How to Take a Break from Running Your Own Business
When you run your own business, it can often feel like you never get to take a break. There are always things to do and people to reply to, and usually, there is nobody but you who can do it. You may even feel guilty for taking time off. However, it is really important for your own wellbeing and productivity that you do make time to have both small, regular breaks during the days and weeks, and longer breaks from time to time throughout the year.
If you feel like this is a struggle for you at the moment, here are some ideas:
Be Rigid About Your ‘Opening Times’
While you may end up putting in long hours working on things for your business, you can run into trouble if your clients and customers expect you to be on hand at all hours of the day and night. While the times you choose to work outside of the normal business day are entirely up to you, it is a good idea to have fixed working hours that you publicize to the people you deal with – including your staff if you have any as well as your clients. This means that people will become trained to expect you only to respond to them or be available to take calls within your normal working day, making it possible for you to switch off when you choose to outside of those hours.
Have Things to Look Forward to At Weekends or in the Evenings
Make sure you always have something to look forward to outside of work, so you don’t feel like the business is the only thing in your life most of the time, and also get a sense of enjoying the money your business is making. Plan trips or days out at weekends that you can look forward to for weeks in advance, or get tickets for upcoming events that you know you will enjoy. Ticketsales.com is a great place to look for tickets to things like sporting events and live music.
Set Up an Autoresponder When You Plan to Be on a Break
If you’re taking time off, or even just outside of your normal working hours, set up an autoresponder on your business email addresses that will let people know when to expect a reply. This is not only good service, in the sense that it lets people know their email has arrived and what to expect next, but also helps you in reinforcing that you’re just one person, and aren’t available 24/7!
Have Someone You Can Delegate to
If possible, have somebody who can cover for you when you take a day off or more. This could be someone who works for you, or could even be a virtual assistant who simply replies to inquiries for you while you are off and passes on only the important messages. You may even find that a friend who works in the same industry may be willing to have your emails forwarded to them for a week while you take a vacation. Having someone keeping an eye on things will allow you to fully distance yourself from work for a break, while knowing that anything important will be dealt with and you’ll be notified if there is an emergency – so there’s no need to keep checking your inbox.
Let Customers and Clients Know Your Availability Over Holidays in Advance
When public holidays are coming up, or over periods like Christmas and New Year when a lot of businesses close for more than just the official holiday dates, plan whether or not you’ll be working and if so, when, and send out your working hours over the period to your key contacts a little in advance (for Christmas, a few weeks in advance can be good, especially if they are very reliant on your services). This lets people know what to expect and allows them to plan things like sending you stuff that needs to be dealt with around those dates early. If you don’t have the sort of business where you are usually dealing with clients one on one, you can do the same thing by putting your hours of availability over holidays on your website once you have decided them.
Have Some Tech Detox Time
If you are able to, have days or even just evenings where you completely unplug yourself from your phone and the internet. Running your own business, especially when you do a lot of your work over the internet or the phone, can mean that you never truly feel like you’re not working – that is, until you close your laptop and turn off your cellphone. Some people like to have full tech detoxes where they go to places with no tech devices at all, for instance to go camping or to enjoy a spa break, but you don’t have to go this far to get the benefits if it isn’t your idea of a good time. Simply switching off for the evening and doing something else can be enough to refresh you.
Take Breaks Throughout the Day
It is important for everyone, no matter what they do, to take some breaks during the day, and this is especially true if you mostly work at a desk with a computer. You can avoid eye strain, back pain, and all kinds of other issues created by spending too long in the same position looking at a screen simply by making sure you get up and move around at regular intervals, and try to factor some exercise in, such as a walk on your lunch break.
Be Selfish About Your Time Off
When you do manage to arrange some time off for yourself, or even when you are just trying to wind down after work or at the weekend, make sure you treat that time as important. Self care is vital to keeping yourself performing at your best, so don’t feel pressured into spending your time off doing things you don’t really want to do if you don’t have the energy for it. Make sure friends and family are aware of how hard you’re working at the moment, and that this may mean you can’t spend all of your free time traveling around to visit them or helping them out with stuff. That is not to say you should never do things for other people – just don’t feel guilty for wanting to guard your precious time off and use it for what you need.
Factor Breaks into Your Annual Budget
If you have the kind of business where you don’t earn when you’re not working, for instance you provide services, then remember to factor in some time off when you are working out your earnings targets and budget for the year (or quarter, depending how you do it). If your plans are all based on working every single business day, then you’ll feel like you have to actually do that, or like any breaks you take require a big sacrifice.
By implementing some, or all, of these things, you can make it easier to get the guilt free time off you need without harming your business or upsetting your customers!