Imagine taking a break from work and earning more money than when you stayed in the office. I discovered that this dream can actually become a reality, so today I want to talk to you about avoiding burnout and reclaiming your creativity.
In the world of western commerce, we’re told how important it is to hustle, work hard and that free time is wasted time – we’re rarely told how important it is to take time off. This is is crazy to me, because when I take time off I come back recharged and actually create much more of an impact than when I’m toiling away at my desk for months on end. It might sound incredible to you but the years in which I’ve taken the most ‘holidays’ are the years that I have made the most money.
As a creative entrepreneur, I can guarantee that you work harder than most regular employees; you also almost certainly wear several hats – marketing, building websites, creating content and even working for free. All of this you do because you love it but it can also be exhausting. So how do we avoid burnout at work AND increase productivity?
Realistically, we can’t always jump on a plane to an exotic location every time we feel a little overwhelmed at work. Saving up for a holiday abroad, getting someone to look after the kids, dogs, house, etc. – this can add to your stress levels. The answer? Take a mini-vacation every day. This can be just one hour that you set aside for yourself in which you go for a walk, head to yoga, listen to podcasts – anything that just takes you out of the world of work and into your own space. I go for a walk every morning with my dog and when I arrive at the office, I’m so much more energised than if I’ve just rolled out of bed. It’s also when I get my best ideas, which, for a business owner, is crucial.
I’m all about creating the biggest impact with the work that I do, and this means more time brainstorming and less time actually at my desk. That’s why I start every day by creating a To Do list on Asana and then as soon as I finish my tasks, I can go home. If this happens at 11 a.m., great! I can come back and start a new day tomorrow.
Full disclosure: I want to practise what I preach, so I need to tell you that right now is a very busy time for me. I run several businesses that are going full-pelt at the moment; I don’t remember when I last took a full day off. But that’s why my mini-holidays every day are SO IMPORTANT! They allow me the space to recharge and come up with new inspiration.
Everyone has that friend who’s always working, rarely available to hang out but never really seems to be progressing very quickly (if at all). Then there are those other friends who always seem to be travelling, hanging out and partying but always show up on your social media, growing their business and having a really good time while doing it. This is because when you step away from your business, you have more space to view it from the outside and see how others see it, which in turn will allow you to improve your services.
When I go on holiday, I interact with other businesses – not necessarily ones in my industries but hotels, airlines, etc. – and I think about how I interacted with them, how they made me feel as a customer, what their booking process was like, etc. and then I look at how I can put that into my business. This is something I could never do from my desk!
Last year I took three months off work and travelled around the US and Europe. I had a lot of time in airports, on planes and buses, so I made myself a deal – every time I was in transit, I’d get my laptop out and write an eBook. It was such a fun project and one that I would never have the time to do unless I stepped away from the office – and by the time I got back I had an eBook!
I’m a big proponent of this concept and I’m always thinking of how to repurpose and repackage the little amount of time that you have each day to make an impact. For example, if I’m meeting a friend who works in business or a client with whom I have a strong relationship, there’s an opportunity to get the microphone out and create a podcast.
I employ about 10-12 staff across all of my businesses, so I know think what can I do now, what can I postpone to later and what can I delegate to someone else? As I said, right now I’m incredibly busy so I’m actually looking at doubling the impact I make by delegating a lot of the really impactful jobs to someone else so I can look around for new trends and fresh inspiration. This isn’t always the best way to run a business, as organic growth is usually preferable – but it’s how I have always approached business and will always want to push growth that little bit extra.
If you’re a business owner and you feel underpaid, stressed and don’t get enough time off then I have to be honest – you’re a crappy boss! I wouldn’t want to work for you, nor would other people and I don’t think you do either. Make sure that you are treating your main employee (you!) well and look after your mental health with regular holidays and rejuvenating breaks.
When you go to the gym and work out, it’s actually the rest days when you grow. It’s the same when you’re at the office – build up when you take a break and you’ll come back and see a marked improvement.
As we head into the festive season, many of you might be tempted to power through and work, work, work – it’s so important not to do this and take a proper holiday, see your friends and family, put aside time for yourself and come back and start 2020 well-rested and stronger than before.