What We're Talking About

What We’re Talking About: The Luxury of Time Off

by Grace Bonney

The past few weeks have been full of interesting developments here at D*S. Both personally and professionally, our team has been taking all sorts of big steps forward and I’ve been thinking a lot about what might have caused all of that. There are a million reasons why people choose to make any big decision, but I’ve started to come back to the idea that the best decisions happen when you take some time off and cut yourself some slack. Amy, Max and I are all card-carrying work-a-holics, but we all seem to really enjoy what we do, so taking time off doesn’t always come naturally. Combine that with the fact that we live in a city where NOT taking time off is heralded as the ultimate achievement and you’ve got the recipe for some seriously over-worked brains.

The biggest issue for me with taking time off is losing control. Delegating, accepting change or loss because of time-not-worked. It’s like the workaholic’s version of FOMO addiction. But looking around at my friends and co-workers this summer, I’ve seen such beautiful things happening when people choose to step away from work for a bit: first homes are purchased, relationships grow and ideas start to flow more easily when your mind can relax a bit. So I started to think about what my recipe for time off is– the sure-fire steps I take to make sure I relax a bit. And I wondered what YOUR recipes for time off were, too. I love hearing how people ensure their own health, happiness and restoration. Here are my go-tos, what are the ways you guys unwind and unplug from work to enjoy your lives a little more?

My Recipe for Time Off:

1. The post-breakfast nap. I can’t take time off from morning walks with Hope, so I prefer to follow them with a huge breakfast and an immediate post-breakfast nap. Nothing looks as good as your bed after a plate of pancakes covered in honey butter and syrup.

2. Email bounce-backs. I typically loathe bounce-backs, but when I need to unplug for a bit, I like to set one up for both my work and personal email so I know there’s a last line of defense in case anything serious or important happens. That way I’m not worrying about work or missed emails during my time off.

3. No live TV or internet. Disengaging from TV news, Instagram and Facebook for a while brings you back to a time and place where the only thing that matters is the present. I can’t stress how good this is for your brain. All that image-overload makes my mind feel like a storage cabinet that’s always being crammed with something new.

4. Indulgence. Lattes, chocolate croissants, french fries. Whatever my vice is, I let myself have it without a second thought. On vacation I want to only feel what it’s like to say YES to things that will make me happy.

5. Family. I do my best family catch-ups on my days off. I’m not thinking about work deadlines or other projects and I can really devote myself to listening and engaging in conversations rather than giving 50% of my time. Those calls with my parents are always the best.

Suggested For You


  • I’m taking a staycation at the end of the month and I will definitely be using this as my guide. #1 Indulgence I’m looking forward to – getting a manicure and pedicure!

  • Love this! There are advice posts all over the Internet, obvs, but hearing advice from such a successful, creative biz lady (one that I’ve followed for years) is especially motivating. I’ve listened to the “Raising the Bar” podcast twice already… Anyway, thanks for writing this, Grace, and keep it up!

  • Love this post Grace! Even though I work from home, I make it a point to take an actual lunch everyday. I turn off my phones and computer and just enjoy a nice meal. If it’s an especially hectic day, I like to take a few dance breaks where I put on my fav record and jump around a bit…it always helps :)

  • Great post! I keep in mind that I always bring back plenty of inspiration for my creative work when I take time away. (Helps alleviate the Type-A guilt a little.) I also try to schedule a little decompression time between the shift from working time to vacation time (a half day to pack, run errands or just rest). There’s nothing worse than being completely frazzled when you start a vacation.

  • cleaning!

    there is NOTHING better than decompressing in a fresh space. we live in a small apartment, which begs for a quarterly goodwill drop. taking time off to prioritize and organize the space is capital.

    also… i’m building a deck right now. when you work on a computer, taking time off to make something physical feels amazing.

  • Pajama Sundays. I give myself permission to stay in my pj’s all day. If I have something I want to do, I get dressed and go–but it has to be creative and fun! It was the best gift I ever gave myself.

  • Such an important topic, as us humans somehow forget the decencies of just living. I can relate this feeling to my art making. Knowing when to walk away, take my eyes off of things and revisit another day ALWAYS makes the work more enjoyable and ultimately of better quality. What else helps me: Doing absolutely nothing all day but things a child would do at the fun grandma’s house- eat what you want, watch what you want, color something, get dirty, etc. Don’t call it a guilty pleasure on that day because there’s nothing to feel guilty about.

  • Bath + face masque
    A perfect homemade cocktail
    A big, new juicy novel
    if all fails, Firefly dvds!

  • I try my best to take a daily walk (sometimes two!). No cellphone. It’s one of the only times that I’m ever completely alone. It simultaneously works to clear my head and also inspire a ton of ideas, if that makes any sense at all.

  • “Like the soil, mind is fertilized while it lies fallow, until a new burst of bloom ensues.”
    ― John Dewey, Art as Experience

  • I would add walking in the countryside ( if you are so lucky as to live in ot near it) with or without a dog ( preferably your own).I only have to walk for about half an hour or so ( no-I lie- even 10 minutes does the trick )- with my two little dogs, Maud and Millie, in the rolling hills just outside my door and I come back less stressed , more upbeat and refreshed, with a new view on things.Being in nature, listening to the birds singing, sort of connects you back to things that matter and you can look at things with fresh eyes.

    If you have a garden -or even a small patch on your veranda or balcony – or a flat roof with some pots- pottering around, deadheading and looking at your plants and checking on how they are growing , watering them and caring for them also makes you completely switched off .

    Anyway, it works for me :-) .( As does doodling instead of working hahaha).



  • Fantastic article! It’s so true – time off should be celebrated when you work hard and not thought of as a weakness.

    Alas, I’m guilty of this too though. I rarely take time off as I truly do love my work. However, last Friday my brain was feeling particularly frazzled so I decided to take a half day and enjoy some gardening in this glorious sunshine (that’s so rare in the UK).

    I have to recommend it highly. I started work yesterday with a real spring in my step and lots of ideas for a project I was totally stuck on last week. So, if you are contemplating it too, go on… give it a try.

    Heather xxx

  • It’s refreshing to know I’m not alone in the fear of loosing control part of taking time off. Thank you for the reminder of how good time off can be for the body and the MIND!

  • Every few weeks I schedule a day where I do not leave the home/yard. Not for anything. If people want to come over, that is fine, but I do not get in the car and go out into the world. Sometimes I work hard on those days, in the yard or house, others not so much. I might sit and read, or lie on the sofa and watch a movie, or mow the lawn or sew. It really doesn’t matter, as long as it all just flows from what I feel like doing, and there is no going out in the world. When I can’t do that, I love just taking my morning coffee out on the deck for a few minutes and enjoying the cool, fresh morning.

  • A step back definitely leads to steps forward and new ideas. If I can’t go super far away, I like to pick a place on the NYC subway map and just GO! City Island, Coney Island, a random neighborhood in Brooklyn; seeing new places in and around the city is a great way to unplug and get inspired. And it never hurts to treat yourself to a cappuccino for the walk, either.

  • I LOVE THIS. After an earlier post you did about six days Internet-free, I’ve been meaning to unplug, but haven’t yet. I really love that you keep exploring this idea– that we need to just be, and be in the moment, in order for our brains and selves to really show is what they can do!

    Yesterday I was reading a blog that I follow and a guest poster spoke about how her father-in-law glorifying and valuing challenging situations, and her example is that on vacation he stays in a woodland cabin with no Internet. Is our society at a place where being away from the Internet or a mobile phone for any period of time is seen as tough and challenging?

    Your business which you love and nurture and invest in is online, so you see the value of the Internet, but I really appreciate that you’re putting your observations and experiences on stillness and away time here for us to ponder and be inspired by!

    Thanks for everything, Grace!

  • I saw “bounce-backs” and had to pause. Sorry I know this is picky but I think you meant to say “auto replies”. A bounce back implies undelivered email. Personally, I am most appreciative when I receive an auto reply from someone who’s away from their business email. I think its a nice courtesy. I never set them up in my personal accounts.

  • Post breakfast naps!!! Yes, I take those every weekend. On Saturdays I start the washing machine on a log cycle, and take a nap. Ninety minutes later, voila, one task done and refreshing nap taken! On Sundays it is the turn of the dishwasher :-)

  • Love the post-breakfast nap idea. :) For me, my “Time Off” recipe involves (1) no commitments, which means I can take a nice long walk with my dog without worrying about getting to work on time, (2) sitting on the porch, couch, floor with a hot drink, (3) no electronics, (4) indulgence/good food. I’ll also usually paint or write. :)