When it comes to taking time off as a creative and entrepreneur, there’s always a hesitation within. Will you miss out on the call? Will your clients survive if you step away from your phone? In the first year if business, it’s easy to think that it will all go downhill if you take a day off or simply shut off your device. As a creative and entrepreneur, you are passionate and leave and breathe what you do. You got into business for yourself, not because you like working from your couch, but because you are excellent and absolutely love you what you do. It burns within you. There are definitely benefits of being an entrepreneur. You get to create your own schedule and can work from spaces that inspire you. You have a few more tax write-offs than the average person. You have the ability to work on the road and travel. Adventure and creativity are probably your love language. However, what happens when the hustle becomes too much? When you’re at capacity and haven’t had a vacation in years? What happens when you become a slave to your device?
Then there’s the benefits of being self-employed. What happens when you don’t take time off and avoid the natural rhythms your body needs?
Over the past year my business has evolved and had numerous faces. I’ve started partnerships and ended partnerships. I’ve brought on employees. There are a million lessons that have come from the past year; however, over the past month I’ve come to some painful realizations. Behind the blog, the curated feed, and creative hustle that fills my days, there’s been a reality. A painful reality of business and the business of business. It’s common where I’ve stayed up until 2 or 3 AM putting in hours of work from the couch, only to have my alarm be voided by earlier text messages, emails, and the immediate requests of clients. I’d roll out of bed, panicked, that I had messed up, and would spend the rest of my day exhausted, concerned I would loose vital clients to my sales projections. More often than not, this would be the norm that will fill my days. I didn’t know how to function without stress, hustle, and grind. It was the nature of the beast and something that I thrived upon. Could it be something I could thrive without?
After months of attempting to navigate this world, I knew something needed to be different. I was at a physical breaking point and I knew it. With every email that came in, I was no longer energized by the prospect of new clients, but rather overwhelmed. I was far past my capacity and desperately needed time off.
Maybe you’ve been there.
What if working served a different purpose? What if past the strategy and meetings, you have longer term goals in mind? How do you work toward time off?
I live by my Google calendar. If it’s not on the calendar it simply doesn’t happen. It holds everything, gives me reminders, and keeps me incredibly organized. Sometimes you need to schedule things on your calendar to make them a priority. Whether it’s a dinner break, a month off in the summer, or a maternity leave, begin to make days or times off a priority. Know when you’re going to be away and close out projects with this in mind or put in more hours to work ahead for when you’re gone. In the blogging world, this means going on break or prepping posts for months at a time. In March, I’m heading to Australia and working ahead is the name of the game.
As someone starting out in business, it’s easy to say yes to everything that comes your way. It’s a way to have a huge client base and make sure the bills are covered every month. However, it can quickly lead to difficult clients, feeling under compensated and overworked. Know your non-negotibles and be mindful of what you commit to. If possible during the work week, set office hours. This will give clients an idea of your availability, but help them understand you can’t be on-call for a project 24/7. It protects your time off. Working on a big project? Make sure to spend 8 hours away from your desk a day. (This includes sleep.) Trying to complete a project with minimal sleep and human interaction is a terrible idea.
There comes a point in every business where you’re at capacity. The financial incentives of hustle have waned and you’ve found yourself maxed out. Know the places where you can delegate to others to keep moving forward. Identify the problem areas in your business and look into hiring someone to complete those tasks for you. Creative assistants are the best and have allowed me to expand my business and increase my capacity.
The trip you’ve always dreamed of and hitting the open road are always the promises of the freelance and entrepreneur life. Making money and build the life you love was why you started your business. Don’t forget your values in the process. Work toward the road trip, adventures, and globe traveling expeditions you love. It brings vision and purpose to the daily grind.
What about you? How are you working to take time off?