We all know that taking breaks can lead to higher productivity. Stepping away from your workspace for even just 10 minutes can improve your blood flow, which helps you think more clearly and work more efficiently. Failure to take regular breaks can lead to burnout, stress, and poor physical and mental wellbeing.
Far too often, small business owners forgo taking breaks, thinking we must always be on. We confuse busyness with productivity. This mindset is not good for you or your business. Taking breaks throughout your workday is just as crucial for small business owners as it was when we worked for others.
Many solopreneurs work long hours. Some work 7 days a week and are even less likely to take time away than their employed counterparts due to their passion for their work, as was the case in a Harvard Business Review study focused on entrepreneurs and burnout. While we are in growth mode, we are often fearful of shutting down operations and taking some much-needed time off. Even during these hectic moments, we need to find time away to do things that bring us joy and rejuvenate our passion for our business.
Scheduled Time Away
Scheduling downtime can be just as beneficial to your clients as it is to your business. When you are refreshed and less stressed, your performance improves, and your outputs are of higher quality. You may be reading this wondering how you will find the time to step away from the hustle and bustle. As always, my advice to you is to be strategic. Knowing the ebbs and flows of your business can be helpful in finding a less disruptive time to schedule some downtime. Remember, there will never be a “perfect time.”
When you do decide to take a few days off, it’s important that you communicate this information to all of your key stakeholders. This list includes your customers, your suppliers, your contractors, and your business partners. Be sure to let them when you will be taking time away, when you are returning, and, if applicable, who to contact in case of an urgent need. Be sure to let your key stakeholders know if you will be checking email and social media during your downtime by turning on your autoresponders for each platform.
Unscheduled Time Away
Taking scheduled time off can be challenging, but let’s be real, there will be occasions when you are pulled away without advance notice. Unscheduled downtime cannot be prevented, but there are things you can do to limit the disruption caused if you are unexpectedly unable to perform your regular job duties.
Staying up-to-date on communications is a great way to prevent major disruptions from unscheduled time away. Individuals are much more gracious during unexpected outages if you have built a reputation for responding in a timely manner. Also, once you know you need to step away, it is imperative that you communicate your unavailability as soon as you are able.
Another way to help your business prepare for the unforeseen is to add a bit of buffer to your lead time. It is always better to under-promise and over-deliver. If you know a project can be done in 7 days, make it a habit to set the expectation that it will take 10-14 days. Thus, if all goes smoothly and you can deliver ahead of schedule, your customers will be impressed. If a situation occurs that causes you to be unavailable for 1 or 2 days, you are still within the agreed-upon timeframe.
Taking time away for yourself is essential for every business owner. Downtime not only helps you feel refreshed and ready to jump back into your daily routine, but it can also lead to new realizations and inspirations that will help your business and relationships grow. Some ways to get started include staying healthy and active to help prevent illnesses and avoid severe complications from injuries. Also, getting 6-8 hours of sleep is important, as is taking care of your mental health and emotional wellbeing. So while you’re planning out the rest of the year or making plans for the next, make sure to add some moments of pause in your schedule, you deserve it!