Let me guess, you have a hard time shutting down your brain or stepping away from work if you’re an entrepreneur. Yay or nay? Woo, I know that’s a reality for me, BIG time, but I’ve had to almost retrain my brain to understand that there’s actually significant importance to taking time away from your business.
If that sentence hurts you to read, I’m going to encourage you to keep reading and push past the yuck feeling you might be experiencing. Because hot take: Those of us who resist rest and time minimal time off are usually the ones who need it the most.
Truth: It’s HARD for entrepreneurs to take time off
Data suggests that vacations and time off of work is actually GOOD for your creativity, productivity, and performance at work. (Aka, things won’t go up in flames the moment you turn on your “out of office” email responder, promise!)
But, no shocker here, Americans are pretty darn bad at taking time off. This article shared that 55% of Americans with paid vacations didn’t take advantage of all of their vacay days in 2015 and that Americans have gradually been taking fewer vacations over the past 15 years.
It gets even trickier when you own your own business, right? There’s no corporation paying you to take time off, which makes it harder to reconcile stepping away.
In fact, when you’re the one who has to go above and beyond to plan for things to keep running during your time away, it’s a big task that involves prepping your team (if you have one), setting up automation, and ensuring your clients and customers are well taken care of while you’re off and away.
Whew, it’s enough to make any of us keep our booties in our desk chairs for good, right?
It’s a lot of pressure, but I can guarantee that the negative effects of not taking breaks completely outweigh the challenging tasks of preparing for time away. Burnout, depression, and utter exhaustion come calling when you rarely (or never) have a break from work—and if you’re like me, you might have already experienced one or more of those side effects by working around the clock.
This book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle (affiliate link), dives deeper into why women specifically are conditioned to feel beat up and burnt out so often (& what to do about it). Check it out if you have a yearning to learn even more about how to rest effectively and avoid, well, pretty much hating your life.
5 reasons to take time away from your business
So, whether you’re going to commit to taking at least one full day off from work every week (that includes no email, friend!), or you’re ready to plan that much-deserved vacation, holiday break, maternity leave, or sabbatical—it’s time for time off, and to prioritize it regularly.
(Not just whenever you’re past the brink of burnout!)
Take it from someone who proudly labeled herself a workaholic, until those workaholic tendencies (sort of) blew up in her face… Creating space for rest, family time, and non-work activities has ironically been one of the very best things I’ve done to benefit my business.
Read that again. And now read exactly why:
01. Time off allows your mind to REST
A part of being an entrepreneur is that you’re the visionary, dreamer, goal-setter, and leader. Whether you want to or not, you’re constantly coming up with ideas and solutions—oftentimes at 1 in the morning when you’d really rather be sleeping! (Anyone else?)
By getting into the practice of actually, fully stepping away from work—whether it’s taking a day or two off every week or planning regular extended time away throughout the year—you allow your mind to shut down for a little while. Or, at least, to slow down.
When you’re not always in “go, create, do, achieve, more, more, more” mode, you can experience a sort of reset that won’t happen otherwise. It also allows us to step back and celebrate how far we’ve come and what’s been accomplished.
I think as entrepreneurs, we also lack taking the time to pause and marinate in the moments of accomplishment, which can also help rest and reassure our minds that we deserve celebration and more importantly are allowed to pause. It allows you to come back to work refreshed so that you can create from a place of peace and less out of a frantic pace of always wanting to get more done.
02. You can recalibrate your priorities
Sometimes I don’t even notice I’m exhausted and overworked until I have a moment to step away and suddenly realize, “Whoa, I haven’t called my grandparents in two months or gone on a date with Drew in weeks because I’ve been SO busy with work.”
The business will always seem like the biggest fire to put out, because we’ve built this thing and now have to sustain it. But, that shouldn’t mean sustaining it is at the detriment of our health or relationships.
Taking regular time away from your business will let you pour back into the non-work activities and relationships that you value, and figure out a way to keep them front of mind even when work does inevitably get busy.
03. It models healthy work-life integration for others
If you have kiddos, you already know that they’re watching and picking up habits from everything that you do, even the most subtle things ever. I laughed when Coco was younger and would pretend to brush her teeth in the mornings because she saw me and Drew doing it.
If our little ones see us working all the time with no boundaries and no time off, it sets the expectation for them that they should be working all the time in order to feel worthy or fulfilled. The thought of that breaks my mama heart because I want SO much more for my kids’ lives than to just work themselves silly without enjoying the fruits of their labor or spending their precious time pursuing other things they enjoy.
On the other hand, if you don’t have children, you’re still modeling behavior for other entrepreneurs or just friends and other people within your sphere of influence. I believe the hustle culture became so popular and glamourized because we saw so many prominent business people promoting it as though it was *THE* only way to be successful.
If, instead, we worked on promoting a healthy work-life integration (because I don’t believe in the word “balance”), we could show that work is important, yes, but so is time to rest and travel and play and be with family. The more we normalize that in our own lives, the more it will become acceptable for everyone else to embrace, too.
04. You can spend time doing other things you love
Meaning, like… things outside of work. These past two years, I’ve traveled less for work and have found myself falling in love with play again. I mean, true childlike play, where you get your hands dirty and go on adventures and makeup games.
I think the combination of being home more + having a toddler has reignited my love of play, but I wouldn’t even have had the chance to spend time discovering this side of me if I was constantly attached to my computer like I’ve been in past seasons of my professional life.
Friend, we NEED joyful hobbies and habits that light us up that aren’t work-related. And we need to give ourselves the space to pursue them. Life is about so much more than productivity and achievements… and this is coming from a full-blown Enneagram 3 Achiever!
Trust me, I sooo understand the chase and the high of a work-related win, but there’s something about setting aside work to pursue your other loves that is so rewarding, too.
My sign of a successful week, month, or year these days is as much about protecting my peace and incorporating activities that I love into my daily routine as it is about business growth and meeting new number milestones.
05. You can renew your passion
It’s counterintuitive that time away from work reignites your passion FOR work, but it’s absolutely true. Every single time I plan for time off, I try my best to fully unplug from work for at least a portion of the time, and as hard as it is, it’s wild how it always leaves me so excited and eager to jump back in once I’m home.
And funny enough, consciously stepping away from the business to rest and reset oddly brings about some of my very BEST business ideas. I know, I know, we’re talking about letting our minds shut down from work mode, but I don’t know if that’s ever really possible, even when your email’s turned off and your computer’s far away.
For me, just getting out of my regular work rhythm and responsibilities almost creates this openness for new ideas to come to me. It’s why I still like to bring a journal on vacations or breaks from work—because even though I don’t want to be working in the legit sense, I do want to jot down any big thoughts that come to me in my time of rest.
I hope this gives you the encouragement (and maybe a little push, too!) you need to allow yourself to take time away from your business, whatever that looks like! You are absolutely worthy of time off—and I have a feeling your business will benefit because of it!