Saturday, 18 May 2019

Taking a week away from my small business : 8 lessons learned

I have a really busy June and July (and probably August too) - I absolutely love being busy but I also know how easy it is to burn out too. Last week I was starting to feel so bored, lonely and just stuck in a rut with life. It's like every day was the same and I was going crazy with the monotony of it all. I feel like I'm at the stage in my career now where I very much know what I'm doing, I can do it well but I can also do it with my eyes closed if I need to. I needed a break and I needed some inspiration. So when I checked the forecast and the weather was going to be glorious, I jiggled a few things around in my diary and took a whole week off work. I've never done this before but it was absolute bliss.




1 - Facebook and writing are what I need breaks from 

OK so technically, I didn't take a full week off work. I still posted on Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin and I still replied to emails. I am an over-sharer by nature and I think not being able to share a nice day out or hidden gem would do me more harm than good. Posting on Instagram and Twitter never really feels like work though and it is very much 'in the moment'.

I did put a ban on posting from my Facebook page though. Facebook is my baby and I am so precious about it (as ridiculous as this sounds). I've set myself a target of reaching 20k Facebook followers this year and I work VERY hard at trying to achieve this. For me, I couldn't just upload a photo or publish on Facebook without really thinking about it like I do on Instagram or Twitter. I always take a lot of care over my captions etc... on Facebook and make sure the content is the best it can be. I am also terrible for tracking Facebook analytics and obsess over them (to help me reach my goal). So if I was to have any kind of break, a blanket ban was needed.

I also needed a break from writing. When you're writing day in, day out, you lose inspiration I think. I moved a few deadlines back and worked smarter to bring deadlines forward before my break to ensure I could have a full week without writing.

It's important to me that I'm professional and didn't want a huge backlog of emails to come back to after my break so I spent 30 minutes each day replying to my emails. It felt good to agree to new work and sign new contracts for future work when I was on holiday. I actually managed to agree to £2k worth of future work during my time off which had me thinking I should maybe take more time off.

2 - Reading and getting outside really do improve mood

My mood had really been low before my break but I found that getting out and about and enjoying nature plus reading really improved things significantly for me. All of these are absolutely free and I need to make more of an effort to incorporate getting out and reading into my daily/weekly routines. It's not practical for me to take full weeks off work very often but I think an extra few hours here and there dedicated to going for a walk in the woods or by the beach or finding a nice spot to read will do me the world of good.

3 - Headspace is a good thing

Knowing that I didn't need to write anything and had no immediate to-do list or deadlines really provided me with so much headspace for the week. I had time to sort out those niggly jobs in the house I'd been putting off for ages as I didn't feel like I had time which in turn, meant our house feels more organised and less cluttered. Having time to just walk along the beach gave me so much time to think and really did provide inspiration.

During my week off, I naturally wanted to start listening to sleep meditation at night again - it's like putting my mental health at the front of my mind and making it a priority was important again. I definitely slept much more soundly and had no work worries buzzing around my head.

Finally, as much as I HATE saying this, taking time away from work really did make me a better wife and mam. At the moment, I spend until around 5pm on my laptop working when the kids are home from school and definitely don't give them my full attention. Not that this is a fully bad thing of course - I don't want my children to think I am at their beck and call and want them to live their own lives. However I can't deny it was lovely picking them up from school and going to the park for an hour or sitting and watching TV with them with no work distractions. I was definitely a better wife too and Steve had a lot more of my attention when work wasn't constantly on my brain. This isn't sustainable (especially as I actually love my job) but having different priorities for a few days was really nice.

4 - Time off needs to be planned for, but can be achieved 

When you're a business owner, you can never switch off as it just becomes part of your life. We're often guilty of always being busy or having to work unsociable hours to meet deadlines. However, I have learned that we can prioritise time off and it is definitely achievable. I'm going to try and have another week like this at the end of August with the kids. The week is marked in my diary now so I know not to agree to any work that week. I won't lose out financially as brands are usually pretty flexible with deadlines and I can move deadlines to the week before or afterwards instead.

5 - Going out alone can cure loneliness

I spent two days of my week off completely by myself and if I'm honest, they were probably two of my favourite days. On the first day I popped to Belsay Hall where I enjoyed a lovely walk and sat and read my book for a few hours. It wasn't busy at all but every single person I passed said hello and I had a couple of chats with random strangers in the gardens about how beautiful the plants were. These little insignificant chats really put a smile on my face and helped me to realise I wasn't alone.

On the second day, I spent the afternoon at Druridge Bay beach which is a gorgeous dog-friendly beach in Northumberland. I loved watching the dogs and their owners having lots of fun and one golden retriever came and sat next to me for a cuddle and a stroke on my picnic blanket. I honestly had the best afternoon and reckon I received some of the benefits of owning a dog that day.

6 - Networking and coffee dates are important 

I am so guilty of spending my full week at home in front of my laptop at home and not getting out and about. I forced myself out during my week off though and I couldn't believe the missed networking opportunities I've had staying at home. I bumped into a marketing manager for North Tyneside Parks as I was having coffee at Rising Sun Country Park after dropping Steve at work one morning and we had a bit of a chat, then the following day I bumped into the manager of Spanish City as I enjoyed breakfast with my mam - I've worked with Spanish City before but had not met the manager so it was nice to put a name to a face. Then I met countless businesses and friends/followers who I chat with online regularly just at random locations when I was out and about. Honestly going out for coffee is never just that - getting out of the house definitely opens the doors to opportunities. Chatting face to face with somebody is always better than via email or social media.

I also made time to have coffee / brunch with Steve, my mam and my brother during my week off and it was so lovely to have a proper catch up somewhere other than home.

7 - Posting about real life is relatable

As a blogger, I have a pretty good life. I know I do. But I think it's important to share the not-so-good parts too. In the weeks leading up to my week off, I posted about how sad I was feeling and it resonated with a lot of people. This brought so much reassurance to me and has urged me to post even more about real life and not just the fantastic parts.

8 - Now is the time to work through your bucket list 

I have a huge list of places I want to visit saved in my phone notes. During my week off I was able to tick a few experiences off like breakfast at Spanish City and having Pizza from Box.Pizza in Beadnell. Visiting new places and trying new experiences like this made me so happy and everyone needs more happiness in their life. I'm going to make it my mission to visit somewhere new from my list every couple of weeks, to live for today and stop saving my special list for weekends or school holidays. Life is for living and now is the time.




How do you feel about taking time away from your small business?


3 comments

  1. Sounds like a glorious week 😊

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  2. A week off sounded like it was exactly what you needed! It is so easy for us to burn out (especially being a mum) because we have so many plates spinning. Taking some time out for just US is really hard to do but worth it and we should do it more often! Good job you love your job so no Monday blues tomorrow? 😜

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  3. So glad you enjoyed your week off, it sounds incredible! I have to say I LOVE going out and about on my own, it really does encourage you to notice things and make conversations with strangers. My last solo day I met a really interesting film student at By The River Brewery, we shared a table while we drank our coffee and had such a lovely chat, I never would have done that if I'd been with someone else already. I'd love to be able to take a day off every few months to just spend a day like that, it's the best!

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