Recently, I spent three wonderful days on the beach basking in the sun, playing in the waves, dipping my toes in the sand and… reading a book. It may not seem like a big deal, but believe it or not it’s been an entire year since I’ve sat down and read a book just for fun.
My life is surrounded by books, but unlike referencing nonfiction for work, I need a solid batch of time to devote to devouring a novel. And this is the first batch of time I’ve had in a year.
Suffice it to say, it’s no wonder I’ve been stressed out and barely keeping my brain in gear. As my author-trainer colleague Shelley Hitz said on Facebook the other day, not having downtime is “like trying to chop down a tree with a dull axe. It’s better to take a break and sharpen the axe than to just keep going.”
When I got back from the beach I felt rested, rejuvenated and ready to tackle my work week. My brain was buzzing with ideas and my hopes and dreams returned to the light. I stopped seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as an oncoming train and started seeing it as a glimmer of sunshine piercing the darkness with hope.
Downtime is extremely important. And as entrepreneurs and service providers, we often push ourselves – and allow our clients to push us – too far. For me, the idea of letting someone down is not something I can easily live with. Therefore it’s not uncommon for me to spend weeks working 18-hour work days just to keep my clients happy.
And you know what? Most of the time they have no idea what I go through for them and then I perceive that they’re not happy anyway because it’s impossible for me to meet their expectations. This makes me start to feel resentful and hate my job. When the fact is, if I take regular time to rest and have some downtime, those issues I think my clients feel are life and death actually aren’t. Everything’s in a better perspective and my clients are more open to my explanation of processes, timelines and how things should work.
When I’ve had proper downtime, I handle things differently. And that makes all the difference with my clients and customers.
Your turn to speak out…
What’s your favorite way to have downtime? Do you feel it’s important? Share your story in the comments below!