Just turn it off.

by Monica on August 21, 2014

turn-offAs we near the end of summer, you are probably in one of three categories. One – you took a vacation but it wasn’t long enough and you wish you could go back. Two – you have a vacation planned for the future – but it just couldn’t be coming soon enough. Three – you are kicking yourself because you didn’t plan a vacation and you are feeling burnt out and jealous as you see your friends posting their vacation photos all over Facebook.

The aspect that makes this whole thing worse is the fact that you got into business because you wanted more freedom. And that “freedom” just doesn’t happen enough.

Sound familiar?

It’s something I hear all the time with my clients – the constant desire for balance. Balance between work and play. Balance between vacation and non-vacation time.

After being in business for nearly 10 years at this point and running two different companies – I know one thing for sure:

You need an OFF switch and an ON switch. And you must actually turn that switch OFF and ON in order to survive in your business over the long haul.

What I mean by hitting the OFF switch – is those times when you aren’t thinking, reading, or speaking about your business or the industry you are in. What you do in those moments is up to you. If you are more extroverted – it may be hanging with friends and family. If you are more introverted – it may be chilling alone or spending time with one person.

What I mean by hitting the ON switch – is those periods where you are totally focused on your business, following a plan and checking things off your to-do list. You are productive, focused and getting it done!

Here’s the key:

Many of you wait until you plan a “real vacation” before you hit the OFF switch. So that even during your so-called off time, like weekends and evenings – you’re still thinking and worrying about your business. As a result you are never really resting, except maybe that once or twice a year during your vacations.

This habit will drive you to burnout, disappointment and exhaustion. I’ve seen it over and over again. It will not make you more successful.

What needs to happen is that you hit that OFF button as frequently as you need to throughout the course of every single week. It’s a pulse – on, off, on, off all week long and all month long. When and how this looks will be different for each one of you. I encourage you to play with it for yourself.

Here are some examples from my clients and myself:

  • One of my clients does not start her day until 11 AM each morning. She uses the mornings to work out, meditate and write. This is her OFF time.
  • Another client takes a half-day every Wednesday. The latter half of the day is her hiking time and she takes 10 minutes to meditate and let go of her business prior to each hike.
  • When I travel to business events, I usually take the day before the event to explore the new city that I’m in or visit a museum.
  • One of my colleagues has a ritual. She finishes work everyday at 6 PM ET and then hops on her bike to ride around town. This helps to turn her mind OFF.

At first you might be worried about hitting that OFF switch. What if you don’t get it all done? What if you miss something? What will your clients say?

And for some of you that have been ON for years – you’ll wonder: What am I going to do in my OFF time if I can’t think, speak or read about work?

I totally get it. I love my work and if I allowed it – I would think, speak or read about it 24/7. But I’ve learned over the years that there are so many benefits to hitting the OFF button periodically throughout the week, month, and year.

First, it is during these moments that I get the best ideas. Seriously – ideas that are way better than anything that I would think of sitting at my desk. Million-dollar ideas.

Second, when I know I have off time coming up, I’m so much more efficient. I delegate better. I knock things off my list that are unimportant. And I get tasks that could take me 60 minutes done in 20 minutes. Water always expands to the size of its container. Time is the same way. If you constrict that amount of time you have to work on something, chances are you’ll just get it done faster.

Third, you’ll be happier. And happy is very client-attractive.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Don’t wait until vacation to hit that OFF button. Put some OFF time into every day and/or every week.
  • Use a transition ritual – don’t just stop working and force yourself to stop thinking about work. Use a ritual that you do every night to signal to your mind and body that you are done. Try turning the computer off, making a to-do list of what needs to get done tomorrow and setting an intention for the next day.
  • Decide what will be your OFF time in the next 7 days. Now really practice letting yourself be OFF. No conversations, no reading, no talking about business.
  • Sometimes the best way to practice hitting the OFF button is to plan something that forces your mind to be off at a specified time. How about taking a class? Or planning a dinner with your best friend (where you can’t talk about business of course)?
  • For those of you that are having trouble really turning off – you might want to start developing the skill of letting go. Yoga and meditation are great practices for this.

However you do it – pressing the OFF button is so important. Just make sure you don’t wait until vacation to do so. Enjoy.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. What are your favorite ways to be OFF?

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