We’re growing into a whole new obsession these days – to get back our time, to optimize our productivity, to get done more in less time. In this post, I’m here to talk about working less and playing more – why having time off is more important than working (even for online entrepreneurs!)
“From a holistic perspective, taking lots of time OFF is actually key to productivity. Your best ideas will happen while you’re away from work. Your motivation to succeed will be heightened if you have deep and meaningful relationships with friends and family. Your thinking and creativity will be better if you exercise daily. From an essential-perspective, you want to have lots of stimulating, stretching, entertaining, and beautiful areas of your life.” – Medium
Recently I’ve taken on a great habit of having a lot of time off. I’ve always appreciated the flexibility of my location independent lifestyle but only in the past few weeks I’ve learned to take this advantage to a whole new level. Here’s how and why having time off is more important than working.
Let’s start with the simple fact that I LOVE my work. Seriously.
I’m a freelance graphic designer and online course creator, blogging and digital marketing is also a huge part of my daily life and I love every bit of it.
I’m an absolute workaholic. I used to work 10 hours straight, day in and day out. Eventually, I learned to leverage my time investment and aim for daily 7-8 hours of work.
But, as we already know these days, not always being busy means getting the work done!
Now my goals have changed. And instead of working more my main goal is to have as much free time as I can get, even when it seems like a mission impossible.
Why having time off is more important than working
The culture of being overworked
If you’ve looked into any kind of a productivity tip these days or read an article about being successful, many of them repeat the same – you have to plan, have to be mindful about your goals and erase the distractions.
It’s literally a trend to be busy. Many of us are proud of having our schedules full weeks ahead of us. We live fast, we get into routines and we enjoy the ride.
I’m not here to say working is bad. On the contrary, actually. It’s important to find out what you love doing and get head first into that.
But being overworked, having nothing in life but work or dealing with issues in other things because of your schedule is not what life is all about.
The culture of “I’ll grab a coffee and go” or “I have time to chat for 5 mins” is glorified without a good reason.
These days, it’s the new cool. Just like hipsters were 2 years ago. Now, I think within 2 more years proper self-care and wellbeing will start taking over.
Everything starts and ends with your own wellbeing
It’s a simple fact that not everyone gets and I understand why. Once you’re obsessed with everything around you, it’s easy to detach from yourself.
Each morning we tend to get in a vicious cycle. Some more than others. But the baseline very often is the same – to work, to improve, to answer requests, to manage new connections. It’s always about everything that’s happening further than your own body.
Emails, calls, pitches. Even if you’re working truly for yourself and there’s no one to respond to and your day-to-day work includes blogging, video making, crafts or anything similar. It’s still a vicious cycle of doing and forgetting who’s doing it.
The truth is, literally everything in YOUR life starts and ends with YOU.
I don’t want to get real’ spiritual woo-doo here, but it’s very true. Whatever you think, you become. Your routines create your life. Your habits form you.
Benefits of having more time off
1. More happiness
2. Greater creativity
3. More inspiration
4. More purpose
5. More time
Do I have to add more? I think it’s all pretty obvious.
When we’re having RELAXING time off, when we’re having fun, nourishing our relationships and our hobbies, it feeds our soul. Literally!
Do you know that “OMG, I’m SO happy feeling!” or “This is SO peaceful!” – when you just want to immerse into this feeling and continue to be there forever? Sadly, many might not even guess what I’m talking about. It comes from having enough time for yourself, for your thoughts.
And that happiness is the feeling you can reach when you start to find more time off and realize that this excitement will rarely be found in work.
How to have more time off
It’s not the easiest task to do if you’re used to working for tens of hours straight.
But there are some minor things you can get started with to find the right path and eventually succeed in your efforts to have more time off. Here are a few of them!
Dedicate a bit of time each day for yourself
Start with an obvious basic of sparing some time for what YOU want to be doing. Completely business unrelated. It can be reading, running, going for a swim, yoga, even going to market for fresh products each morning. Whatever rocks your boat!
It’s great if your chosen activity gives at least some other benefit for you and is not completely useless. That’s why my preference is exercising and reading. Both give me joy, good mood and other physical or mental benefits. And I get some more time off. Win-win!
For workaholics, it’s important to understand that having some time for yourself on a daily basis is important. As stated in the benefits of having more free time – it will make you feel better, you’ll be more ready for a day or it’ll be easier to unwind, you’ll start to appreciate yourself more.
If you don’t have time for this. Well, you’re in a pickle. (But, the truth is, we all have time for that).
Review your to-do list and eliminate something from each of the upcoming days
If you’re a calendar freak like me, you already have it all planned – all of your tasks, meetings, outgoings.
Now, go ahead and eliminate one task from each day for the next week. One day you can skip emails (yes, you can!), another one – aim for a shorter meeting.
What’s important – eliminate something work-related. And voila! you have some free time for yourself.
It can be anything that works for you and will not really destroy your business. For example, if you have a meeting with your investors, better go ahead and own it. But if it’s something you could do another day or you could spend less time on – go ahead and eliminate it!
This will give you the feeling that the world doesn’t end if you just take a step back. Yes, sometimes, you’ll have to find the time on another day to get it done but very often skipping a task actually helps to increase your productivity and get the task done faster the next time you’re on it.
Learn to say NO!
This one could be called yet another trend. But learning to say “no!” is really important for your own wellbeing and it’s also an amazing option to get more time off.
This is especially true when you have a more free calendar. I had a tendency to stuff my calendar and if it wasn’t fully full and something came up, I said YES. Because, hey, I have some free spots there.
But it’s a messed up thinking. If you have free time on your calendar – cherish it, spend it for yourself, do some recreational activities. And if you don’t have this time, you shouldn’t even consider saying yes.
Remember that saying “no” doesn’t really mean burning all bridges.
Saying no can be all about saying no for now. Not this week, not on this project, not for this specific task. You can stay respectful and don’t burn all the bridges.
Appreciate your time off
With this neverending rush in our lives, we’ve managed to forget how it is to actually enjoy and appreciate what we have. Maybe that’s why gratitude is another rather trendy thing to pay attention to.
One of the best things to practice is to actually take a breath, look around and embrace the moment. Living more intentionally is a big part of a more successful life.
When you’ve managed to make this free moment, don’t waste it by thinking about your work, checking phone or tracking time to make sure you’re back on track as soon as possible. Lock out of the reality and immerse into your free time.
All of us should go for what feels the best in our own lives. But I’m pretty sure being happy, peaceful and intentional are feelings that’ll make anyone feel better and actually appreciate this journey called life!