This is a lesson I learned the hard way. Not taking time off is bad for you and bad for your business. End of.
There’s a reason we have weekends – it’s so that we can relax, refresh and start anew on Mondays (and I’ll be talking about Sunday-night blues in a future lesson, for those who dread Mondays).
There’s a reason why we take leave and hopefully take holidays – it’s so that we can relax, recharge and switch off. Oh, and spend time with family, friends and people who aren’t just our colleagues.
So why do so many self-employed people seem to take pride in working every hour in the day? They positively brag about working weekends and bank holidays and that gloriously quiet week between Christmas and New Year. Many of the same people talk about which business books they’ll be reading when they go on holiday and post pictures of their laptop open by the pool.
Switch off, for god’s sake. Focus on something else. Let your brain relax. Stimulate your other senses. Lose yourself in a novel. Play more sport. Do a jigsaw. Stop thinking about your business and your business will be better for it and I bet your family will be grateful for it too.
The first few years I was self-employed I didn’t feel I could take any time off – and I burned out. I was regularly working weekends either at home or at my desk. If I did get away for a few days I was ‘keeping on top of emails’ so I was never really relaxing and switching off. So I was never coming back refreshed. I was never renewing my thinking. I was never really on top form for my clients.
Clients don’t expect you to be available 24/7, 365 – unless you’ve trained them to expect that. They’ll be taking leave and enjoying days off and will think none the worse if you do the same – in fact you’re doing them a disservice if you don’t.
I think it’s particularly hard when you first start your business as it feels like you’ll stop earning as soon as you stop working for even a few days – especially those who have come from employment with that ‘luxury’ of paid leave. But factor holidays into your charges when you work out how much you need to earn/charge.
The other game changer for me was finding other people to ‘babysit’ my business while I was away so I knew client’s needs were covered in an emergency. When working in PR I had a couple of colleagues who I had reciprocal deals with – their clients could call me in an emergency and my clients also had someone they could call if there was something that really couldn’t wait. Now I have a Virtual Assistant who can respond to enquiries and if she can’t answer a query, let them know when I’ll be back to do so.
Time off is vital for the success of your business – a lesson too many people in business need to learn.