So often I hear and see people saying, “I need more time”, “I don’t have enough time”, “I would if only I had the time”. It seems we are consumed with doing and hustling. Even in the grips of a pandemic it wasn’t enough to be, we had to do, renovate, get fit, bake. Where does being and having time off fit?
I have written about time mindset & management hacks, making the most of spare time, and scheduling. In this article I want to talk to you about the unseen/unspoken benefits of taking time off from our business.
Here’s some irony for you. As I write this, it’s Friday. I had planned on writing this article on Tuesday, I started it Wednesday, did a little more on Thursday after taking myself out to lunch after a day of running around. Thing is, I had a shocking sleep on Monday night and I knew that if I pushed through I’d do a lack lustre job of the article, so I left it. In fact, I grabbed my laptop, jumped into bed, and logged on to Netflix for a few hours instead. I had to take some time off. In fact, I’ve taken it easy most of this week as we run in to the end of the school term and holidays, I might be steeling myself for the holidays.
Guess what? The sky didn’t fall down in the 90 minutes I went offline. I felt better for chilling out. Sure work emails came in but I was able to answer them after. I even think I was able to offer better answers after. I know I was certainly more patient afterwards. So let’s start there.
Time off and clear thought
Do you write a challenging email or large document and leave it overnight? Clear eyes and a fresh perspective in the morning, right?
Our attention span is getting shorter and pushing through with a task, especially when we are tired or frustrated, actually reduces our ability to focus. In fact, in 2011, a group of psychologists tested this. They found that people who took two sort breaks, and swapped their focus, in a block of 50 minutes actually had no performance loss.
So it seems that just taking the smallest of breaks and shifting your attention to something else is beneficial than ploughing through.
Flashes of brilliance
Ever been in a situation where you have to come up with a new idea, topic, product etc? Or have you ever been daydreaming, in the shower, staring out the window and a new idea strikes you from out of the blue?
When we let our minds wander, they can come back with some amazing things. This time off, no matter how small, allows our brains to process the dozens of thoughts and worries that consume us and gives us the “processor space” to actually process them and come up with a viable solution. That can be a new solution to a new problem, a new solution to an old problem, or it can be seeing a problem in a new perspective (and perhaps it no longer being a problem).
Ever been so tired that EVERY LITTLE THING just annoys you and you honestly believe that the last straw will break you?
I have worked in a number of teams where the culture would be best described as toxic. There were many days when I had to leave my desk and go and walk the city block. I needed the down time, the space, and the distance to regain some patience.
When I took time off in the week to watch some Netflix, I came back more patient and able to deal with the frustrating emails and ongoing niggling issues. I was also able to deal with ongoing delays thanks to the weather. Having that down time away from the grind and hustle restored my patience.
Burn out is real. Taking time off from your small business, for a short or long time, gives us back energy. We spend many hours of our day working on and in our businesses. Not to mention those hours at night worrying, wondering, or wishing.
Taking time out, to do nothing or do something that you enjoy, fills up our cup. It gives us energy to be able to do more of the things we need to do, to press on when things get tough, and to handy the speed humps that come out of nowhere.
Heart grows fonder
Back in 2014 I took a month out from my business and my family went on a round-the-world holiday. It so happened that it coincided with hubby & I turning 40. In the lead up to it I had to schedule out the content for the month and that was a grind on top of my regular work. It was also a grind because I knew my business wasn’t where or what I wanted it to be. I knew that there had to be more and that I was falling out of love with it.
Not only did I become incredibly clear over that month about what I wanted, but I was also able to rekindle the passion I had for my business. You see, absence can make the heart grow fonder for your small business too. We just need to allow ourselves the space and time to let it happen and to rekindle that flame. I actually wrote about it on my return.
I find taking time off, for me, from my business can leave me with a sense of peace. It’s odd. It’s this empty but calm feeling. It’s slightly happy and content.
I’m learning to love that feeling of peace. It’s a welcome change to the tight knot of stress, comparison, and angst. I also find that when I have this feeling of peace I am more adaptable, have better answers, and am more resilient.
This is my favourite benefit from taking time out of my small business. It’s the one I search for when I know I have a stressful time coming. So this is the one thing I wish for the most for you.
If you are not in the habit of taking time off or feel guilty for it, I want to offer you a permission slip. It’s for you to use how you please. Of course you need to consider how it will impact your business but I often find that some people need physical permission from another person and that is what I’m offering.