Why I Decided to Take Time Off from Food Blogging
In a couple weeks my food blog will turn 10 years old. I have been a diligent blogger since the moment I started. Granted, many of those years I now know I was working on so many wrong things, but I have always worked really hard and I’ve been extremely dedicated and consistent about publishing new content regularly.
Throughout my blogging journey I’ve had periods where I’ve actually reached that dreaded blogging burnout. And I’m talking about “burnout” as in, I was mentally unwell and wanted to run screaming for the hills and never ever come back. Despite those stretches, I never left blogging. I love this job. It fills me up in a way that I’ve never creatively been filled up before. So as much as I wanted to leave at times, I always had this underlying knowing that I had to stick with it.
A little over 2 years ago I came to a point where I realized I hadn’t been working on the right things and that I needed to dig in in a new way, which also involved immersing myself into the community (yes, I’d embarrassingly avoided this for a really really long time). It was shortly after that realization when I also realized I loved the business side of food blogging, so in a nutshell: My job duties became more plentiful really quickly.
Fast forward to last summer, one year ago.. I had just launched the Eat Blog Talk podcast, so I was immersed in that as well as keeping my food blog afloat. Life was crazy and that is an understatement. I was a MESS. I was in tears almost every day. I basically ignored my children for the entire summer, which led to guilt and more stress and it just snowballed and I found myself teetering on the edge of the dark place I’d visited in the past.
While I’m SO happy I started Eat Blog Talk and I have no regrets about that, I acknowledge that I did not go about it in the right way. There was no planning involved. I just dove in head first and very quickly felt like I was drowning.
After that initial 3 months or so was over after the podcast launched, I kinda looked back on that stretch of time in amazement. I couldn’t believe I had just survived it. I couldn’t believe my boys and husband had survived me surviving it. I couldn’t believe my house was still in one piece and that I was still mostly sane. I took this all in and recognized the miracle that it was and vowed to myself that I would never let that happen again.
That’s when I got really obsessed with creating visions and setting goals and sticking to a plan (and not just adding a whole second job to my life without any forethought). Through all of this thought and reflection about visions and goals I created a course, which was kind of a cool, unexpected byproduct. But most importantly, I actually started thinking ahead to the future and figuring out what I wanted and didn’t want in my life.
Having just been through a summer of hell, I knew I wanted to take an entire month off work the following year so I could actually enjoy these people in my life who I adore so much. So I basically used all of the information I’d put together for my course and applied it to my own life and business and just made a bunch of stuff happen.
One of those things I really wanted to happen was to take July 2020 completely off work. When I made the goal it sounded nuts. In almost 10 years I’d never taken anywhere close to that amount of time off work. But. I knew deep in my soul that it needed to happen. So I made a plan, followed through and.. It happened!
What Happened When I Actually Took the Time Off
Here’s what happened when that anticipated time came that was work-free!
Week 1 off work “Detox Unawares” – I constantly fought the urge to open my computer and check my phone. It was so ingrained in me to do both of these things regularly, that it was like a nervous twitch I had to work through. I thoroughly enjoyed family time that week, but I struggled with staying away from the devices. I managed to only open up my laptop twice that first week and that was only to check email. Small miracle.
Week 2 off work “Addiction Awareness” – Time with my family became even more enjoyable as I acclimated to tech-free time. Oh and I also came to the realization that I was addicted to technology. I resisted tapping on that little blue and white email icon on my phone approximately 9,000 times that week.
Week 3 off work “Bliss” – This was the best week of vacation by far because I’d worked through my detox and was emotionally detached from work and just thoroughly enjoyed my family.
Week 4 off work “Prepare for Re-Entry” – I slowly began getting my feet wet with small bits of work so the transition wouldn’t be quite as abrupt.
Week 1 back at work “Hello WORK!” – I won’t lie, the first few official days back were rough, but I’d expected this. It didn’t take long though to step back into food blogging and podcasting. By Day 3 I felt almost 100% back to normal. Except with new knowledge about myself. So really, I was better off than before.
What I Learned and Why YOU Should Take Time Off
Lesson #1 Technology addiction is a real thing. This was NOT something I expected going into my no-work month, but it very quickly became clear that I had a serious technology addiction. Now, after working through all of that thanks to my time off, I only check my phone for three reasons:
- To spend intentional time on Instagram.
- To watch a Marco Polo from coworkers or friends.
- To write or answer texts. (Oh and I guess I occasionally answer the phone if it rings, but who makes phone calls anymore.)
Also since coming back to work, I only open my computer for two reasons:
- To spend intentional time working (and I never ever work past 5:00pm anymore, which is the BEST THING EVER).
- To do a beachbody workout.
By the way, a nice byproduct of stepping away from unnecessary tech time is an increase in productivity and happiness, which leads me to..
Lesson #2 Revealing and refreshing. Since being back I’ve had a lot on my plate (see: new community platform launching!), but I haven’t once felt actual stress. It’s like, I know I have a long to-do list every day, but that somehow doesn’t translate into worry and stress like it did before. Without that time off, I would be a mess right now.
The time off also allowed me to spend tons of quality time with my family and I feel closer to them than ever before. Who knew that vacation without work was a thing! Seriously though, this was a really positive thing for my boys especially to see because they have a mom who works a lot. We all needed that quality time with each other and now we know how amazing it is, so we have that to look forward to again (because guess what: this month-off business will be happening again soon).
Lesson #3 A lesson in control. Something else I took away from this was that I didn’t need to do all of those things I’d always thought that nobody else could do. I handed a few things off to my VA during my July vacation that I was honestly a little nervous about, but guess what. Everything was fine. I’m a control freak about a lot of things relating to my job and it was good for me to hand work over to someone else just to remind myself that other people can accomplish my work tasks just as successfully as I can.
Lesson #4 Creativity surge. Not having my brain overloaded with constant work issues made space for so much creativity. I had so many great ideas for work projects during my time off and I also put a focus on writing in my journal, which is a portal for creativity. ONLY good things come from allowing more creativity into your days, so this was a huge benefit for me.
Lesson #5 New habits. When I re-entered the real world again, I had a new set of eyes. A refreshed set of eyes. I wasn’t rushing around like a crazy woman. I was appreciating so much more about the people and world around me. So I saw this as an opportunity to start a few new habits that I’d been wanting to put in place for um, years. Now, in the mornings, after I work out I sit on my front porch with a cup of coffee and just allow myself to sit. It’s life-changing, you guys, this “just sitting” stuff. I’m kind of addicted. The time after time off is a great time to incorporate new habits into your life.
Lesson #6 No suffering . This was a real worry I had before taking the time off. I worried that my VA would be stretched too far and that I would spend my vacation stressing over details. I wondered if my audience would notice I was gone and hate me for leaving. None of these worries came to life. They were just that.. worries.
HOW to make it happen
After hearing about my experience with taking time off and the good things that have come from it, you might be thinking that you want to try this yourself! I hope you do! Because it’s very very possible with some intentional planning.
- First, decide how long and when you want to take off. If you’ve never done this before start with 2 weeks. Also, make sure it’s far enough out, so don’t plan NOW to take next month off. Give yourself 4-6 months to plan, schedule and prepare.
- Next you’ll need to sit down with your editorial calendar and logistically figure out how to make, photograph and write the recipes that will get published during the time you take off. For example, if you want to take the first 2 weeks of December off and you publish 2 new posts every week, you’ll need to squeeze 4 additional recipes into your editorial calendar to cover those 2 weeks you’re taking off. And actually, I recommend adding an additional week to that just to give yourself some cushion. So that would be 6 recipes that you’d need to fit into your editorial calendar.
- Then you will need to write out a list of every task that YOU are responsible for on a regular basis. Over the coming weeks and months you’ll need to start putting a plan together about how to make sure these tasks will be covered during your time off. For all of the tasks on your list, either automate, delegate or eliminate. If you have a VA, you can have him or her cover some of the duties. Or this might be a good opportunity to start scheduling content that you previously have been doing manually. You can dive into automation software like Zapier to automate certain tasks. Or maybe you see this as a chance to NOT DO some of the tasks on your list to see what happens! An example of this would be to not post IG stories while you take your vacation and see how your audience responds to that (most likely they’ll jump right back in as if you’d never left once you’re back at it).
Really, that’s it, but you do have to obviously follow through with the plan. Stick to your editorial calendar like it’s etched in stone. Chip away at finding solutions for all of those tasks that YOU are responsible for. And like I mentioned earlier, give yourself some wiggle room. If you’re flying to Maui for the first 2 weeks of December, have all of your content scheduled and tasks covered for the week following your trip, as well. I actually prefer having even more wiggle room, but 1 week is great, too.
And that’s it!
So easy, right?! Seriously, I get it. I know how much time and effort and energy food blogging requires, so I know this might seem like an insurmountable venture but I promise you it is possible. And not just possible, but WORTHWHILE. More than worthwhile.
You will come away from your time off feeling more refreshed and clear-headed than ever. You’ll have a new appreciation for WHY you decided to be a food blogger in the first place. You will have opened up mental space for creativity and innovation and so much more. Your family and friends will appreciate the quality time they get with you. You’ll be a more patient person and a happier business owner. I really hope you try this.
If you to make something similar happen but you need a little help in doing so, we can set up a time to strategize a bit about how to make this happen for you. Send me an email at [email protected] with the subject line STRATEGY and we can set something up!