When you are a small business owner or solopreneur, you are married to your business. Your life and work are intertwined, especially if you are in the beginning stages of being self employed. For most, like myself, you work out of where you live which is awesome! But it can also mean that you never truly leave work. Yes, it means you can go the grocery at non-peak hours and work until midnight if you choose. But it also means that your definition of taking time off must be more concrete and defined.
With all of this said, this is the first summer where I have shut the doors to my office for more than hours at a time. I actually stopped working for some time off, aka real vacation. Literally, I did the following:
- Shut the doors to my office
- Turned off the computer
- Cleaned off my desk
- Sent out calendar reminders to my clients
- Set an email message stating that I am OUT OF THE OFFICE
For the first 3 years, I was nervous to step away. Even if I spent a day on vacation with my family or out with them on a day trip, I checked email in the early morning or late at night. I would even take afternoons to get work done. Do I regret it? Not exactly; my business was growing and I was establishing myself.
But this past June, I did it! Baby steps though as it was just for 3 days. And wow! I had a blast. I thought for sure that I would sneak some work in, so I still brought my laptop. But nope! After the first day of not looking, I spent the other two enjoying my family. I was refreshed and relaxed.
And when I returned, guess what? My clients were still there and the world had not ended. Yes, I had to do some more work the weekend prior and after, but it was worth it. Those 3 days gave me a breather and when I returned I was ready to get back to work.
The key to taking this time off was prepping ahead of time. I had to really look at my weekly tasks and complete some prior to the trip and some after. I also communicated to all of my clients by scheduling my time off on their calendars. All of my emails were set to a vacation message that would tell people I was away and get back to them when I returned. Time off did require some extra strategy and time management, but I am so happy to have done it. And next time, I know how to prep and what to expect.
Sometimes, I yearn for paid days off, but most days I love that I can start work at 5 am or finish my work at 9 pm if I go to my kid’s track meet. I love working my own schedule. However, along the way I neglected that I needed time off. I needed to take a few or more days off completely. My next goal (perhaps not until next summer or spring break) is to take an entire week off, and dare I say, not take my laptop! In the end, I highly recommend TAKING A DAY OFF for your sanity and for the benefit of you business. You will return recharged and the work and your clients will still be there.