Working as an entrepreneur is a mixed bag. Those on the outside often see your excitement and enthusiasm and assume that entrepreneurs are the Energizer Bunny of the working world. I mean, who else would work weekends and holidays and late into the night, forging a social life for weeks for the sake of business?
But there’s another side, one that entrepreneurs are reluctant to talk about. That nagging voice in the morning that begs you to hit the snooze button just one more time. It’s in the procrastination that keeps you refilling your water bottle or just browsing Facebook instead of diving into the next project.
It’s even in the unspoken confession that some days, you just don’t feel like working.
Because on any given Tuesday in office around the world, managers receive voicemails or emails from their team members. Some are sick, others have unexpected family emergencies and some have planned days off.
I’m not talking about vacation, which you should take regularly, but just regular time off. Days where you can sleep in, have someone come by to work on your air conditioner or run all those errands which take up valuable time in the evenings. These are the days to renew your driver’s license and make calls about finding a better rate for your insurance and to finally get that flu shot.
It’s not uncommon in an office or retail setting for workers to take these days as long as there is sufficient notice and coverage.
So why don’t entrepreneurs?
Reason #1 – We don’t have a boss and rarely ask ourselves for time off
If there’s one thing entrepreneurs may never admit they miss about working for “the man” it’s the structure. In a regular 9-to-5 there are expectations and rules and if you want time off then you simply ask. Not having a boss means there’s no one to make this request of and no one to give you perspective when you clearly need a sick day.
Days off aren’t just for physical health reasons because we all know that if illness has prevented you from being on the phone with clients or in meetings, most of us will “work” from home, even on the couch with our laptops nearby.
Taking time off for your mental or spiritual health is just as important. Attending a retreat or spending some time alone to recharge your batteries is critical. So if asking for time of yourself seems weird simply put one day a month on your calendar that you dedicate to not working.
Reason #2 – Flexible schedules make a day off seem unnecessary
“Why do entrepreneurs need a day off when they can work whenever they want? Lazy bastards!”
At least that’s the sound of the voice in my head which sounds suspiciously like a former manager of mine.
The fact is whether you’re working sun up to sun down or just a few hours, the very passion and excitement entrepreneurs have for their businesses make mental time off rare. Even days when you’re going to work “later” get filled with emails or phone calls, the desire to check in or justifications, to yourself or others, about why you’re not working.
And if you’re using your flexible time to run errands there’s a tendency to take work along even if you’re less than productive trying to write copy while waiting for your car to get out of the shop.
Reason #3 – Guilt
Many moons ago, before I wised up, I listened to someone who told me if I wasn’t physically sitting at my desk working on my business from 8am-5pm every weekday then I wasn’t serious about success and heavily implied I would fail.
Do you know how guilty that made me feel every time I’d meet a colleague for coffee, take a midday walk or work from the easy chair in my living room which was easier on my back? You might have this same guilt, because soon after the wheeeeeeeee! feeling of having a flexible schedule comes the articles and workshop speakers and telesummits that proclaim that if you don’t create and stick to a schedule then you’re just lazy.
“I can’t take a day off – what will my clients think? My colleagues? If I’m not in the office on a weekday then I don’t care about my business!”
The same thoughts that run through our minds sound crazy coming from a 9-to-5 worker.
There is a reason that personal days were invented. To enable you to take care of personal things off company time.
Maybe you have a big health concern and need to spend some time researching options. Or a family member is graduating, moving or having a big birthday. Maybe you’d just like a day to rest and pamper yourself and do some chores around the house.
All of these things are permissible.
Taking time off doesn’t mean you’re less dedicated or invested in your business.
Do you know the only thing that really separates you from those other companies whose employees take time off? They’ve got systems that allow the business to keep on running, even when a bank teller or accountant is out for a day.
It becomes easier to take the time you need when there’s coverage and processes in place (it also prevents those emergency phone calls when you’re out of the office!).
Your challenge then, is not to systematize everything in your business first but instead to schedule time off for personal time and identify what systems you need in place when you get back to “the office.”