“Just one more email..”
How many times have you told yourself this lie? I do it constantly. Before you know it, that one email has turned into three hours of work while downing another French press of coffee. But where does it end?
It’s no secret that starting and running a business is hard work. But the hustle can become addicting when every box checked off your to-do list, paid invoice, or milestone met gives you an exhilarating thrill. Whether you’re starting at the beginning or already absolutely killing it, some days it may seem nearly impossible to switch off but taking ‘me time’ is crucial to your success.
While the need to constantly be working may stem from your desire to succeed, it may also come from a place of guilt. As women, we’ve long been conditioned to feel guilty about things such as not smiling enough, apologizing too often, or working instead of staying home with the kids. Well, guess what? Your business is your baby and you’ll both fare better if you’re not a helicopter parent.
You’ll be more productive.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing you’re leaving money on the table if you aren’t working. In fact, working too much can be counterproductive. Research has found that working more than 40 hours a week will lead to less productivity so you might as well not waste your time with those extra hours. Some countries, such as France and the Netherlands, have been experimenting with shorter workweeks and have found that the same results can be produced in this shorter timespan. Additionally, a better work-life balance generally leads to a happier and healthier workforce.
Working too much also drastically increases your risk of health issues such as cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and depression. Your body and mind are your greatest business tools so you need to maintain them. If your business required a machine to run, wouldn’t you make sure it regularly received proper maintenance and had plenty of fuel to keep working at its optimal capacity? You need to do the same thing with yourself.
Keep your body and mind healthy by taking time to prepare nutritious meals, exercise, and rest. You aren’t invincible. Just like any other muscle, your brain needs time to recuperate after exercising. You can only push yourself so far before you’ll burnout. Take care of yourself because fewer sick days will be better in the long-run, especially when you’re the beating heart of your business. Give your brain and body a break and they will thank you in return.
You’ll be more creative.
Have you ever heard someone say they do their best thinking in the shower? That’s because they’re letting their brain and body relax. Other relaxing activities, such as yoga or meditation, can have the same effect. To the chagrin of my yoga teacher, I’ve written entire articles in my head during savasana after struggling through hours of writer’s block. Especially as business owners, we’re sometimes too close to see problems so taking a step away may provide some much-needed clarity.
If your business relies on your creative brain for devising new strategies, dreaming up new products, or writing copy that captures your ideal client’s attention, you need to rest it from time to time. Take some time off now and again to clear your mind so that you can come back refreshed and perhaps even with a new approach that you couldn’t see before. Let your mind move freely and see where it takes you. You might be surprised.
You’ll find new sources of inspiration.
You never know when inspiration will strike! Reading a book might help you discover a new way of looking at things in a way that you’ve never considered before, traveling to a new destination might inspire a new product line, or an everyday experience might trigger an idea for a service that will provide an innovative solution tackling a problem many people share.
Reed Hastings has claimed that he was inspired to found Netflix due to a $40 fee he was charged by Blockbuster for returning a copy of Apollo 13 late. While the truth to this story is questionable, imagine being inspired to create a company that would become one of the largest streaming services in the world simply by going out to rent some movies and forgetting to return them on time. There is inspiration to be found everywhere, but you’re going to miss it if you don’t take the time to look up from your laptop.
You’ll get to enjoy the life you’ve built.
What’s the point of any of it if you don’t take time to enjoy the life you’re building for yourself? Working all of the time and making money might make you happy now, but it’s not everything. You work hard for your money so spend it on things you enjoy. Treat yo’ self! You only have one life to live so don’t let it pass you by. Close your laptop, go outside, do whatever makes you happy. Whatever is on your business todo list can wait.
‘Me time’ looks different to everyone. Whether you recharge by watching Netflix in bed with your dog or hitting the town with your girlfriends, it’s important to take a step back and enjoy yourself. And never ever feel guilty because ‘me time’ is an investment in your well-being, which is an investment in your business because it allows you to show up as your best self.
Victoria is a communications strategist and content creator. She served as Public Relations Manager at InterNations and Communications Director for nonprofit The Unmentionables before successfully transitioning to a full-time freelance career. Her work ranges from travel tips for publications such as Fodor’s and Time Out to in-depth white paper content for SaaS providers.