This seems like kind of a ridiculous post to write, doesn’t it? Who needs a reminder to take time off?? But as self-employed business owners, when no one is handing out paid vacation, it can be easy to work straight through the year without a single break.
We work as hard or harder than most people with a normal 9-to-5 job (many of you I’m sure are rocking both a corporate job and a side hustle!), but since we’re in charge of every little thing, we’re much less likely to take time off.
It’s worry over money or guilt for leaving your desk for too long, or even piling on so much work that you CAN’T take time off. For me it’s two things – a matter of habit (I’m USED to working a ton and not taking vacation time) and the non-stop stream of people kicking ass online making me not want to slow down myself.
But taking time off is one of the MOST important parts of running a business solo. We MUST take breaks and take them often if we want to keep producing, generating new ideas, and performing at full strength.
So to help make sure you get that break to relax and recharge, here are my favorite ways to force myself to get out of the house and away from my computer so I don’t burn out by the end of the year.
It’s one of those self-employed luxuries most of us totally ignore, but going to the movies in the middle of the day is bliss. No lines, no crowds, plus cheaper tickets and an entire row to yourself! Going to the movies alone is one of those things I never did until I was in my 30’s, but I’m so glad I finally gave it a shot. It’s not awkward, I promise!
Make a monthly appointment
Every month, I get a massage. Mostly it’s because my muscles need relief from all the climbing and conditioning and weird positions I put myself in, but it’s also a perfect reason to step away from my computer and do literally nothing for an hour. Any sort of service you can treat yourself to once a month, like getting your hair or nails done, is a great way to add a little break into your schedule.
Read a book (like an actual book)
Not on your Kindle or your phone (where texts and tweets will likely interrupt)…a real printed book. I read books on my phone for a few years and recently have gone back to real books again. (I like to highlight and write in all my books but the library is a good option too.) It’s so stress relieving to turn off my phone at night or in the middle of the day and get sucked into a new book. Plus – book smell, definitely missed that when I was reading on my phone!
Get a hobby / take a class
This is something my mother tells me often and much to the annoyance of my teenage self, she is always right. Learn to paint, learn to fly, learn to hit a hole in one. Pick something that you pay for in advance so you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Activities that require 100% attention and focus are a plus – there’s no way I’m thinking about work when I’m spinning upside down, trying to look graceful, and not fall on my face.
Find a buddy
If you’re really bad at taking time off, find someone who is equally in need of a break and hold each other accountable. Yes, like a workout buddy, some of us need a partner to remind us to get our shit together and back away from the to-do list. Make a plan to escape for at least an hour once a week, EVERY week.
Bake / cook
This has been my go-to lately – there are currently two tins of Christmas cookies on the counter and a loaf of bread in the oven. Taking the time to prep, bake, and eat means I need to step away from work for an hour or two and feed myself like a normal human being, and (bonus!) I don’t actually have to leave the house or spend a ton of money.
Don’t binge watch TV
I know, I know, I want to find out what happens at the end too, but I’ve come to really enjoy stopping in the middle of the day to make lunch and eat while watching one of my favorite shows. So instead of knocking out an entire series in one weekend, I go sitcom-style and watch an episode a day. Currently working my way through last season’s Shark Tank.
Book a mini vacation
You don’t have to fly to Aruba to get a little R&R. I guarantee no matter where you live there is somewhere interesting to go within a few hours. Book two nights at a winery, spend the weekend exploring museums, take yourself out for a fancy diner and a night at a hotel with an indoor pool. Just leave the damn house for a couple of nights and no, your computer is not invited to come along! Bonus for us solopreneurs – we can vacay in the middle of the week and avoid crowds, tourists, and those high weekend rates!
Schedule a “think week”
This is something Bill Gates has been doing since he started Microsoft and I love the idea so much I’m doing it myself this week. My email will get a little less attention and I’m not prepping or planning anything; I’m just over here, on the couch, eating nachos, and whipping through a pile of books. I’m halfway through Essentialism and Big Magic, finished Quiet Power Strategy, and The Personal MBA is up next. (Lots more book ideas over here >>>)