My husband and I often get accused of being workaholics and maybe in some ways that’s true. We’re self-employed, working together on several businesses, and no matter the day or time there’s always something requiring our immediate and full attention.
In the past, on an average day you’d find us either working or spending time with our kids and that’s about it. For the longest time we let the businesses rule us. Long days and late nights with almost no down time were normal.
It’s no surprise that we began to burn out. The love for our businesses was just as strong, our work ethic and commitment to our customers never wavered, but the intensity we had in the beginning had diminished quite a bit.
No matter how much you love what you do, the simple fact is, human beings aren’t meant to work 24/7. No matter what the hashtags try and tell us, it’s just not possible to maintain mental and physical health while putting yourself under that kind of pressure.
Knowing this, we made some changes to our lifestyle. (We actually did something CRAZY and decided to add things into our already packed days.)
The most surprising side effect of these changes? Even though we took time away from our businesses, we actually became more productive.
This is what we did to switch off:
1. Screen-free or phone-down time
In our home we have at least one meal together as a family and this is screen- free time. Computers and iPads go away. TV off. Phones on silent (and out of arm’s reach).
As much as you might think people wouldn’t be calling during meal times anyway, they actually do. That said, when we made ourselves unavailable for calls and emails during those times, our businesses didn’t suffer.
And, of course, our family benefited from the ability to actively engage in discussion without interruption.
2. Got a hobby
And no, I don’t mean Netflix!
I mean a real, get in and get your hands dirty hobby. I love art and drawing, and in my local area, a life drawing group meets once a month. When I’m drawing I am completely switched off. For those couple of hours it’s just me and the charcoal.
3. Joined a sports team
This one has multiple benefits. Physical exercise, social gathering, stress relief and down time away from your business. The trick here is finding a sport that you really love so you will commit to playing on a regular basis.
I can’t think of anything better to do on a Monday night than hitting a puck around the ice and am eagerly awaiting the start of the ice-hockey season. My husband, on the other hand, enjoys a more tranquil day on the field shooting archery. Even if you’re not naturally a ‘sporty’ person, there is something out there for everyone!
Probably the first thing you’re thinking as you read this is “Yeah right, I don’t have the money or the time to travel.” But you can find the time and money if you get creative!
Two weeks ago, in desperate need of a holiday, we packed up the kids and the car and drove 10 minutes down the road. We pitched a tent on the beach, watched the sunset, slept under the stars and greeted the dawn before coming home at lunchtime the next day.
When we got home we were relaxed and ready to tackle the week ahead. And the best part, we’d had a holiday that had only cost us some fuel and because we had stayed local, our customers were none the wiser.
5. Socialise with friends
Being in business and working for yourself can be very isolating and one of the biggest mistakes you can make is turning down social invites from your friends. Trust me, do it often enough and the invites will stop coming.
I’ve found being with friends is one of the best ways to switch off and stop thinking about work.
Loving your work is vital to success, but loving your work too much can have devastating consequences on your health and your business. Get creative and learn to switch off, your business and your body will thank you!
What do you do to switch off from work?