Pop quiz: When was the last time you took time off from your business?
Not a weekend, like actual scheduled time off where you put up your out-of-office email responder, gave your Instagram audience a heads up, and turned off everything to give yourself some time to rest.
Betting it’s been a while!
In this week’s episode I’m sharing why time off is so important and how to start adding breaks into your schedule right now.
I’ve had this same conversation with three people just in the past week. They tell me I’m exhausted, I don’t know what do do, nothing is working and I feel like giving up!
And I’m betting a lot of you are feeling the same. Maybe because of the election, maybe because of where you are in your business, or maybe it’s because you never give yourself a freaking break.
Often when we run into a wall with what to do next or trying to finish a project, instead of stepping back we start working harder.
If I just do more.
If I scrap this and try a different strategy.
If I try what seems to be working for that person.
If I put time into all these little tasks that are nagging at me.
We feel like we need to hustle more when the better solution is to just STOP.
And there’s a reason we, especially in the US, and especially women, feel like the solution is to work harder, do more, or do something different.
First – we are on Instagram, scrolling all day, seeing people sharing behind the scenes and it looks like everyone else is happily, effortlessly working nonstop. They’re having fun, they’re connecting, creating content, growing their engagement, they’re not having these problems.
So we feel like if we just worked a little harder, if we just did more of the right things, if we just showed up more or posted more, that our business would grow more.
And second – we feel like hustling is the answer because it’s an expectation, especially American society, that if you work harder, you earn more, you go further, and you get there faster.
I’m gonna call out my dad on this one – he put a reminder on their fridge that said, “the harder I work, the luckier I get” and it makes sense that he feels that way because he worked his entire career in a corporation. So replaced it with a note that said, “the happier I am, the luckier I get.” Feels a little better, right?
I’ve noticed in reading business and personal growth books, biographies of people who are running big, successful companies – they take time out to think. Which can be very uncomfortable for most of us because we aren’t rewarded for taking a break. It’s actually looked down upon like we’re procrastinating, putting it off, being lazy.
Even though procrastination is characterized as negative, what I’ve learned is that if you procrastinate, let’s say you know that at the end of next week you have a presentation due, most people feel bad putting off that work until a day or two before the deadline. But what actually happens is that in the space that you are “procrastinating,” your brain still is focused on that project behind the scenes and it’s not going to stop focusing on it until you are finished.
While we feel guilty for procrastinating, we’re actually allowing ourselves time to think about that project more. So there is a chance that procrastination could actually make your presentation better.
So here’s what I recommend if you are feeling stuck, stalled, overwhelmed, or if you just never give yourself time off.
1 ➜ You need to be taking your weekends off.
Now I say this with a caveat – if you are at the beginning of building your business, in that season of hustling, or if you are still working a full-time job, taking weekends off might not be so easy.
When I was working to leave my full-time job I was glued to my laptop every night and every weekend and there were plenty of nights that I was so exhausted and overwhelmed I needed to have an ugly cry so that I could get up the next morning and get back to work.
So if you’re in that space, try your best to find a half-day or take a few nights off every week so you have time to recharge.
But if you are in a season where your business is running and you’re making money then you need to be taking off your nights and weekends.
I have this conversation over and over again with the people I mentor, with the students in my programs, with clients. They say, “I just don’t know what to do, I am I trying to figure this out but I feel really stressed, I don’t know if I’m doing the right things.” And my question is always, “When is the last time you fully took a weekend off?” And 100% of the time their response is something like, “Ummmm six months ago??”
So that’s the first thing to do if you’re hitting a wall, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, if you are hating the job you created for yourself. Take a freaking weekend off!
2 ➜ You need to have full weeks off, multiple times a year.
And this is an issue that even comes up when working in a corporate job or working for someone else too, so it’s not just a solopreneur issue.
According to research by the U.S. Travel Association, 55% of Americans don’t take all of their paid time off. Even in a company where there are other people to pick up the slack, even in a company where you get paid to take a break – people still don’t do it.
And American companies are not required to offer PTO (paid time off), while in many other countries – France, Germany, Japan, Spain – a certain number of paid days off is required. Why? Because they know that workers perform better when they’re able to take a guilt free break.
And it’s not always the employee’s fault. Maybe their work environment makes them feel guilty for taking their PTO or they’ve been given so much work they can’t find the space in their schedule for a break.
When we work for ourselves not only is working nonstop a societal expectation but when we are doing all of the jobs ourselves it feels like it just isn’t possible.
But I promise you if you don’t take a break you will either burn out or start hating your job when this is supposed to be a fun, fulfilling business you have passion for!
3 ➜ If you want to take your time off to the next level, add space just for thinking into your work week.
Not scrolling Instagram for solutions, not in Facebook groups asking questions. Just sitting (or walking) and thinking.
I watched the Bill Gates documentary on Netflix and that is something he has scheduled into his work week. Maybe it’s a couple hours on Friday, maybe it’s the last hour of your Tuesday, fit it in where ever you can make space (but not on nights or weekends).
So we’re kind of looking at three levels of taking a break, giving yourself space to think, and letting your brain rest and recharge.
- Working to take off those nights and weekends
- Taking actual vacation time multiple times a year
- Adding space into your workweek to just sit and think
Because I can tell you from experience you will feel so much better about your business and what you’re creating if you are able to give yourself some distance from it.
It’s like you’re trying to put a screw into a wall with a hammer and you’re hammering and hammering and hammering you can’t figure out why the screw will not go into the wall. But if you took two minutes to step back you might realize that you’re gonna need a nail or screw driver to remedy the situation.
But that’s exactly what we do to ourselves – we hammer away at the problem, we don’t take time to step back and we worry that if we do take time off we’re going to fall behind. But often the opposite happens – you take a break and can then come back to the problem with new ideas, new questions, or maybe realize the problem isn’t a problem at all.
When I started my business working as a web designer I would often be coding late into the night. I would get stuck on an issue and I would waste hours trying lots of different things. But often if I would just close my laptop and go to sleep the next morning I would wake up with the solution. A solution I completely missed because I was hammering away so intensely I just couldn’t see it.
So my challenge to you this week is:
1 ➜ Take a day off this weekend.
I don’t care what day it is – Sunday, Friday, Monday – whatever works for your schedule. It’s time to set some boundaries with your business, with your family, with your friends, and ditch whatever excuse you’re coming up with. Because if you are on the struggle bus you need to come to a full stop in order to get off.
2 ➜ Get out your calendar and give yourself a week off.
Reminder: you’re the boss and you can give yourself time off whenever you want and you should be doing so at least once a quarter. I even hear business owners say they take a week off every single month. Wouldn’t that be amazing – just a week to chill and think and let yourself recharge??
We’re all aware of the number of jobs we take on when we start a business. We’re the CEO, but we’re also the designer, copy editor, sales team, video editor, content creator, accountant, customer service rep – we’re doing 15 jobs and we’re not even taking enough vacation for one of those!
So if you’re on board with making a plan to take a break, screenshot this episode, post it on your IG stories and tag me at @XOSarahMorgan and let me know when you’re taking your next time off!