about taking one week off in the summer and one week at the end of the year, so that’s something I’m doing right! The standing problem, then, is that ‘off’ is usually ‘tackling a big to-do list of other stuff that’s built up,’ but that’s a problem for Future Me to address.
I’ll still have products to make on the weekend, I’m still going to be working two jobs, but I feel this is at least a much-needed first step.
This was a long post for a schedule change that could have fit in a tweet, but I feel that you lovelies come to NightBlooming, in part, because you like buying from a person and there’s a lot of personal things driving this change. If you have thoughts or feedback on all this, let me know in the comments. <3