Taking time off from your small business

Break-time walk

Break-time walk

We all need a break. We know that. Sometimes we let ourselves be tied to the mill.

In the early days when we started, we learned that businesses do not run themselves. It might have seemed that the more we worked, the more money we made, and the less we worked, the less money we made. So we might have got into the habit of working all hours of the day, six or seven days a week.

I have learned, and perhaps you have too, that working every hour God sends is not good for our health, and actually not good for our business because we become tired and jaded and less efficient. We may forget things and make mistakes. We have to go back and re-do tasks that should have been easy.

Most of us work to our own schedule. After all, it is our business so we can organize our own schedule. It is vital not only to manage our work time, but also our time off; our time to relax.

Actually it is important for everyone to have time off and not to work long hours for any period. When I worked for a large firm of accountants way back, there was a culture of getting in early and staying late. It was expected of everyone, whether they actually had anything to do while they sat at their desks. Latterly because of poor organization by my bosses I actually did not have enough to do and said so. Eventually I decided to leave the office when I had done my work and my contractual hours were fulfilled. I had much more satisfaction in the gym or at the cinema in the hours I was no longer wasting.

In one of those sorts of work cultures it is easy to be locked into a treadmill and be worn out and be far less effective. I was interested to read in Forbes an article advocating a four-day week for employees. Of course the employees would be expected to work longer hours as a price for getting an extra day off a week. However, both mentally and physically it seems to me the extra downtime could make a person much more effective at work when they were doing their four days on.

So it is with we who run our own businesses. Yes, we should be flexible in the way we run our affairs in order to suit our customers and clients. However I know that I work much better when I am making sure I do take time off, and that I make time for important family stuff. And as I have mentioned, when I am out for a walk, which is every day, I have my best ideas for my business and for my writing, because relaxing my mind makes those ideas pop into my head without any effort.

Four day weeks may not suit everyone. Sometimes I have a four-day working week. Sometimes I have a holiday and therefore a “no-day week”. Sometimes I just take an afternoon off. If our businesses are well-run and efficient we should all be able to do that. We are not slaves to our businesses or ourselves, because that would be no fun, and business should be fun, shouldn’t it?

Are you afraid to take time off? You shouldn’t be.


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