The Importance of Taking Proper Breaks When You Are Self-Employed

Reading and Writing as MeditationI took the weekend off. Completely. 100%. No work on either day. It felt good. We enjoyed a weekend of warm sunshine in London and it put me in a holiday mood. No-one had booked themselves into my online coaching diary for Saturday, which is very rare, and apart from my commitment to blog daily there was nothing I had to do – total freedom. Which is ironic because freedom is the most often quoted word self-employed people offer up for choosing to work for themselves, but self-employment can so often be anything but freeing.

What we small business owners do have though is choice. We get to choose how we spend our time and that feels like freedom, but comparing notes with my clients this morning there’s a full range of feelings about time off and most of it is not good. It seems that unless we are always working, always driven, always keeping an eye on productivity, well… we aren’t happy. And I know that feeling too. There’s a mess of emotions around time off.

I don’t really pay much mind to weekends. Why would I? When you are self-employed you can work – or not – whenever you like, so the days of the week become irrelevant. However, the downside, the risk, of this is that work just sprawls albeit part-time over all seven days of the week. The risk is that I am “always on”.

My youngest nephew taught me that the best way to manage the battery in my iPad is to let it drain all the way to the bottom, then plug it in and let it charge all the way to the top. Not to half drain it and top it up, neither Arthur nor Martha. That was the fastest way to misuse the battery and have it become less energy efficient more quickly.

And so it is with me as a business owner. To be either completely on or completely off is a more efficient way to run my business and live my life. A little bit of sunshine this weekend and everything suddenly plummeted while we all went outside and started enjoying the non-digital life. Fewer people were engaging with me on Facebook as I posted less than usual. My inbox was almost empty – hurrah – as clients and friends and colleagues abandoned their laptops for the garden.

This meant I could focus my me-time on my favourite meditative and restorative pastimes, reading and writing. And pleasing myself and just letting the energy drop to a passive ticking along place, to my happiest level of (in)activity. R & R. Rest and relaxation.

Consequently this morning I feel calm and up for the excitements and opportunities of a new week. Refreshed. That’s the word I would use. Did you get a complete break over the weekend? Or were you partially on? Have you experimented with the best way for you to work? Is that set in stone or is it time to revisit that experiment?

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