Is it ok to press pause on your business for a month?
This summer you might have heard business owners talking about taking big chunks of time off, taking August off, or even the entire summer.
When you work for yourself it can take over your life. You can’t turn off your work phone at 5pm on a Friday and walk away from your computer.
You worry whether your clients might be upset if you don’t respond on a weekend, and you live, sleep and breathe your business.
Being in the thick of it 24/7, 365 days a year can be exhausting, and if you’re burnt out, it’s not helping you or your clients.
In this podcast episode I’m exploring the whole ‘pressing pause’ topic, why we can find it hard, and what can happen if we do.
Listen in on the player link below or read the key points covered as a blog post.
Why I’m pressing pause for a month this summer
I’ve been self employed for 16 years and I started work when I was 14, waitressing, washing pots, working in supermarkets and call centres before training as a journalist.
So the last time I had a summer off was back in 1989 when I was 13.
The last three years I’ve been working on building an online business, learning about marketing, all kinds of tech platforms, building an audience and a community, alongside journalism.
During the pandemic my journalism work dropped, I didn’t have government support so I had to work really hard to keep my head above water.
I know it is a huge privilege to be able to take a month off, and I really want to stress that this isn’t something I’m taking for granted.
Why when you run a business you’re always ‘on.’
On every holiday since 2006, I’ve taken my phone and my laptop.
The thought of coming back to hundreds or even thousands of emails fills me with horror so I check my messages continuously.
I get that it’s not life or death if I don’t respond to a message straight away but I want to support my clients and be there for them.
At the same time, I know many of the people I work with and in my free community feel the same, they’re frazzled and need a break.
They work seven days a week, are always available and feel guilty or bad about saying no and letting people down.
Often I’ll find myself saying, ‘It’s important to rest/take time for yourself,’ because I truly care about their wellbeing.
So I feel it’s important for me to do as I say and not as I do.
The science behind pressing pause and the benefits it can bring
This may sound a bit woo but bear with me as there has been research into pressing pause, spending time outdoors and the impact it has.
Psychologists Stephen and Rachel Kaplan studied ‘Attention Restoration Theory,’ and the impact being in nature has on wellbeing.
They outline four ‘cognitive states’ on the way to restoration, clearer head, mental fatigue recovery, soft fascination or interest and reflection and restoration.
There are also four key components to this, being away, soft fascination, extent and compatibility.
Soft fascination as defined by Rebecca Daniel from Appalachian State University is, ‘When your attention is held by a less active or stimulating activity; such activities generally provide the opportunity to reflect and introspect.’
Hard fascination is, ‘when your attention is held by a highly stimulating activity; such activities generally do not provide the opportunity to reflect or introspect, since you are completely absorbed.’
Extent refers to the quality of the environment, ideally it’s a place where you feel relaxed and at ease.
Compatibility is about finding enjoyment in your environment.
Attention Restoration Theory has been used in research into areas including mental fatigue, stress recovery and ADHD.
I discovered this theory thanks to Claire from Claire Bradshaw Coaching and while I don’t have ADHD, stress and mental and physical fatigue are both things I’ve experienced.
Read the full article here: https://positivepsychology.com/attention-restoration-theory/
Rebecca Daniel’s thesis here
What are the emotions you feel when you press pause for the first time
At the moment, I’m feeling a mixture of guilt, excitement and nervousness. And also a bit indulgent.
I spoke to business owners in a Mastermind I’m in ahead of recording this episode for a bit of a brainstorm.
While I do feel guilty, it was a reminder that the hard work I’ve put into my business has meant I’ve been able to budget for the downtime by stepping things up in the run up to summer.
And it’s ok to feel nervous about stepping away from something that is a huge part of you and also to feel excited about the prospect of a month of down time.
Earlier this year I did a Be Bold Bootcamp course encouraging business owners to do the things they dreamt of doing, so this is me being bold.
Choosing the right time to press pause
If you’re listening and thinking, ‘I quite fancy doing that,’ then I am so excited for you and do come and tell me your plans on social media as I would LOVE to hear them.
When I made this decision, it was having heard a lot of debate from people I know, and also from listening to my community and their summer plans.
August felt like the right time for me – it was the most inclusive for my clients as they’re taking time off too.
So if you’re considering the same, look at the patterns in your business and those of your clients.
Do you have a quiet spell in the winter where you might be able to have space for a break?
It’s like the Taxi Driver analogy. You go to work on a Saturday night and it’s really busy and you’re running people around all night.
On a Wednesday night, you might only get one fare, so if you were thinking of taking Wednesday off, do it and don’t feel guilty.
Full transparency on my time off
My month off is from content production and free support. I will be doing a few calls for my paying clients.
I have a membership community where there are two lives calls a week, so these will take place for the first two weeks of August.
And I have a Mastermind group with two calls each month which I’ll be running.
My content production, so my podcast, blog, email newsletter and social media will be on pause, and I’m pressing pause on my free Facebook group.
If anyone is looking for free advice on how to raise the profile of their pet business, there is a library of around 200 hours of content there, plus blogs, guides, PDFs.
(You can access my free PDF library here)
What I’m doing on my month off
For the first weekend, I’m off to a festival with my best friend Vicky.
Then I’m going to an AirBnb with Patch in Devon for a week on my own.
The next step is to see another old friend Sharon who I went to school with in Torquay for five days.
Then I’m meeting up with Tommy and the kids in Robin Hood’s Bay for a week.
I’m planning lots of walks, reading, eating, drinking and laughing and hope to come back feeling refreshed and raring to go in September.
I’m tracking on the impact on my audience growth, and see how being ‘off’ impacts on website traffic, podcast downloads and social media and will report back!
Has this inspired you to press pause for a month? Come and chat to me on social media on the links below.
If you found this post helpful you might like How to get out your own way and put your pet business out there with Osmaan Sharif or Why every pet business should have a win folder.