Make More Happen

Workaholics Need Some Guilt-Free Time Off, Too

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Many entrepreneurs love to work. If you are anything like me, you view life as either creating or consuming. If you are doing something you love that makes a difference, the creating part of life counts as both work and fun.

However, if you really enjoy your work, you may fall into the trap of becoming a workaholic who feels guilty when you are not working.

Do you:

  • Have your laptop, phone or tablet out when you are watching television?
  • Check your phone during dinner and meetings?
  • Spend nights and weekends catching up on emails or projects?
  • Forgo vacations because you feel like you can’t get away?

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If you answered yes to any of the above, you are likely a workaholic. And if you answered yes to many of the above, you are definitely a workaholic. However, even if you truly derive great pleasure from your work, you need to have some downtime.

Think about a computer that is always on and running -- and if it’s an entrepreneur’s computer, much like mine -- it likely has 15 different windows and programs open at all times. What happens to that computer? The information gets fragmented and starts to work sluggishly. But, taking the time to shut down the computer regularly, reboot it and to defragment the hard drive helps to keep the performance of the computer at its highest level.

You are no different. As an entrepreneur, you are pulled in dozens of different directions at any given time. You are multi-tasking, wearing different “hats” and always on the go. However, constantly being in work-mode doesn’t allow your brain and body to have the time to catch up on all the information that you have been processing.

So, take some downtime to do nothing. Even if you are watching television, exercising or sitting idle, you are truly still working -- your brain is processing in the background all of the information that it hasn’t found time to catch up on. Think about it. How often do you find that your most creative time is in the shower, lying in bed or first thing in the morning? It’s because you are not distracted with doing and have time for your own processor to reboot.

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I recently returned from my yearly reboot, where I take two weeks to completely shut down, including going on an electronic sabbatical (a fancy way of saying no email, no Internet and no phone calls). As difficult as it was in the beginning to do, I have learned to give my clients and staff a heads up on my timing and have them expect for me not to be available. What I have found is that they find a way to manage without me and I get a chance to really reset myself so that I can continue to perform at my best for all of them when I return.

As a bonus, stepping away from work gives more clarity on little things that are eating up time that can be discarded from your routine, including tasks that can be delegated and email lists that need to be unsubscribed from.

I advocate taking both some scheduled downtime for a longer period (at least a week) and shorter bursts of resetting on a regular basis.

And remember, you don’t have to feel guilty about carving out some time to not work—you’ll actually be doing lots of great, creative work that you just don’t realize.

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