The Importance of Down Time for Entrepreneurs

The Importance of Downtime for Entrepreneurs
I was feeling completely burnt out with no energy.  I do sometimes take weekends off but most weekends you would find me working at least part of the time.

I started my business 10 years ago and I love it.  I try to take a lot of trips and vacations but would rarely unplug fully.  The internet doesn’t shut off.

While a lot of things in my life and business are pretty amazing there are areas that aren’t so great.

I tend to be pretty hard on myself.  I compare my journey to others.  And a lot of times my inner critic is a real bitch (which I’m working on – see the resources below).

And at 49, I am feeling like I’m having a bit of a midlife crisis on what I want my life to look like going forward.

All of that layered with a few other questions in the mix was leading me into a bit of a black hole.

In general, I find that I don’t take time to be silent and listen – I love filling my time with fun things to do. Which is great until you really need to listen.

So I decided to take a 3 week mini-sabbatical in the mountains.  Or as Europeans like to call it – August.  Europe really has the vacation thing right.

Digital Entrepreneurs and the problem with working at home

I love working at home.  I’ve often thought about an office but I’m lazy and I don’t think I would go in that often.

But I find that I step into my home office to finish things up in the evenings or my work expands to fill more time than I budgeted (procrastination, anyone?)

The other problem is the notifications that are going off on social media, Facebook ads that run all weekend, and stepping in to answer one quick question or email.

I also tend to be driven by my to-do list.  What’s the next thing and the next and the next without stopping to enjoy the progress.

Boundaries are key when working from home but another key is understanding how much you can get done in one day.

I tend to over-commit because I’m fairly optimistic.  Sure I can do that – yes why not, sounds like fun – I’ll have that to you tomorrow.

I’m now committed to adding more systems in my business and hiring more help (and getting better at using the fantastic team I have!)

During my time away, I’ve really been thinking about what things that give me the most energy and what brings in the most profit and, of course, where they intersect.

Things to do to really relax

I’m not talking about just taking a weekend off.  If you are really burnt out, you need more time.  And a cram-packed vacation of site-seeing isn’t going to cut it either.


You need time for your brain to wander.  You need time to stare into space and feel like dreaming again.

Carving out a bigger chunk of time takes some planning – you may need help in your business, you may need to finish up some projects or just say no to projects for a little while.

But if you haven’t had any time off, sometimes a focused weekend or week can help.  Maybe just adding in more self-care into your routine can feel like a relief.

And if you are a parent of young children, I get it – downtime is almost impossible.  But maybe there are strategies you can use to just get a little respite – family babysitting, group babysitting (we did an informal preschool where one mom or two moms would teach and the others would get a break).

Here are some of the things that have helped me during my sabbatical.

  • Yoga
  • Meditation – I started with guided meditations through the Insight Timer app but also read Real Happiness The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg
  • Walking or Hiking – I love walking and I did one or two long hikes a day.  Getting out into nature is so restorative.
  • Biking – get your heart pumping with some type of exercise
  • Eat healthy – this is hard for me to do at home because there are so many free snacks there.  But I definitely found when I ate better, I felt better.
  • Stop learning and consuming business content – I’m a big learner.  I love reading business books.  But I had to take a break to let my mind relax.  I also stayed off the internet as much as possible.
  • Read for fun or read content that makes you feel better – I read some powerful books (shared below) that helped me work through some things.
  • Leave time for staring into space or watching the sunset – I tend to go go go and having the quiet space was very powerful.
  • Journal – this helped me process some of the thoughts and feelings that were coming up in the quiet.
  • Get a massage or do some self-care – I think especially as women we don’t often take time for ourselves.
  • Stop the day drinking (ok that’s a joke – day drinking makes me sleepy anyway)  I was definitely guilty of using a glass of wine to relax too often.  But it interferes with sleep and it’s good to take a break from alcohol.

Of course your list might have something different – these are the things that helped me.

Here are a few photos from my hikes and bike rides (more on my Instagram page)

Dillon

What I’m committed to getting better at (without judging myself)

I think one of the biggest surprises to being an entrepreneur is the mindset required and continual self-improvement you need.  And maybe other people don’t find this but I find the more I work on my mind, the more resilient I feel in my business.

Entrepreneurship can be a roller coaster.

Some of the areas I see I need improvement in are:

  • Letting go of perfection.  I didn’t think I was a perfectionist because I would put “less than perfect” work out into the world all the time.  But I would beat myself up about it.  Or I would procrastinate doing something because I was worried about it not being good enough.  Or I would spend wayyy to long on a slide deck because I was worried about what people would think of me.  So one of the things I’m going to do is notice when I’m doing some of these things and work through them as they come up.
  • Practicing more self-compassion.  This is related to the perfection piece but I’m also going to not beat myself up if I do “make a mistake” or something doesn’t go as well as I had hoped.
  • Setting better work boundaries and putting systems in place. One thing I’ve noticed while I’ve been on sabbatical is how much I can get done (I have been doing a little work for current clients) and how much I can relax at the same time when I have boundaries on how much I work.  I’m committed to bring more of the things that relax me into my daily routine.

Resources that have helped me

I’ve read a lot of great books but I want to highlight a couple of resources that have been particularly helpful just in case they might help you too.

   

 

 

 

 

I know not everyone has the ability to take 3 weeks completely off.  It’s not easy.  But when you are feeling completely burnt out, you need to get your energy back somehow.

Find a way that you can relax.  Give yourself permission.  And you’ll come back stronger.

I’d love to hear what you do for relaxation or what has helped you if you’ve felt burnt out in the comments below 🙂

 

Join me in Bali!

Speaking of a break, I love to combine work and pleasure.  Join me at the Digital Marketing Skill Share in Bali this November for a legendary digital marketing event in paradise.
4 days of networking, digital marketing insider knowledge, growth, inspiration and fun!

Don’t miss it! Use my code “ andrea15″ on www.dmss.io to receive 15% off!
Early Bird pricing ends soon.

And I’m thinking about offering a 1/2-day or 1-day mastermind after the conference (you wouldn’t have to attend the conference to participate).  It would be very affordable and designed to set up your 2020 for success!  Let me know in the comments or email me at andrea@andreavahl.com if you might be interested in this mastermind!