This is your permission to take a day off. Actually, it’s more like an order. Because if I know anything about you, the thought of waking up tomorrow and turning off your phone, muting your email, and tucking your laptop away in your desk makes you feel anxious and frazzled.
But I want to help you take a day off without those feelings. I want a day off to make you feel elated and free! You can’t — and shouldn’t — expect yourself to be connected to work and even social media all day every day and still maintain your physical, mental, and emotional health.
This episode is the starter’s manual for protecting your time and intentionally planning a day off… Or maybe even a week or month. So if you’re feeling fatigued, worn out, and tired of it all, let me share with you my methods for protecting my time and why taking a day off can actually get you AHEAD, not behind like it might make you feel.
Setting aside one day a week
So many of us are stressed out, chronically anxious, and severely lacking sleep. Yet we still want to continue the hustle and grind out another few hours or few days of hardcore work to just get to that next level of more. In fact, our society has made the words “hustle” and “grind” status symbols of the best in the workforce. Words and phrases like “taking a break,” “sleeping in,” or “day off” are much less idolized and probably get a lot more judgment passed if you were to use them in an email to a colleague or client.
Did you know the average person touches their phone more than 2,600 times a day? These people are called “constant checkers” by the American Psychological Association, and spoiler alert, you and I probably fall into that category. So how do we quit technology before it really impacts our lives drastically? Author Aaron Edelheit wrote a book called “The HARD Break: The Case for a 24/6 Lifestyle” where he shares some compelling research about the idea of taking a day off each week and literally turning off your phone and computer for a full day.
I know, that gut-panic might set in right when you hear the words “turn off your phone for a day.” That’s why experts encourage people to just start with an hour of unplugging. During this sort of “hard break,” try your best not to even talk about business at all. You might think about it — at first especially, it’ll be hard not to if you’re used to constantly being available.
But the goal is to give your brain and even your body a break from either constantly working or constantly being connected to all the things all the time. It also gives you some space to stop running on autopilot from one activity to the next without pausing or thinking about how you feel or what you really need in the moment.
Don’t use it to work on house chores or finally finish that DIY shed project in the backyard. Don’t use it as an excuse to catch up on Handmaid’s Tale. Think about it as disconnecting to reconnect with yourself and your family and loved ones.
And I can guarantee, you’ll be shocked when you turn on work mode again. You’ll feel reinvigorated, energized, and excited to get back to work. Your creativity will be at an all-time high, and you’ll be ready to tackle your to-do list with vigor. Rather than just chugging out another day of hustle, you might actually feel rested and ready to take on the next six days, with the seventh to look forward to for another heavenly pause!
How to infuse rest into your life
Let’s get into the actual logistics of how to rest more — because y’all know I love me some logistics. A hard break doesn’t just happen overnight, we have to make it happen. Due to the standards of our society, it’s probably not the best idea to just wake up one day and decide to throw your phone out the window.
Just like any other change, the key to doing it gracefully is: commitment, communication, and compassion — that last one is mostly for yourself. Unless you can practice a little self-compassion, this could be pretty difficult.
So just be patient and remember rest is GOOD for you — it’s not the end of your life, your business… or the world. I’ve pulled together a few tips for infusing more rest and unplugged hours into your life that should help you to at least get started, so let’s dive on in.
Let others know about your plan to unplug
It’s important to loop people into your plan and it’s critical for a few reasons, the first being accountability. You may need to talk to your boss who gets a little email-happy Sunday evenings, ask your spouse for some extra support, or let your kiddos know that phones and devices are going to be off-limits for a few hours or a full day — whichever you choose — starting next week.
Drew and I will literally lock them in the safe when we’re on vacation or even play hide and seek with one another’s devices when we’re struggling to disconnect — so don’t make this a scary thing, have a little fun with it but loop in the important parties who are necessary to help you follow through. Whether it’s family, friends, or work people, most commonly you’ll find that they will actually want to support you with this goal.
In fact, most of us realize that we’re overworked and over-connected, but not many of us choose to do anything about it for all the reasons I’ve gone through. By actively communicating this change, you might even inspire others to pursue some recharge time themselves, especially after they see your improved productivity, mood, and other positive effects after practicing it for a while.
My team and I have pretty strict boundaries when it comes to work and we have to ask for permission to voice text one another via Slack so that we aren’t popping into each other’s worlds when we’re busy with family or unplugged. These boundaries not only show and communicate respect but they protect us from jumping into work when we should be resting.
Stick to it for at least a month
One practice I used to do and need to get back into is Social Media Free Weekends, where I would log out of my accounts on Friday and wouldn’t love back in until Sunday. It was refreshing to go through the weekend without worrying about documenting Instagram-worhty moments and I wasn’t wasting time on the apps when I could be unwinding with my fam.
I’m not going to lie, when you first unplug, you might not like it. There’s actually a study that says our temptation to check the internet is harder to resist than food or sex.
That’s why it’s more than okay to just start with one hour of disconnecting, and then slowly adding a couple more hours until you make it to a full day. Plan out your “unplugged” hours once a week for a whole month, like block them off, set reminders, put your phone on do not disturb, delete apps, whatever you’ve got to do to resist the urge, and then commit to it.
At the end of the month, you might be surprised that you crave your few moments of peace, quiet, and clarity.
Plan ahead so you’re not tempted
This might actually be the most fun step for those of us who are productivity-motivated! If you’re sitting there during your rest time wishing you’d gotten X, Y, or Z done, or wanting to clean the house top to bottom, or thinking about piles of laundry sitting on the floor of your room, then make sure you plan ahead to feel like you’re in a pretty good place to unplug and not work for your rest time.
I just got back from 3 whole weeks off and we had to front load a ton of the work. The week before I left was kind of crazy in terms of signing off, recording, approving, proofing — all the things, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to actually rest or unplug unless things were running, business as usual, while I’m away. From my 3 month maternity leave to my month long sabbaticals, we are always working ahead so that the team has everything they need to keep the business running while I rest.
Plan ahead to protect that time, finish any chores or work tasks you know would just irk you, and if you remember something you need to do during your rest time, don’t just squash the rest and get back to work. Write it down somewhere you’ll see it the next day, and remember that the world won’t fall apart if you don’t tackle that one thing right away. It’s okay to put you first sometimes.
Load up on ideas for restful activities
A lot of us think of rest and we get visions of bubble baths and candle light or meditating or napping for hours, which honestly, I could get behind that one. But after a couple hours of no technology, you might be ready to kick mental health to the curb just for the sake of scrolling Instagram for five minutes as a distraction or a cure to our boredom… We’ve forgotten how to simply be. Lord help us.
So make sure you have lots of ideas for non-work, restful activities to keep you busy, fresh air opportunities for you to soak in but protect yourself from being stressed-out busy. Naps and meditating are great, sure, but so are reading a book, journaling, practicing yoga, going for a walk or hike with the family, cooking a new recipe, calling a loved one, sipping coffee on the front porch, playing a backyard game, sitting by a campfire, taking the dog to the park, painting, knitting, listening to music… there are so many options to rest well and connect inwardly again.
Take a vacation gosh darn it
On that note of taking a break whether it’s one hour a week, three hours, or a full day, which is the eventual goal, I also want to encourage you to take a dang vacation. When was the last time you took a TRUE vacation — not a work trip, but actual time away, autoresponder up, peace out business vacation? In case you’ve forgotten you DESERVE a vacation.
I know it might not feel like it. I know there is always work to be done and emails to answer and people to reach out to. I know it feels like you’ll just get behind and not be able to dig yourself out if you go on vacay, but that’s not the truth. We are human beings. Not human doings. Not human achievings. Not human email answerings and campaign launchings.
Trust me, I know how good it feels to keep your to-do list stacked and continue knocking it out day after day. I know it can be tempting to draw your value from how much you get done, and it can feel like an utter failure when we are just still — or worse, spending hard-earned money on a getaway.
The impressive prestige and business acumen you earn from a life of overworking yourself is just that — impressive. But it won’t make you feel full in the end. Whether you’re an employee of someone else or run your own gig, it is OKAY to take a long break and go on vacation. That’s why it’s built into the structure of most companies’ benefits! Although, it could stand to be a little more generous, if you ask me, but that’s another story.
Lean on tools like autoresponders to answer questions you know might come your way, good communication leading up to your vacation time, and setting clear expectations and boundaries with people so they don’t interrupt your days off.
The Big Picture
For me, rest is harder than work — in fact, it takes me a few days of settling into active resting because my autopilot is to work and to push the needle and to keep on moving forward. So I hope you feel encouraged today to take time to rest and protect your time because it is so in need of being kept sacred.
Prioritizing time for breaks, no matter if it’s an hour a week or a three-week-long trip to Australia, Fiji, and New Zealand — just saying, whatever it looks like for you it’s so massively important to our long-term health, our relationships, and even our work! Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint and every good runner knows that rest days are just as important as the heavy training days. You can’t pour from an empty cup, my friend! So this week, fill yourself up!