Have you ever slogged through a project at the end of the day, making very little progress, only to come back to it the next morning and knock it out in an hour or two? Giving your brain time away from your work can be all you need to find renewed vigour, but that’s not always the case.
Sometimes, a single night of rest isn’t enough to renew us. If we’ve started to find our work–or even our business–a grind, taking time off (whether it be an afternoon, weekend, or week away) can be difficult. You’re either so busy it’s not possible, or you feel guilty and spend all your time with the vague sense that something is going wrong while you’re not looking.
Last month, however, I did just that. My husband, dog and I headed off to Cornwall to disconnect from it all. Here’s what it taught me, and the key takeaways you can learn from, too:
It’s Safe to Disconnect
As business owners, there is always something else to do and, often more stress-inducing, someone to reply to. It’s easy to feel like being unable to respond to emails for even a day may cause you to lose business but the truth is, as long as you set things up properly, you can completely disconnect from your business and return to it just how you left it.
Instead of staying chained to your inbox at all hours, set up an autoresponder to let new clients know you’re out of the office and will reply as soon as you get back to your desk. If you run a business that may have a client with a true emergency, ask a VA (virtual assistant) or trusted friend to keep an eye on your emails and contact you if there really is a fire to put out.
It’s Essential for Your Mental Health
I felt refreshed returning to work after a week exploring the South West Coastal Path, indulging in pub lunches and dinners, and even reading a novel (I read regularly, but usually only business, design, or mindset books), I was rested and ready to return to work.
Like your physical health, your mental health requires care. You couldn’t run 7 hours every day for a month straight and expect to wake up at the end of it feeling fit and ready to run again. Your brain is the same. Work it constantly at the same thing, never giving it a break, and you’ll run it into the ground. At best, it will leave you uninspired, and at worst, you’ll face burnout and depression.
Make sure you frame your time off as sacred, not as the least important thing to schedule onto your calendar.
You Need to Refill the Well
Your creativity is not an endless resource. If you don’t let the well refill from time to time, you’ll wake up one day to find it dry. Spending time away from my desk, and from home, allowed me to find new sources of inspiration in the world around me. I admired nature, well-designed menus, the pages of magazines, and more. I feel more tuned in to my work and ready to create – I don’t feel like I need to search for sources of inspiration, because my well is full.
It Allows You to Get Perspective
When we spend all day in the virtual world of our businesses, we can often lose perspective on what’s important to us and who we are. There’s no denying that creating a business, whether it be in a physical location or holding virtual space, involves giving a part of yourself to it. You’ve got to be dedicated to help it grow and become its own entity.
However, your business is not you. It may rely on you, but it’s not your entire identity. You are also a human being with family, friends, interests, and (hopefully!) a hobby or two on the side. You are not just your job title. It’s easy to become consumed with work-related goals, trying to hit that next income milestone, or have served X many customers, but you need to step away and feel whole away from your business to give it your best.
You Realign with Your Goals
The online world is a noisy place. You can easily get caught up in what other entrepreneurs and businesses are doing, and feel like you should be doing the same. After all, they look happy and relaxed in all their social media posts, surely you should feel that way, too?
Getting away from your work and fully detaching helps you get perspective. It helps you realise that working harder or tweaking this one thing isn’t always the right answer for you. You can take some time to centre yourself and think about what you really want from your business. Often, staying in your own lane rather than following the crowd will help propel your business closer to being your true definition of success.
It’s not easy to disconnect, especially in the early days of your business when you feel like you need to babysit it at all times. However, you need to remember that a lot of your business relies on you and your brainpower. If you don’t give yourself time to step away and recharge, you’ll deplete your energy and end up somewhere you don’t want to be. So, grab your calendar and block off a few days or a week in which you’ll take off this quarter. I promise you and your business will thank your past self for it!