I recently took a week off working, my first real break this year. I didn’t think it was needed, I was happy to just keep going, I hadn’t noticed I wasn’t as sharp as I can be. Taking time off when you work for yourself is tough. It’s a bit of a grey area, a taboo subject…
Why would you need time off when you’re working 50 hours a week, jumping between your part-time job, side hustle, spending time with your partner and trying to finally finish the House of the Dragon series, it’s the grind right?
It’s even harder to justify ‘time off’ if you’re lucky enough to enjoy what you do. Work doesn’t feel like work, so why would you get away from it? Surely you just keep working?
Here’s why having time off is good for you, your brain and your business.
The first few days I took ´off’ I had an uneasy guilty feeling, like there was something I should be doing. But by the third day, I felt lighter. I was enjoying being on holiday. I was exploring a new country, eating the best food and really living in the moment. Even though I was visiting lots of different places and constantly on the go, I felt refreshed. My mind was clear and I found myself coming up with blog ideas, Tweets and things that I want to spend time on when I get back to work. I found my drive again to really start pushing my ideas and my business forward.
I started planning ahead and getting excited to get back in the game - this never happened when I worked for someone else, I was excited to get back to work! Taking a step back also felt like a recalibration of sorts, letting me take an overview and check my perspective.
Now and again we all have periods when we feel overwhelmed and we seem to be riding what feels like a perfect storm. Even though in most cases we might be making mountains out of molehills.
Of course this is totally normal - stuff happens! It’s the nature of the beast. But when your nose is constantly at the grindstone there’s a real risk of sliding into a negative mindset.
By having time off and taking a step back I started to realise that I was being dramatic and a negative Nancy. I gave myself a few pep talks throughout the week, reminding myself of the journey so far, the ups and downs and that it always seems to work out. By reminding myself of the good, my mindset slowly started to change. If I had just kept on working and buried my head in the sand, this change wouldn’t have happened.
Slack messages, emails, Whatsapps, Telegrams, Google Meets, Zooms…It’s tiring. And that’s just for your business. In your downtime, you’re scrolling through Instagram, TikTok and trying to understand everything that’s happening in the world right now. It’s a bit much. You’re lost in the madness, feel overwhelmed and you’ve lost your drive.
Take a breather for a bit. Delete the BBC News app (I need to do this), turn off your Slack notifications and chill out. Give yourself the time you deserve to just be.
I decided to set myself Slack and email blocks whilst I was away. I knew I couldn’t not check in on these two things, so decided to limit myself to checking once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I felt good as I knew I wouldn’t be missing anything urgent but I wasn’t letting it take over my holiday and my time. Figure out what works for you. Life isn’t work and work isn’t life, your time off is a chance to enjoy everything else that you have going on.
Of course, sometimes it isn’t as easy as shutting the laptop, folding your arms and saying ‘that’s me done’. Everyone has a different, unique situation and it’s all relative. If you can’t commit to a full week off, book a weekend off just for you. If that’s not realistic, pick an evening once a week where you can take a step back and recharge.
If you're concerned your business may slip while you're not around - outsource. Hire a Virtual Assistant to look after the shop and keep things moving while you're away. Knowing everything is in hand you’ll be able to really enjoy that well earned downtime.
You can engage a Virtual Assistant for any length… We’re agile, can come on board, understand what’s needed and get the job done for you. Flexible and uncomplicated.
Let me know what you’ve done recently to give yourself some well deserved time off ✨