Last week I took Thursday and Friday off to work on my book.
It was much needed time dedicated to my own writing, which I hadn’t had since late last year. I’d tinkered with it here and there, but I had not had two straight days of uninterrupted time for several months. Of course this will happen when you run your own business— there are many more pressing things to attend to than getting a book done.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was working non-stop, but 100 percent of my focus, even when I wasn’t in front of the computer, was on my business. That’s how it has to be sometimes, I get it. But before too long, if I’m not taking time to renew my mind by focusing on activities like my own creative work that restores my energy, then I’ll be depleted and won’t be able to give the business or my clients the attention that they need.
Taking time for myself is even more essential during times of crisis. With the added stress of uncertainty and all the emotions that come with it—fear, anxiety, worry, apathy, anger, etc.—taking a break from daily demands, obligations, responsibilities, means making space for self-care. Without it, those emotions build and spiral and before you know it, you’re exploding at something innocuous and you don’t even know why.
Sure, we are all spending more time at home, and so it may FEEL like we have more time “off.” But unless “off” is an intentional separation from life’s regular responsibilities, especially including a day job, then it isn’t truly time off. Time off for me last week looked like putting my phone on do-not-disturb, turning Slack notifications off and setting my status to “out of the office until Monday,” and running one program and one program only while on the computer: Scrivener.
I did not schedule any video calls. I did not check email. I did not check Slack.
Do you know what this did for me? It reinvigorated my excitement for my book project. It reminded me why I’m doing the work I’m doing, helping women to get their own books done. It renewed my passion for telling true stories, and sharing my own in a way that I hope will one day help the people who read it.
All of this renewed energy I can now bring into the work I’m doing with my clients this week. So while from a distance it may seem like for two days my business was neglected, the reality is that this week my business gets a better, more focused, reenergized version of myself.
You may be thinking that because I work for myself, I have the luxury of taking time off whenever I want. While that may technically be true, I do still have to be strategic about when and how much time off I take. But, yes, if I look at the month ahead and plan for days off, it’s doable, and I’m here to tell you that it’s doable for you too.
There are thousands of reasons why we can’t take time off.
But I challenge you: how CAN you find a way to take time off?
Can you and your partner take turns giving each other a day off from the kids, or the chores, or the animals, or whatever shared responsibilities you have?
Can you schedule a few days away by yourself to write, even if it’s in an AirBNB in the next town? ?
Can you designate a day-off zone in the house, which indicates do-not-disturb while you occupy that room or area?
There are creative ways to make time off work, even while the only things to do are stay home, grocery shop, or take a walk. And especially now, your brain needs a break. It needs a little bit of release that comes from relaxing, indulging, and generally treating yourself.
If you’d like more tips on creating a writing practice that works for you check out my free masterclass.