Packing & Shipping Schedule Change

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:

  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Thursday

Meaning that packages will be collected by the post on the mornings of:

  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Friday

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

31 thoughts on “Packing & Shipping Schedule Change”

  1. I’m really glad to see you make this step. You work absolutely INSANE hours and I for one 100% support you establishing more healthy habits and realistic goals. Seriously, I know overworked, coffee- and Red Bull-powered graduate students who get more sleep than you do on a daily basis.

    I think you (and your customers!) will find that spending more time doesn’t necessarily equate to more productivity, as you yourself have concluded. Having more room for creative energy away from packing and shipping orders will ultimately be good for products, your store, and your customers.

    Fantastic post.

    1. Hahaha aye, I suppose if you’re going to underscore it with grad students then that’s a pretty damning comparison XD I think you’re right, too, that more breathing room will give me some time to recharge those creative wells–and ultimately that creativity is what drives everything I do!

  2. Good for you setting boundaries! You are an absolute treasure and deserve to relax. I am constantly amazed at how much you do but your value doesn’t come from sheer productivity, it’s you and the amazing work you do. Take care of yourself.

  3. I am so so so proud of you for making this change. Rest is a verb, and I’m so glad that you’re actively changing your life for the better.

    1. You’re right, rest is a verb and I’m garbage and remembering that! Thank you for the reminder that it is something that needs done, just not the absence of doing.

  4. Tiffany Phares

    I applaud you for realizing how this is impacting you and your husband. I support the shipping changes, and honestly I would still shop with you if you decided to ship once a week. You make quality products and in my opinion that effort and quality is worth the wait.

    1. That’s so reassuring to hear! And I think, too, that people might adjust their order times once they know things take an extra day or two. I hope 🙂

  5. Melissa Vazquez

    Cheers to you for finally taking a step toward getting more, well life out of life. You’ve more than outdone yourself for years now. I know you’ve created an amazing reputation with Nightblooming but after a brief adjustment period, I’m willing to bet your customers will barely notice a difference. I’ve seen so many small business owners post that they only ship once or twice a week and they respond to messages pretty much during what would be normal business hours & that’s totally ok and normal! Unfortunately you’ve fallen into the category of “givers need to set limits because takers rarely do” on the business end. I wholly support you taking back your life a bit because hun, if you’re not getting to live while trying to do all of this you’ll be missing the point. Sure there are stretches of time where we really need to push & sacrifice but not for years on end.
    My husband & I both had to make similar life adjustments recently for pretty much burnout. Our ‘days off’ weren’t even days off most of the time but rather just a whole different set of obligations just not at work ones. It’s really helped our health, holistically to stop doing doing doing 26 hours of the day every day of the week…lol yes I intended 26! So I feel you. Don’t feel guilty for doing the best for you because you are not a 500 employee warehouse. And people need to respect that. I certainly do. Congrats on this big decision.

    1. “givers need to set limits because takers rarely do” oh wow, truer words and all that. That’s exactly it, and I’ll admit that most the pressure is internal (me wanting to provide great service) rather than external (my customers freaking out because I haven’t shipped their orders yet).

      I’m so glad to read that you and your husband made similar adjustments and that it’s been for the better <3

  6. Hi Melissa,

    Please don’t feel pressured to ship out products asap! I’m very impressed with how often you pack up products and have them sent in a week. I buy a lot of clothing from Etsy shopkeepers overseas and literally wait months for one item to arrive, both because of shipping but because each item is hand made and custom tailored to my size.

    But it’s worth the wait, because I know people and not a factory are making them and what they say about quality over quantity is true. So whatever schedule changes you make, I’m sure plenty of your customers will understand because these are hand made, hand packed products. If they wanted something instantly, that’s what wal mart and amazon would be for.

    Enjoy time with your husband! Those are the moments that will always be irreplaceable. C:

    1. Aye I think that’s true that I sometimes lose perspective on what’s normal for Etsy (I sure know when I order things that they’re not shipped promptly all the time!) Another part of that is communication–I feel better making these changes when I know that you know that I’m human and trying my best!

  7. I think setting these boundaries is a wonderful, wonderful thing for you. And I don’t think it should negatively impact your shop in any meaningful way. You have incredibly unique products that are all high quality. I have always been blown away by your shipping speeds and message response times-I have never seen another seller on Etsy or anywhere else respond consistently that quickly and I think there’s a reason for that. They’re human, you’re human, and it’s ok to put yourself and your needs before those of your customers and you can still have excellent customer service while doing so!

    I just wanted to throw out some things I’ve seen other sellers do to make shipping and prep more manageable. One sends a message automatically with every purchase that is basically their shop policy (because as I’m sure you knows a lot of people don’t read that to begin with). It lists out the days they ship and it also includes their business hours for messages. Another has an automated response that is sent as a reply to any message sent over the weekend explaining that a reply can be expected within 48 (or maybe it’s 72?) hours of the store reopening on Monday. I personally like these messages because it let’ know what to expect and then I know that the seller is actually organized and with it even if they might not get back to me right away. I’ve definitely been burned on Etsy and have not received orders (which luckily can be handled through the site quite easily even if it’s frustrating).

    My last thought, and I don’t know if it’s possible with your order volume, but could you limit the days for packaging to Monday and Wednesday and have things picked up for shipment on Tuesday and Thursday? Or you could pack them on Monday/Thursday and ship Tuesday/Friday. That would give you one more evening off and only delay delivery for most people by one to two days. I live in AK so am used to slower delivery times, but such a small delay still seems very reasonable no matter where a customer is living.

    Anyway, sending you tons of warm vibes. You hit the nail on the head with Americans and overwork (I lived and worked in Japan and was surprised how much fewer hours were worked than I expected). You deserve a life with rest and happiness and time with your husband and kitties and yourself. Thank you for your amazing hair products, even more amazing books, and sharing your wonderful creations with the world. I hope you’re able to figure out a system that gives you more of the balance you’re craving. ❤️

    1. Wow, thank you for such kind words and reassurance. I was really fretting making this change and that helped a lot! Your suggestions are also really good! The idea to have shop policies in that purchase email is a good one (you’re right, nobody reads policies)–I’d have to balance that with trying to also use that limited space to promote my books and Patreon.

      I’m mostly okay, I think, with my response times on messages. It’s a little fussy because Etsy slaps an estimate on convos like “This seller generally responds in a few hours” which is largely true, and I think I just need to treat the very few people who have been mean as the outliers they are.

      There’s merit to the just Monday / Thursday idea, too. My main hesitation there is order volume. Sunday is already my biggest packing day of the week (because I have the most days people can order leading up to it) and now I’m shifting this to a weekday after my day job. I’m wary that I might need Tuesday as an overflow day in case I just can’t finish everything on Monday. But if it proves manageable, I will scale back to just Monday / Thursday and then try to use Tues / Wed to make products that don’t need marathon sessions, making it easier to keep the weekends free!

  8. I’m in a somewhat similar position of having a 9-5 corporate job as well as a passion job that are both roughly full-time, so I empathize with your dilemma (hurray for supportive hubbies!).

    You absolutely have to set the boundaries if you want to keep your sanity. I think adjusting your packing/shipping is completely reasonable, and smart.

    Regarding convos, perhaps you can make a note in your shop that says “please allow 48 hours for a response” or “messages are answered M-F during standard business hours; please allow two business days for a response” or something to that effect.

    And you know…you’re simply never going to be able to please everyone. You have a longstanding customer base of people that adore you and your products, and quite frankly, if some people can’t respect your time, well… I mean that’s just too bad for them. I think overall, people tend to push where boundaries are loose (e.g., what can I get away with?) and tend to respect where boundaries are firm. We teach people how to treat us, kwim?

    I’m really glad you’re taking this step for yourself 🙂

  9. Hello Melissa,
    I have “known you for almost twenty years at this point (wtf did all that time go?!). I am really, really, happy to see you take this step for your on well being, the well-being and health of your relationship, and something more closely aligned to a work/life balance.

    I love all of the creative efforts that you do that benefit all of us. I want you to enjoy creating more lovely stuff for us.

    However, I have learned and been reminded of how fragile life is and how important it is to make sure the people and things that feed our hearts and souls take top priority.

    So as always, you have my full support to do what is best for you. Love always.


    1. Holy cats it’s really been almost twenty years! And you’re right, putting my husband as a priority is a must–I couldn’t have done any of this without him and I know he needs me in turn, and I need to be there in a way I haven’t in the last several years.

  10. You’ve done a good job, but take care of yourself first. I love your products but there is a thing about unfair working conditions. A big point about China and how they handle their factories and workers is that the workers are over worked, underpaid, and not cared for. And people, myself included, try to find the items we need elsewhere to make sure we are not supporting their situation.
    And while it isn’t the same thing, the same idea applies. You need to take care of yourself, and your family. I understand, and I am not the only one. I work in the Insurance industry, and I make sure not to come in on weekends. I clock in, and I clock out. If I didn’t have this ability, I would go crazy. I would hate my job. Helping people is a passion of mine, and I get to do that in the Insurance industry, but I would come to forget and hate my job if I didn’t have time for myself to decompress. You are wise to establish boundaries. There is an old adage ” good fences make good neighbors” and trying to find where those fences need to be drawn between the many hats you wear is not a trivial matter. Take as much time as you need. Your products are valuable, but your health and relationship is even more so. People often forget that when you are climbing a mountain like Everest, the finish line isn’t at the top. It’s at the bottom. Take time for yourself. Care for yourself. The people who value your products will wait. We are all only human, We are all trying out best to figure out our lives.

    1. That’s actually a way I’ve never looked at it before… that people shop at Etsy and similar places BECAUSE they want to support the humane treatment of workers, and here I am not treating myself very humanely! And the Everest comparison is another really good one. I do need to make sure I’m not keeling over at the summit and can get back down XD

  11. Please take care of yourself. I will gladly wait for my package from you to arrive if it means you and your husband have time for yourselves. Take care and have a great much deserved break.

    1. That’s so kind of you to say! And it’s reassuring to hear people say that that extra day or two isn’t a make or break deal for them 🙂

  12. Really glad to hear that you’re going to take some time for yourself. I’ve enjoyed your store for years, and I love your books, but as several other people have said, I’ll gladly wait a an extra day or few to help you keep your sanity! I know how it feels to be so overworked, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I sincerely hope that this change helps you find a more workable and happier balance for yourself. Wishing you all the best!

    1. It is going to be a really strange change… I know on paper it doesn’t seem like a big one, but it’s massively uncomfortable and scary for me to feel like I’m scaling back at all. Hitting a balance, though, that will be worth overcoming all the jitters 🙂

  13. Steven M Nichols

    Ashraiel, I fully support your decision to shift gears and restructure your time!! We are all human and finite!! I find myself admiring your work ethic more and more! I cant wait for book 3 of the Iyarri Chronicles and further. Take what time you need, we, your customers and fans will be supportive and waiting for you!! Good Luck on the rest of your ventures!! ~Bunto

    1. Aww thank you so much! I was so nervous making this change, but the positive responses like yours make me feel so much better about doing it.

  14. I’m proud of you for prioritizing the life you want to live and taking care of yourself. Many of us long time customers absolutely want you to thrive without sacrificing your happiness and well-being. <3

  15. You need and deserve this and so much more!

    As a small buisness owner who works a lot less than you. I’ve said no to do my regular work at weekends. Because if I do it once it will be more and more until I won’t have time to even breath! Lot’s of people have tried to convince me to do a job “just for them”. But I stand my ground. Because my health is more important than making everyone happy. And so is yours!

    Besides. For us Swedish customers. A day or a week later shipping won’t do much difference, when it’s taking 1-3 months to get our package anyway :p

    1. Aye it is much needed, and you’re right to establish boundaries! Part of the reason I can’t scale it back to ‘no’ work on the weekends is that with a full time day job, and the size of NightBlooming now, there’s just not enough hours in the week for it. That and the end goal is to still grow NightBlooming to the point that it’s a viable step for it to replace the day job when I get to that point. So for now, I’ll still have to make things on some weekends, but at least not have to pack things every weekend. When NightBlooming is my full time job, I’ll probably look to shift packing to Friday mornings, only making things during the week on non-packing days, and totally having my weekends back.

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