Enjoying Time Off As A Business Owner
I’m going to share something I’m pretty embarrassed of now. I brought work with me on my honeymoon. Yep. I was just 3 days into marriage, and we had rented and packed up a car with plans of a fun road trip down to Nashville, Tennessee, and I had brought work with me!! And even though the trip was so much fun, when I look back I seriously can’t believe I brought my laptop with me. It’s not that I even had that much work to do! And I had planned ahead enough that an auto-responder would have sufficed. Here’s what I’ve come to realize it was really about- it had been over 3 years since I had really taken time of and I had no idea how to. I was incredibly anxious about saying no and keeping clients waiting and that the business I had worked so hard on for all of these years would come crashing down if I pressed pause. It felt like my business was this train I was driving and I couldn’t find the brakes.
The only way I could alleviate that anxious feeling in my stomach was to bring work with me. I knew I had to make some big changes to my life because there was no way I could keep this up long term. Since my honeymoon (one year ago this coming week!) I have totally changed the way I look at time off, and I’ve taken 2 major long vacations since then (plus I actually enjoy my weekends and days off now).
Here are some things I did to help myself enjoy time off as a business owner:
Get clear on your work boundaries. For me this looks like not having work email on my phone. I only check emails on my laptop when I know I have the time and energy to respond to them. If I’m taking time off I turn on autoresponder. When I take a long time off, I paid someone to keep up with them for me. I also know that I don’t work on weekends anymore and I don’t work during the evening so that I can spend time with Austin.
Don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re not working. Even if you enjoy what you’re doing - posting on your business instagram, working on your website, grabbing coffee with a client - it’s still work. You’re still working. That’s not a vacation. Make a list of hobbies and things you want to do that are unrelated to work. If you get bored (and you might), resist the temptation to work and refer to this list. You’ll come back recharged and refreshed. And for me personally, resting has led to some pretty major creative breakthroughs. Here’s a great quote from Think Grow Prosper that I think really sums it up well: Play is essential for producing great work. It’s how you learn about yourself and the world. It improves your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It gives your brain a change to recharge and refocus. When you feel better, you do better work.
Let go of guilt. Even when I tried to take time off, I felt guilty that I wasn’t working. Because there was always something to get done. Always emails to respond to, photos to edit, shoots to plan, meetings to schedule, HST to file, Instagram posts to post… I’m coming to accept that I’ll never be “caught up” like I felt I should be. There’s no true end to work, and it has to be you that says “I’ve done enough for this week. Everything that isn’t done will have to wait. It will be there for me when I get back”. If you don’t check the guilt you’re feeling, it will forever drain you and none of your time off will truly feel restful.
So remember that train with no brakes? It still feels like that sometimes but now it doesn’t feel as out of control as it did. I can let someone else drive for a bit while I go take a nap or read a book or whatever else you do for fun on a train. I sometimes still have that anxious feeling, but now I know it’s important to ignore it and go play. Thanks for reading! - Rachel
PS. I LOVED writing this post… I feel like I could write a whole novel on this topic! If you loved it too, please let me know and I will write more on this in the future. Thanks again!