There’s no sense denying it … everyone needs some R&R once in awhile to boost their productivity (there are loads of studies and articles out there that simply cannot be argued with), but for an early-stage entrepreneur like me, can it still be justified? That was the critical question looming in my head.
I just returned from a week at Lake Almanor in Northern California. We camped and hiked and fished and played on the beach. I went for long walks, rode my bike, made some amazing dinners, watched some miraculous sunsets, and even got a lot of sleep. When we were planning the trip, I had this vision of my family going off to do fun things – to play golf, or go out fishing – while I took advantage of some much-needed quiet time to catch up on my to-do list for my business. I pictured myself taking time to keep up with an online course I’m taking, read about SEO and Facebook marketing, clean out my inbox, catch up on QuickBooks entries, and set up Expensify and a new password manager.
But when I got there, I realized how utterly ridiculous that notion was. My time with my family is limited and precious and I wanted to be fully present with them. And that meant not trying to steal away and get work done. So, after the first night of camping when we moved into the house we were renting, despite the fact that I had picked that house specifically for the wifi (which shockingly isn’t standard in all rental homes these days -- the horror!), I decided to turn off my computer and ignore my phone. I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t check email or voicemail or Facebook, or anything else for a solid week. The only time I would allow myself to even open my laptop would be to look up details with regard to our vacation activities: restaurant reviews, paddleboard rental prices, fishing reports, or trail maps. The only alerts on my phone were about the weather.
It took a few days to let go of that icky, nagging feeling that I should be using my time “productively,” instead of sitting on the deck, soaking up the sun and simply being. But as I started to relax more and more, I felt the weight of the world (and of my business) start to evaporate off my shoulders like the sunscreen that I hadn’t reapplied in over four hours. I knew that everything would still be there when I got back. I’d carefully wrapped up any projects for which others were depending on me before I left, so no guilt on that account. The only items outstanding were peripheral and while it might put me a week behind in terms of meeting my own deadline for launching my new program, I realized that’s pressure I put on myself. I made up that deadline, and so if I changed it, I could alleviate my own stress about it. Could the key to my own stress relief really be that simple?
I started to embody something I’ve always known – that downtime IS being productive!! Just as your body needs sleep to reset, time spent simply gazing at the scenery is time for your brain to let go of the over-stimulation it experiences on a regular basis, which in turn, allows it to actually perform better the next time you embark on a task!
True, I came back with a nice tan (convinced the vitamin D will be great for my productivity this week), but I gained much more than that. Getting out in nature and changing my perspective for a week helped me come up with ideas that never would have surfaced from my home office.
I have renewed energy for my business. In fact, I hit the ground running Monday morning with energy I hadn’t felt in months. I have fresh ideas and the motivation to put them into action right now. And I have letting go to thank for it!
Despite pushing back some deadlines I previously considered “critical,” I’m on track to meet or exceed my own goals this month. Taking time off has actually forced me to be more efficient, and if that’s not enough justification, I don’t know what is.
More to come on why self-care is so important for the health of your business. Got ideas or comments on this topic? Please share!