Last week my best friends from Maryland came to visit me in San Diego for the first time! We had so much fun lounging at the beach, hiking Torrey Pines, eating Cali burritos, and touring around this beautiful city.
I unplugged from work while they were here, and I came back feeling so refreshed, recharged, and ready to dive in with my clients.
Between this experience and my trip to Mexico with my fiancé Will in April, it's clear that I am my best self (and the best coach to my clients) when I make play a priority!
I am reminded of this every time I take a day off, but unless someone is visiting or I have a trip planned for something specific, it's sooo easy to just keep plugging ahead without remembering to schedule breathers.
I'm not alone in this. Most of my clients are also hard workers, perfectionists, and over-achievers. We love what we do, we're proud of what we've built, and we find it challenging to step away from our work. It's just too tempting to keep going, especially when we've started to build some momentum!
So how do you not just catch a break but create one when your tendency is to keep things moving? How do you take guilt-free time off of work when there's no one telling you how to structure your time or outlining your paid time off for you?
Below, I've shared the 10 steps that help me the most in doing just that!
Here are my top recommendations for taking time off of work (especially when you're your own boss!):
1) Remember that taking time off is both an option and necessary for avoiding burnout!
This might sound simple, but it's easy to forget that yes, you can take days or even weeks off of work! Sometimes we think we haven't "earned" it yet, or we worry that if we take our foot off the pedal even a little bit, our whole business will fall apart. Lies! These are crazy lies that our ego tells us to keep pushing, pushing, pushing. This way of operating is fear-based and ultimately leads to burnout. The truth is that rest makes you more productive in the long-run anyway. So, that said...
2) Give yourself permission to take time off
Pick your days off and block them out in your calendar in the same way you would if you worked for a company. Then, consider it a done deal.
3) Turn to role models for inspiration
If you're finding it challenging to justify taking time off (or you're tempted to schedule something work-related on a day off), bring to mind an entrepreneur you admire who advocates for plenty of rest and play. Collect evidence in support of your own self-care. If you look for it, you will find it.
4) Cover your bases ahead of time
Again, view this the same way you would if you worked for someone else. During the weeks leading up to your trip, plan everything out in advance so you can leave the office with all of your ducks in a row and unplug without worry.
5) Create realistic boundaries (and stick to them!)
Decide ahead of time what tasks you will and will not do while out of the office. You know how you operate better than anyone, so figure out what your ideal version of being off of work duty looks like, and plan for it.
For instance, I decided ahead of time that I would check email once per day to ensure there were no urgent client requests coming through, but I would set up an out-of-office alert, and not reply to normal messages during my time off.
Each morning, I checked my inbox before my friends woke up, and then I unplugged for the rest of the day. This allowed me to keep my finger on the pulse of my business while still spending the vast majority of my day in full-on staycation mode.
So, knowing how you like to operate, ask yourself: what are some ground rules I can set up ahead of time and realistically stick to?
6) Set an intention ahead of time
Take a moment to get clear about how you want to feel during your time off. If there were one, over-arching feeling you could generate on your vacation, what would it be? Identify and then sit with that feeling.
Notice how the simple act of thinking about it can start to generate the feeling in your body. Our thoughts are powerful, as are our intentions.
Finish this sentence: "My intention is to feel as _____ as possible over the next ____ days."
7) Plan for disruptions in your routine
There were 2 days where I knew I wouldn't be home or able to stick with my usual morning routine, so I chose to give myself a break and skip them.
By deciding this ahead of time, I avoided feeling guilty the day of when I veered from my usual routine. I'd already planned for it, after all!
However, for the most part I suggest that you...
8) keep up your daily routines
Just because you're taking time off, it doesn't mean you should let all of your good habits fall by the wayside!
Keeping up with the routines that help you feel grounded and efficient at work will similarly enhance your time off.
For me, this meant starting every day with warm lemon water, journaling, a thought exercise (where I rewire any thoughts that aren't serving me), and reading. I also made sure to move my body in some way at least once per day.
I know that taking care of myself in these ways allowed me to be more present, energized, and alert during the time I spent with my friends!
9) After your trip, write down how good you feel
Writing down your experience will help solidify it in your memory, and having it recorded will provide you with a reference point for the future.
If/when your brain ever tries to convince you that you don't need time off (or you feel guilty about scheduling a trip), you will be able to look back on this trip's experience and remember how worthwhile it was.
10) Build in buffer time
I recommend blocking out at least half a day to ease back into work, though a full day set aside to reacclimatize is even better! Gift yourself time to take care of life stuff like unpacking, doing laundry, checking emails, and catching up on sleep.
I notice a big difference when I'm intentional about setting aside to ease back into work!
Most entrepreneurs I know started their own companies in part because they were craving the freedom and independence that comes with being their own boss.
Yet when perfectionist/achiever tendencies are not kept in check, having full dominion over our time and schedule can be a curse as much as it is a blessing. Before we know it, our own businesses can make us feel just as trapped as our previous jobs.
Don't forget that you have the power to shift things in any moment. You can design the life you want right now – there is nothing you need to do to "earn it." You've done enough. You're doing plenty. So gift yourself and your business time off to recalibrate. You deserve it!
P.S. I'll be sharing more fun pics from my San Diego staycation on my Instagram account soon! If you don't already follow me but want to connect, you can find me @megladd :)