How to take a day off!

Photo by Mateusz Dach on

If you are a small business owner, then you understand what it is like to work 75+ hours per week, having more month at the end of your money, and the jubilation when you can finally pay yourself a regular paycheck no matter the amount.

You are laser-focused on maintaining good relationships with your clients, but do you practice the same with yourself? Has your desire to build your own space in the world come at the expense of your sanity?

How many times have you promised you were going to take a day off and worked until 2:00 or 3:00 PM taking care of business-related situations? Or have had to take time from friends and family to meet with a potential client you have been stalking for weeks?

It is easy for us to say, “they understand” because after all, you are working for the good of the family, right? But is money the most important thing?

Before you say, “it’s just not possible”, I will tell you I have operated my small business for more than a decade, so I get the hustle mentality, but there are ways to take the day off without the constant email and text check-ins, it’s called “planning”.

If you want to take next Wednesday off, then this Thursday starts working on your schedule to lessen the amount of work that will not happen next Wednesday. That includes not setting any appointments after 2:00 PM the Tuesday before next Wednesday. The logic being you won’t have carry-over activities if you limit the day to early meetings and tasks that can be accomplished by the end of the day.

Set expectations among your clients that you will not be able to be reached on Wednesday and let you know if there are any urgent needs by Tuesday at 1:00 PM. What you will find is they will comply. People who are used to having unfettered access to you will intrude whenever they feel necessary. By restricting access to some, they must adjust and will do so.

Next, unplug! I don’t just mean from your laptop and smartphone, but the constant barrage of thoughts that invade your very existence and make it hard to sleep or do anything other than think about your business. For me this is done through listening to music, for others, it’s reading or meditation. I have had days where I’ve spent more than two hours listening to music and it has freed my mind and put me in a state of relaxation that allowed me to be more focused on myself and my loved ones.

Once your mind is relaxed, get out of the house, and do something fun. When I was in college, I really enjoyed taking photos. I used to get up at sunrise and ride around town looking for great shots and waited with great anticipation for the film to be developed (dating myself).

As I got busier in life, I purchased a point-and-shoot camera where everything was automatic, or just used my cellphone to take photos. I recently purchased a digital camera and have been learning how to use manual settings all over again. It’s great that digital cameras allow you to see the images instantly, so no wasted film, but it also allows you to challenge yourself to get the shot you want in real-time, which takes focus. Here is one of my recent shots:

This relaxed state of mind is also great for spending time with your family. Without the constant business whispers in your head, you may find out things about those closest to you because you never slowed down enough to pay attention.

When my children were younger, we used to play catch in our yard, and I discovered my daughter was much better at throwing a baseball than catching and my son was just the opposite. This led to me understanding that she was more concerned with details, and he was more about the outcome, which has held true to this very day. She is a best-selling author and copy editor, and he is a logistics manager for a Fortune 100 corporation.

If you are married or have a significant other, it is vitally important to use these techniques to be able to show them they are more important than your business. Allow them to choose activities that are meaningful to them and be present when you are sharing the experiences. By focusing totally on them and your time together, you will not only strengthen your relationship, but they will become greater advocates of your success during “grind” time.

Building a successful business is 20% inspiration and 80% perspiration, so I get working hard, but if you do not take the time to “stop and smell the roses”, you will not only burn yourself out but live in a constant state of anxiety as your effectiveness suffers from mental exhaustion.



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