Are you too busy? Time to take time off

Take time off

Let’s face it, nobody likes to be stuck twiddling their thumbs.  If you’re in work, whether as an employee or business owner, being idle is a source of stress.  Is the business failing?  Or are your skills not what your employer’s business needs any longer?  Taking a holiday could seem like a bit of a risk.

In contrast, being busy is seen as a plus.  You’re industrious, working hard and earning your keep.  Even though we’re all aware of the dangers of stress, many employers continue to look favourably on people who work late as opposed to those who leave on time.

Are you living your job?

Being self-employed can be a double edged sword. I work from home so can set my own hours to a certain extent.  There’s still every chance that I’ll spend my evening doing client research.  Or I’ll scribble notes for my next blog post when they jump into my brain at bedtime.  Conversely, when I was more conventionally employed I could (mostly) happily switch my computer off and head for the train home without a backward glance.  Strangely, I don’t mind the midnight content ideas at all.  I love what I do so it doesn’t feel like work.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I don’t value time off.  I’ve always written, regardless of whether I’m getting paid or not, but I still need down time.  If I spent my life in front of a Word document or with my gaze firmly on my notebook, I’d run out of things to write about pretty fast.  Social media is a huge asset as it links me to the outside world even when I’m sitting at my desk.  At the same time, I’ve increasingly started to feel that I’m living my life through a Facebook filter.  I only fully disconnect when I go to sleep.  I find myself sitting in the same room as my loved ones and we’re both on our phones, sometimes both commenting on the same posts.  It’s ridiculous.

What I’ve learned from taking a holiday

It didn’t used to be like this.  A few years ago I took a solo trip around Iguazu fallsArgentina.  There was some sporadic access to the internet, but I also stayed in the sort of places where you had to have a wind up torch in case the power failed during a rainstorm.  Iguazu Falls are absolutely stunning, but it rained so much in the night that I fully expected to see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse heading my way.  I’ve gazed out over the Patagonian wilderness, sat in a French Jacuzzi and lost radio signal on a New Zealand highway.  I never felt the need to add any kind of digital layer to the experience.  I just enjoyed the peace.  Except for our NZ radio failure – I was with my husband and we drew on our long tradition of singing Pogues songs on the way home from the pub!

I’ve come to realise that those moments helped me to enjoy the present and just have some fun.  They’ve also improved my focus.  My time on social media is often spent dotting around between exciting new things; a useful business post here, my friend’s holiday photos over there.  The times that I sit looking out of the window with my notebook in my hand, or go for a walk with my phone on mute, are when I get my best ideas.  I get rid of the distractions and can begin to think clearly about where I’m heading and how to get there.

Do you need to switch off too?  You could come up with an amazing plan!

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