It’s really hard for me to turn off work-mode. And I’m assuming you other entrepreneurs out there can feel the same way.
It all started when I was On The Road To Full Time … work-life balance became an unrealistic an unheard of term. In my first 12 months of owning Dear Sweetheart Events, I worked 40 hours/week, planned 13 weddings, 16 styled shoots & founded Creative at Heart Conference. It was also our first year of marriage. Life was nuts. Insane, actually. I look back and think “how in the world?!” … but my good friend Emily and I have had this conversation & asked ourselves this very question, and we always respond the same way:
you do what you have to.
I didn’t think. I just did.
I worked. I worked a lot. I got up early, stayed up late, worked from the couch, the bed, the car, the plane… I did anything & everything I could to push my business to the next level.
Because I loved it.
I was (am) obsessed with it.
It fires me up.
It fills a whole in my life I didn’t know I had.
And it’s helped me make a life doing all the things that make me happy.
But even good things need a break.
Even good things need a chance to step back, breathe & be reminded of why.
This week I got to do just that. For the last 3.5 years, I haven’t taken one single day off from entrepreneurship. I would check emails, work on client projects, plan C@H or execute a wedding 7 days per week.
Even when we took a vacation, I worked. I couldn’t – wouldn’t – turn it off.
This week I took a big step in the right direction.
Did I work? Yes. But I gave myself strict rules, and I stuck by them.
Taking a vacation 3 weeks before wedding season kicks off was a bit crazy, and I knew there would be certain tasks I’d need to check in on during the week. Part of me wishes I could be writing this saying that after 3.5 years of no work vacation, I went 7 days without. But I didn’t. And I won’t lie to y’all about that.
So instead, I’m going to share how this workaholic took a step in the right direction. A step towards a 7 day fast from work. A step you other workaholics out there should take, too. Here’s what I did & how it helped:
Put your phone in airplane mode. This was an unexpected blessing. We were out of the country & didn’t purchase international data, so we could only use our phones when connected to wifi. This means no quick looks on instagram, Facebook or email throughout the day. No worrying about posting at the appropriate time or trying to read work emails while tanning/burning on the beach. What a blessing, y’all! I could officially turn that part of work off!! Instead of looking at my phone on the beach, I read THREE books, took long walks daily & enjoyed trying to snorkel (it was laughable!). Next time you vacation, even if you’re in the states, I challenge you to totally check out for the day. Turn that phone on airplane mode & just be. The rest can wait.
Give yourself a strict work schedule & stick to it.My goal was to check emails every other day & respond to urgent requests / time sensitive tasks at that time (i.e. emails from my brides!). Emily, my amazing VA, checked daily & starred emails that needed my attention. I also only worked in the morning. I typically wake up before Matt, so I sat in the living room with my laptop & tackled tasks for 30 minutes – 1 hour prior to breakfast. Then it was “laptop away; it’s time to play”.
Leave your laptop charger at home. This meant I had to protect my work time! I had to be so productive when I did open up my laptop, and know that when the laptop died I was done working until we returned home. My laptop lasted all week & died on our plane ride home – perfect timing!
Set clear expectations with your clients.I set an auto-responder on my emails, and was open with my clients about my time away. Emily also reiterated my time away by responding as soon as she saw emails & reassuring my clients that I’d be in touch very soon. I had brides emailing me back telling me to enjoy the sun and stop emailing them, ha – they really are the best! When you clearly communicate your schedule to your clients, they will feel even more cared for
Set clear expectations with your team.Emily is truly a lifesaver for me! I tried to be clear about what I would (& wouldn’t) be able to do while gone, and she took it from there! She was able to streamline my tasks, reiterate my schedule to current & potential clients & honestly I am coming back from vacation less stressed about what I need to do (because don’t we usually need a vacation from vacation when we arrive home?!).
Schedule, schedule, schedule! I had all of my marketing scheduled prior to leaving – my blog posts, Facebook posts & instagram posts were ready to go (minus the personal ones I added in during our vacation!). It made the week prior to vacation very busy, however it was worth it!! By pre-scheduling those posts, I didn’t have to worry about them the week-of, and business went on as usual. I schedule my blog posts with WordPress, schedule FB posts in FB and use PLANN to schedule instagram posts.
What do you think? Have you been able to take time off from your small business?