3 benefits of unplugging from your business; for creative entrepreneurs
One New York Enterprise Report survey found that small business owners work twice as much as regular employees. It also found that 33% of small business owners reported working more than 50 hours per week, and 25% said they work more than 60 hours weekly. Another study states just 57% of small business owners take vacations. And that vacation time tends to be far less than the traditional two weeks. And even when they’re on vacation, 67% of small business owners will check in to work at least once a day.
The first year or so of owning a business is much like when you first fall in love. You think about your business constantly, it’s always in the back of your head, and you want to spend every available waking moment with it. But after a while, the honeymoon stage wears off, and you question if you need some time apart or a break. I get it; unplugging from your business for a few days can feel really scary. It’s hard to wrap your head around stepping away when you are holding it all together, but it can also give invaluable perspective and breathe new life into your projects and ideas.
I love to travel, hike, and spend time outdoors. It teaches me so much about myself and is my favorite way to connect with the people in my life. Plus, I know that the change of scenery and time away from my work is one of the best things I can do for myself, my clients, and my business. So what does it mean to unplug? Unplugging from my business means no checking or responding to texts, emails, or being on social media.
Can I tell you a secret? If there’s a chance of having cell phone service, I will even turn my phone onto airplane mode so I’m not tempted to answer emails, text messages, or scroll Instagram.
When was the last time you totally disconnected from your clients and business?
I’m talking no cell service, social, or work (even content creation?). Disconnecting for a few days can be one of the best things for you and your business. Time away puts life and work into perspective, giving you newfound clarity for your business. This summer, I’ve been taking more time off than ever, working less, and getting more done, and I’m here to share one of my biggest secrets, the power of totally disconnecting from your business.
How can you grant yourself the right to disconnect?
I feel like I should preface this section by saying that I first learned about The Right To Disconnect by watching Emily in Paris. Season 2, episode 2, is a great example of the differences in mindset when it comes to taking time off in American culture vs. in others (in this example, France). If you are familiar with the show, Emily’s coworkers repeatedly tell her that working on a Sunday in France is illegal and to stop contacting them about work outside of the office. This is actually a real thing, called The Right To Disconnect. The law states that employers cannot require their employees to be available for workplace communication, like calls or emails, outside of regular work hours or during their time off.
“All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant,” says Socialist MP Benoit Hamon.” Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. Instead, they remain attached by a kind of electronic leash—like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails—they colonize the individual’s life to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.” The same ideas apply to entrepreneurship, running your own business, and working from home (if not more so).
True or False, to be a successful business owner, you do have to be available to your clients and customers 24/7.
You guessed it, false. Tying back into the idea of granting yourself the right to disconnect, as a creative entrepreneur, you also get the opportunity to model what it looks like to have healthy boundaries and take time off. Think about it this way, if you worked a “regular” job, you would get an XYZ amount of vacation time and paid holidays every year. As your very own CEO, are you doing the same? Are you on call even while you are off? If you were an employee, would you like how you were treated? Research consistently shows the health benefits of vacation time, like improved productivity, lower stress, and better mental health. How can you role model the way and create a culture within your business that encourages healthy boundaries, unlimited paid vacation days, and a work-from-home-life balance?
Truth be told, I’ve experienced cyclical burnout since my Senior year of college 6 years ago. Only in the last 6 months have I started to get a grasp on it. Despite owning my own business, renovating our first home, a busy social/family life, and traveling, I’m somehow keeping it pretty together. I still experience burnout (especially regarding my health). However, instead of being down and out for a week or more, I can usually nip it on the but and be back on my feet in a couple of days. When I’m feeling burnout creep in, disconnecting, whether for the day, a weekend, or a full-blown vacation, and practicing healthy boundaries in my business helps me keep my work-from-home-life balance in check.
A lack of clarity is one of the tell-tale signs of needing to disconnect from your business. Losing sight of your vision, not feeling excited about your work, or just feeling unclear about the next step is normal. Whenever I feel this way, I know it’s time to disconnect, unplug, and, if I can, get away. Time away from your business and clients (even if they are also your friends) gives you an invaluable perspective that can help you to create new intentions around your business and shift your vision to meet your goals.
Disconnecting from your business helps you to be more inspired and creative when returning to work. One study had participants disconnect from all digital devices and hike in nature for four days. Upon returning, they had a 50 percent spike in creativity. So the vacation doesn’t need to be long if you do it right: disconnect from your phone and email, connect with nature, and spend time with others.
Creating space and time away from your business and clients is one of the most empowering and powerful things you can do for your business. Whether that is taking a week away with no cell service or turning on your do not disturb after set business hours at night. You get the opportunity to set an example for your clients and create boundaries in your business. For more tips on starting and scaling your business sustainably and maintaining a work-from-home life balance, subscribe to the CJ newsletter, The Weekly Drop In.