With the festive time of year now in full swing a lot of business owners will be persuaded into a break.
I’ve noticed that taking quality down time can be tricky for the dedicated small business owner. After all, if you’ve invested your heart and soul into your business, it can be very hard to extract yourself from it.
Even if you’re not directly working, you’re likely to be mulling over some niggling problem, thinking about the improvements you need to implement or brainstorming innovative ideas to find and keep customers.
And if you’re not thinking, you’re probably tweeting with your business network, catching up with your Facebook and LinkedIn groups or reading the latest business book to ensure you stay inspired.
It’s no wonder family and friends can end up getting pretty fed up with you!
It’s hard to empathise.
People who don’t run their own business can find it tricky to get inside the head of a business owner.
They can struggle to understand how difficult it is to switch off and the tendency to be distracted. In fact this trait exposes one of the key differences between entrepreneurship and employment. As a small business owner, if you don’t deliver you don’t get paid. If you fail to find and keep customers, your business will rapidly go under.
In comparison, in paid employment, although there are lots of challenges, the breadth of the job is often narrower – to the extent you can focus on your role as opposed to juggling all manner of hats.
But it’s not an excuse.
If you find yourself constantly justifying your workload to friends and family, it’s time for a different approach. After all, this friction can have a negative impact on your business and your relationships.
Here are five ideas that work for me:
- 1. Schedule your work time: then lock the door and ensure you’re not disturbed during those hours.
- 2. Explain what’s on your plate: help your loved ones understand what you’re dealing with and what you need to do to succeed.
- 3. Get them involved: could your kids help with some brainstorming? Could your partner offer the fresh eyes that that problem you’re tackling desperately needs.
- 4. Schedule quality time out: We eat together, I have cuddle times with my girls and stories at bedtime is my favourite time of the day. I can then head back to work with a clear conscience and fresh eyes.
- 5. Take one day off a week: WITHOUT FAIL. Extend the boundaries of who you are as an individual and do something that doesn’t involve work at least one day a week.
You need time out.
Without time out you can become stale. You can lose your motivation. Your stress levels will rise and your productivity will fall. And ultimately your business, your family and you suffer.
So this Christmas, take the opportunity to put things back into perspective. And if you’re the sort of business owner who struggles to take time off be different…
- Set an out of hours message on your emails
- Schedule your tweets
- Put aside the business books
- Blank out your diary
And spend real quality, focused time with those who you love.
- Play stupid board games with your kids
- Belly laugh at the latest comedy movie
- Ban business as a topic of conversation at dinner
- Plan some festive family day trips
And really enjoy a quality break.
Your friends and family will appreciate it and your business brain will also benefit from a spot of relaxation.
It’s so easy to be pulled along by your business that you can lose sight of what’s really important. Remember you work to live. You don’t live to work.
If ever I need a reality check I remember this simple quote…
“Kids spell love T I M E”.
So this festive season, whilst you are taking that well deserved time out, also reflect on what this hard work and sacrifice is all for.
And remember the message at the essence of this blog: Work less, earn more and free up your time…
Over to you.
How do you justify the hours you work to your family? What strategies do you have in place to ensure you spend quality time with the people that matter to you? Please tell me in the comments below.