“Do you ever take a day off?”
I had just finished sending off a hefty email to a client when that text came in from my boyfriend. ‘Of course, I do’, I thought. I take breaks all the time! Yet in the back of my mind, I knew that answer was way off. Since I started freelancing, I hadn’t taken a single day off–I always found a way to get some work done. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a full night’s rest, or when I had done something spontaneous with friends without it being planned.
Building a business from the ground up is no joke. You would think that because you work for yourself the freedom of the “Nine to Five” it doesn’t mean that you can’t work without one altogether. This first month of freelancing, I averaged roughly 55 hours a week working on building my business and working with clients–and I don’t have any plans of slowing down. However, those days were met with me feeling tired, disorganized, and sometimes just downright lazy because of the how sporadic my ‘schedule’ was! This is what is known in the business world as burnout, and yes everybody feels it. In fact, due to burnout, only 44% of business owners survive the first 4 years. Yikes!
The fulfillment of my life (or business) shouldn’t need to be measured by how full my planner is, and I am slowly learning how to balance between relaxation and work.
Do you ever feel like that from time to time? Thankfully I have figured out what I needed to change in order to be effective with my time, get my work done, but enjoy the very reason I began freelancing in the first place!
Turn OFF the phone
My phone is my main offender when it comes to work.We are so connected to our phones, and the information overload of emails, social media, Internet etc. can add unnecessary stress to our lives. Also, all of my accounts are connected, so I am constantly getting notifications from clients around the clock, even when I am not working! So whenever I need a break or am closing up shop, I turn my phone off. Whether it’s hiding all notifications or simply clicking off that power button, turning off your phone makes it really difficult to be tempted to work when you say you won’t.
Schedule Your Breaks
Despite working from home, setting up a work schedule is crucial in keeping your work/life balance. When first starting out, I wouldn’t pay much attention to how long I would work, and to know one’s surprise, I would be incredibly exhausted by the end of the day. I now write down what I want to get done in a planner for the day, including my breaks. Having scheduled breaks made all the difference to having a productive day compared to a stressful day. Pro tip: In all my professional channels with clients, I plainly state what my work hours are so they know when they can expect to hear from me.
Tackle only 3-5 Things a Day
This is a trick my business coach taught me–when dealing with large projects, break things down to 3-5 actionable tasks per day. No more, no less. This way, you can spend less brain power worrying about the big picture, and more time working on the things that matter. Setting those priorities during your work day allows you to focus on work on items that help your business grow.
Take A Walk
Doesn’t need to be planned. Just walk downtown, or take the dog out. Walk the mall and people watch. Allow your mind to wander without worry of what’s next on the agenda. I like to walk around my office and just enjoy being outside after spending 8+ hours indoors.
My favorite thing to do as of late, however, is to just stop moving and really take in everything that is happening around me. Taking in the sounds of cars passing by, the soft breeze, fuzzy chatter from people walking by–it’s a humbling moment for me that really gives me a chance to be grateful for what I have in life.
Don’t Work On All Projects Every Single Day
Despite popular belief; multi-tasking is not something you should do when working on your business.You know how in workouts you exercise certain muscle groups on different days? That’s how I like to think of my days when I have multiple projects to work on. Some days I work a little on Projects A and C, and other days I work solely on Project B. It’s all based on how important each project is, and how much time is needed to complete each one. Giving myself a break from certain projects allows my brain to take a breather as well, and have a fresh perspective to each project with them scheduled on different days.
I’ve been trying to get back into my Bible, because I have felt too busy to even look in there sometimes, and it’s been helpful in putting my mind back at ease. Looking to God to grant me peace has been something I have struggled with but whenever I do remember to take those 10-15 minutes to pray and read, I can feel myself getting lighter and really accepting all of God’s grace. Here is a scripture I found that I think encompasses what I am feeling perfectly.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”Matthew 11:28-30(Message)
So as you go forward in your own journey, take a look at your schedule and see if you have time to fit “You-Time” in. We all need rest, and I think it’s important to remember that for a healthy and productive career!