Paper Cuts: Stop Forcing Yourself to Overwork and Start Taking Time Off

*photo by Marietta Leung, styling by Little Vintage Rentals

I know you've noticed that I'm around just a bit less these past few weeks. Actually, I've been so humbled and surprised by how many people have reached out to ask if everything was OK. Truth is, things are GREAT. So great, in fact, that I decided to take some time to enjoy the fantastic things happening in my life and not put pressure on myself to keep up with blogging and social media. For the last two weeks I've been focusing on my clients, working on launching a new line of invitations, celebrating the birth of my close cousin's first baby boy, studying for a big grad school midterm, and spending time with my husband while he was on vacation (and it was his birthday!).

Taking a temporary step back was rather eye-opening for me. I realized how much pressure we all put on ourselves - and indirectly on each other - to be CONSTANTLY working. It seems like there is this giant double standard. People feel like they need to post and share 24/7, and yet they talk constantly about the need for balance. On one hand, social media provides a fantastic community to be in touch with, and a great way to build business, but on the other hand, there's a fine line where it's almost as if we're boasting about how hard we're working, and how little time we have for anything else. In the same breath, we all talk about the importance/need for balance and time away. I get it, the struggle is REAL. But it's not unique for our industry. Working full-time ANYWHERE is a difficult thing to balance, and requires a lot of time, effort, dedication, and, most importantly, a deep understanding of what we value and want to get from our work. If growing your business is your #1 priority then go ahead and work 24/7, that's fine. But if your ultimate goal is to have balance, you need to work to allow yourself to actually take the time off that you want, and know what that means, as far as a trade-off, with your business.

Having worked full-time for companies, and having also worked for myself, there are is ONE BIG difference that I've noticed around the area of time off. First, when you work for a company your days are usually just as filled with work, just as busy, and just as overwhelming; but the company ALLOWS you a certain amount of time off. You take that time off, relish in that time off, tell all of your coworkers/clients/colleagues about your time off, and proudly put up your "out of office". What I've noticed with those of us who work for ourselves, is that our goal is often to have better work/life balance, but we don't ALLOW ourselves to take time off. Friends, it is OK to allow yourself to take time off. It's not something to be ashamed of, feel guilty about, or try to minimize. In fact, it is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT and we need to work to actually do it.

When I left my full-time job, one of my biggest goals was to have more control over my own work-life balance and to be able to take advantage of the important things that would happen on the home front. It's so funny to me because I think this is a goal for almost EVERYBODY who has a small business, and yet people don't seem to allow themselves to do it.

Two weeks ago when I saw a lot of personal things coming up, I had a choice. I could continue to keep the high pace of working 8am-5pm for my business, and fit all the personal stuff in on my "off" hours. Or I could scale back on posting, blogging, and side (unpaid) project, and essentially go down to a "part time" schedule for two weeks.

I chose the latter, and I loved it.

Things are calming down and I'm back to my usual full-time hours now, which means my usual schedule of posting, sharing, etc. will resume.

Anyway, I wanted to share a little of what's been on my mind over the last two weeks, and to advocate for all of you who share in my goal for more balance. Just do it. Don't apologize for it. Enjoy it. Do it. Do it. Do it.

Wednesdays here on the blog are all about sharing Paper Cuts, which is a behind-the-scenes, down to Earth business advice series. I hope you've enjoyed today's Paper Cuts topic, and look forward to having you back next time! To read past Paper Cut posts, click here.