7 secrets to unplugging so you can recharge
When people find out that I work for myself, as I have done for over 16 years, they often say, “Wow, it must be so nice to work for yourself. You can take holidays when you want and work on your own schedule.”
And yes, I can.
But the funny thing, is while I do, technically, work for myself, I really work for my many clients – and do I ask them permission to take time off? Not usually, unless it’s a big project and we need to plan that in.
Often I will plan my holidays and let them know that I am taking the time off.
Well…this year I seemed to forget to tell all of them. I was pretty vague about my holidays as I was quite open to keeping in touch with my clients and projects while I was away and opened my coaching calendar to my VIP clients to ensure no one was left behind who needed me.
Well, let me tell you – if you are vaguely on holidays, that pretty much means you’re still working. If you are going to be any good to your clients, part of your brain still needs to be “on,” which means it won’t be getting the full rest and restoration holidays were designed to give it.
I’m currently reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington. Huffington is a firm believer in redefining success, as we currently know it, to include time for rest, restoration, play, meditation, and, most importantly, sleep. I couldn’t agree with her more. As an entrepreneur, I am “on” pretty much all of the time. It’s great to be able to create your workdays in a way that allows you to create a work/life balance scenario that serves you.
For me, that means ensuring I am available to my children before and after they go to school, and ensuring I have time to prepare dinner and get them to their many activities. For me, that means I have time to get myself, my family and my dog exercised and fed in a way that keeps us healthy and happy. For me, that means I often work early morning and evenings so I can carve out some time during the day to attend to family responsibilities.
It also means holiday time is an essential part of our annual calendar.
So this year, in my vagary around letting my clients know about my scheduled time off, I realized I needed to draw a line in the proverbial sand – for them and for me. So I started declining meeting requests and project deadlines, I put an “out of office” message on my email, and declared myself firmly ON HOLIDAYS for two whole weeks.
Here are my seven secrets to ensure that even the “always on” entrepreneur takes some time to “turn off”:
1. Book it
Your holidays aren’t going to happen if you don’t book them! This may make sense to most of you, but when you work for yourself, you want to serve your clients, all the time. That being said, if you don’t book the holiday, it won’t happen.
2. Let your clients know
This may seem obvious, but I was so busy this year I was sailing through Spring and early Summer and all of a sudden I was on holidays. Unless they asked, many of my clients didn’t even know about my holiday plans. Next year, I will put a note in my calendar to let my clients know my holiday plans. In fact, I’ve already done that and put an annual repeat on it. This is not a mistake I will be making again.
3. Put an “out of office” message on your email
I had stopped doing this in years past, but let’s be real…many of us still check email every day. Some people take a “digital holiday” and I am working my way up to that, but as a career consultant, checking email is in my blood. Once I put an “out of office” message on, the emails slowed down. And my need to respond to everyone in a timely fashion slowed down, too.
4. Post lots of happy photos of your holiday
There are several schools of thought about having your clients on your personal social media feeds. I subscribe to the school of thought of including them. I love to know about the people I work for as a purchaser and as a provider of services. Not much socializing tends to happen during work hours. Social media allows us to keep up with who the people are behind our workdays in our off hours. That means many of my clients follow me on my personal social media feeds, and I am happy to share my life with them. This also means they know I’m on holidays. This is a win-win!
5. Be ruthless with your time
It’s not enough to let your clients know you plan to take a holiday. You also have to actually take it. This is hard for the “always on” entrepreneur who “gets to decide” when they want to work. Being an entrepreneur is definitely a lifestyle choice – one I still happily choose – and you need to set hard boundaries if you are going to get the rest you need to recharge and be able to enthusiastically continue to serve your clientele. If you are on holidays, be “on holidays.”
6. Disconnect to recharge
This one is my favourite. What an oxymoron – you actually have to disconnect to recharge. Unlike our smartphones, which need to plug in at night to recharge, humans actually need to unplug to fully recharge. I take this very seriously. I really unplug. My summer holiday involves a log cabin that’s off the gird with no wifi – we have electricity because we put it in (I’m not that crazy), but no cable. Yup. Even my children have to have their friends maintain their Snapchat streaks (yes, this is a thing) – as they don’t have enough of a data plan to maintain the daily video messages to their countless friends. The result? My children talk to each other and to us, and we connect in a different – often more meaningful – way. And we recharge.
Now, you get to enjoy your holiday. That’s all you have to do! Go where the day takes you, enjoy your family and friends, be crazy, be nothing, be whatever you want to be. As my “cabin rules” sign says: Be lazy and crazy, Have camp fires, Eat and drink plenty, Take a nap, Enjoy the day.
So for now, I will enjoy my holiday.
Meanwhile, if you are a new or emerging entrepreneur and are starting to think about fall and kicking your business into high gear, have you thought about a Mastermind? In late September, I am launching The Accelerate Mastermind program for those service-based entrepreneurs who are still fairly new to the world of entrepreneurship. This program is for relatively new business owners who have been working on creating their new business and are starting to get into the operations of it. If you have been in business for five years or less and are looking for the structure and the support to “just keep going” in a small (eight person) group environment, led by a skilled coach and mentor, then The Accelerate Mastermind is for you.
Message me to learn more. Details and registration links will be on my website very soon, at www.susanelford.com. I’d love to support you on your business-building journey. Together we will celebrate your successes, develop new skills, and build community as you grow your new business and design your business lifestyle with more ease, skill and confidence than if you were to go it alone.
Join me? I can’t wait to hear from you.
To you success, in business and in life,
P.S. Not quite ready for a Mastermind and still trying to figure out what your business is about and how to market it? I have a program for that too. It’s an eight-part webinar series called “Accelerate! With your Personal Business Equation.” It gets you marketing ready and helps you design a business that fits your life. Cultivating new entrepreneurs is one of the things I love to do most. I invite you to join my community to gain the support, skill and structure you need to get you to the next level.
P.P.S. If this is speaking to you in a way that is sparking you to make some real change in your life or in your career, and you’re looking for more CLARITY about what’s next so you can be SUCCESSFUL in your career or your business, send me an email and we’ll set up time for a complimentary Strategy Session. We will get you well on your way to figuring out how you can make those needed changes so you can balance it all and feel fulfilled in your life and in your work.