Aren’t bank holidays great?! We’re all united (sorry bar workers and any service industry) on a Sunday knowing that there is a whole extra day to do whatever we like! But what about us self-employed lot?
In the early stages of my business, bank holidays (and weekends) were non existent. My time was the clients’ and not for silly things like having a social life or looking after myself. That would be daft right?
It took a few years and a few wise words from some very good friends but I realised that productivity isn’t just down to the quantity of work you can produce. You need to give yourself time away from work to produce quality material. People always told me I need to look after myself before I can look after others. And that applies to your business too. It seems like obvious advice but how do you put it into practice? Take a bath once in a while? Go for a walk? Shove
popcorn fruit into my face?
I really struggled with the idea of taking time out and getting away from work for a bit. Especially when I was halfway through a project, I couldn’t leave it be. Working through the night and then starting early again the next day, 7 days a week. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that isn’t healthy or sustainable. But I kept doing it because when I stopped and actually had a holiday I was usually ill for the majority of it. Because my body could finally rest. Did I listen to my body? Nope! In my head I figured “hey if I don’t give my body chance to rest, then I can’t get ill!”. Bloomin’ genius me.
This was bad for many reasons. Getting ill whenever I had time off meant I missed a lot of events with friends and family. Lack of socialising meant getting isolated and communication skills faded. Lack of communication skills meant meeting clients was highly stressful. Stress meant more illness, now impacting on work and personal life. Productivity and motivation went down and with that the work load went down and the business suffered.
It took going to work counselling and some very patient friends to help me out of it. Here’s a few tips that I learnt that helped me:
- Take weekends off. Go out and do something each day. It doesn’t have to be big, even a wander around the local park.
- Take evenings for yourself. Give yourself a cut off point to finish each day. If the usual 9 to 5 doesn’t work for you, find times that do work. These can be adjusted as long as you make sure you have an evening away from work.
- Have an admin day. Set a day apart to catch up with tasks that can fall by the wayside. Sort emails, plan out the months work schedule, check your accounts, catch up with correspondence. These tasks can easily build up and cause major organisation issues in the long run. Plus this day is meant give you chance to take stock, think about the bigger picture and enhance your personal development. See my blog on learning new skills.
- See people. This was easily missed for me as I worked from home so the usual interaction wasn’t there. This can be easier said than done though especially if you’re in an unfamiliar area. So think about things you enjoy doing or would like to learn. Find out if there are any classes, sessions, meetups for said hobby and go to it! Unless it’s mime you usually get a chance to chat to other people and guess what, they share your hobby! Plus, you never know, potential new clients……no! This is your time! Okay give them a business card but try not to turn it into yet another meeting. Organise that separately.
- Take time to cook proper meals in the evening. I’m lucky in the respect that, even though I’m single, I have a good friendship with my flatmate and we cook our meals together. This is incredibly sociable, gives you something else to think about, is a great way to unwind and gives your body and mind much needed fuel. Don’t have a flatmate, partner, person who lives in your attic? Invite people over.
- Exercise. Working with a computer for the majority of the day has a big impact on my back and shoulders which can last for days. Find an exercise that is the exact opposite of what you’re doing for long periods of time. I sit for my job so I go for short walks to keep loose. My shoulders get tight so I swim to get my arms moving. I stare at a screen for large amounts of time so every chance I get I go to the peak district to look at beautiful views. You get the idea, you don’t have to become a professional footballer or anything, but getting moving really helps.
7. Take bank holidays off.
Too right you deserve to take the bank holiday off. But don’t spend it in the house (if you work from home) as you’ll just slide into doing more work. Get out and do something fun. Can’t work out what to do? Next time you’re on a Sunday evening and thinking, “I wish weekends were longer,” think about what you would do if that weekend was suddenly made longer. Write it down. Repeat. Get that list out before the next bank holiday, and you’ve got stuff to do!
So what did I do with my recent bank holiday I hear you shout?! (Maybe not…) Well I’m going to tell you. I went to a lovely place called Tia Rescue which is a rescue centre for greyhounds, shire horses, and donkeys. It got me out, moving, socialising and petting animals! Ticking all the boxes for a day off.
This by no way means that you have to do stuff all the time. If you need to rest then rest.
All I’m saying is look after yourselves. You’re worth it.