Part One: Why You Need to Stop Working All the Time (and Start Taking Time Off)
Do you feel like you’re stuck in a never-ending cycle of work with no clue how to break out?
Many business owners feel like they can’t take a break without falling behind and jeopardizing their business. If you’re longing for some downtime and panicking at the very idea of taking time away from your business, you’re not alone. So many of my clients and colleagues feel the same way.
The hard truth is that not taking time off is actually undermining your business.
I know it sounds counterintuitive, but taking time away from your work helps your business thrive.
I learned that lesson the hard way.
When I was at the very beginning of my journey as a business owner, decades ago, I was so committed to building my business and making it work that I worked all the time. Every moment that I was awake, I was thinking about working. Even if I wasn’t actively working, I wasn’t present.
I worked so hard that I hardly ever saw my family because I was working when the kids got home from school during the week, and I worked on the weekends. Finally, my husband came home one night, and I was in my office, sitting at the computer, doing my thing, and he said, “Finish that sentence and then turn off your computer. It’s time to stop working and come be with your family.”
That was the beginning of learning how to run my business and still be present for the people who matter to me the most. I won’t lie; it took a long time to figure it out. But you don’t have to take the time to learn the hard way.
Here’s what I learned about taking time off work and away from your business…
WORKING ALL THE TIME IS BAD FOR BUSINESS
You are a Creative Visionary.
That’s why you started your business and how you got it this far.
But over the years, you’ve gotten tunnel vision.
When you’re working all the time, your brain focuses on the things in front of you that need to get done. You narrow in on the daily routine and that expansive, creative perspective gets cut off to focus on your immediate priorities.
But when you take time away from work, after a few days, the tunnel vision decreases and your vision starts to expand again.
That’s one of the reasons why you need to take time off. Because the most impactful thing you can do to bring more creativity and inspiration to your business is actually spend time not working.
Here’s why: the creative part of your brain expands in the background, not the foreground. It expands while you’re experiencing new things, tasting new tastes, having interesting conversations, or simply taking a walk and being present in nature.
While you’re focused on what you’re doing, seeing, and experiencing, your creativity is blooming in the background, percolating new ideas, solutions, and directions for you, your life, and your business.
For your business to thrive, you need to reconnect with your inner Creative Visionary. You need to be committed to nurturing what inspires you so that you can bring that inspiration back to your work.
WORKING ALL THE TIME IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH
“I love my work, so I work all the time,” is not an acceptable alternative to taking time off.
Of course, it’s really great if you love your work, but working all the time isn’t healthy or sustainable for you or your nervous system.
Overworking is an incredibly common problem for business owners because surviving the startup years to build a viable business requires you to go all in with your time and energy and every shred of determination that you’ve got, likely for at least a few years.
But all that commitment, and hard work, and pushing through stress and anxiety teaches your nervous system that working is the appropriate response to stress and anxiety.
It’s like behavioral therapy; you get anxious, and you get to work, or you work harder. You get anxious, you work. You play out that cycle over and over again for years, so now, your nervous system is conditioned to respond to anxiety by working.
Which means that if you don’t work, the anxiety gets really, really high.
And that isn’t healthy or sustainable.
To break the cycle of anxiety and endlessly working, you have to be aware that your nervous system thinks of work as a pacifier – and you need to find something else to soothe your nervous system. That means that you need to spend time doing things that you find relaxing, invigorating, or pleasurable to teach yourself and your nervous system some new habits.
This is especially hard for business owners because, for many of us, it’s been years since we’ve really had time for ourselves. I’ve worked with countless clients who don’t know what they like to do because it’s been decades since they’ve done anything for the sheer fun or pleasure of it.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO DO?
If you’re stumped on the subject of what you would do with your free time away from work, it’s time to start making a list of what you like to do. Whether you start a note on your phone, a doc in the cloud, or prefer to keep a handwritten list, start writing down anything and everything that isn’t work that brings a smile to your face.
When it’s time to take some time away from work, revisit your list and pick something to do.
WORKING ALL THE TIME IS NOT THE ANSWER
Most business owners think that working harder is the cure to whatever ails their business. If you put in more hours, you could make more money, do more with social media, your team would be more effective, or you would deliver even more excellence for your clients.
No matter the issue, so many business owners tell themselves that they just need to work harder or put in more hours, and, frankly, it’s just not true.
Pushing yourself harder only saps your energy; it drains your mental capacity and actually hinders your ability to solve problems because you can’t pour from an empty cup. You can turn it upside down and inside out if you want to, but there’s still nothing left to give.
You need to step away from your business and the constant demands on your time and attention to refill your cup so that you can refresh your vision, innovate solutions, and continue to contribute to your business in a meaningful and impactful way.
You need to stop working all the time because:
- Working all the time is bad for you.
- Working all the time is bad for your business.
But how do you actually take time away from your business without it falling apart?
One step at a time. Click here to read How to Take Time Off Without Killing Your Business Part Two: Four Steps to Successfully Taking Time Off.