This summer, I decided to take the month of July off from my business. I’m going to walk through exactly what my time off as an online business owner looked like, why I chose to do this, how I planned ahead for it, and how the time away actually went. Spoiler alert – it was so different than I imagined. I’m talking all about burnout, mental and physical fatigue, how to evaluate and change things in your life, and more!
Why I took time off from my online business
There is a much longer story that helps answer the question of why I took time off from my business as an online business owner but the short answer is burnout. I had grown my business considerably and had taken on too many client projects at once. In addition to that, most of these projects were not things I really loved or wanted to be doing.
I also struggled mentally to wrap my head around how I could serve my clients and my family well at the same time. I experienced mom guilt on a whole new level. I also did not manage my time as well as I could have because when I was in “work mode” I was mentally thinking through all of the things I needed to do at home for my family. When I was in “mom mode” I was constantly stressed and felt like I was behind and should be checked off work tasks.
I also started dropping the ball on things that I usually wouldn’t have done. I had so many things on my mind and was managing so many other people’s business needs that I lost track of things more often than I would like to admit. I was working in several different project management tools with these different clients and I was communicating with them on multiple platforms. It was a mental overload!
Finally, in April I decided a few things for myself and my business:
- I wanted to actually do projects that I really LOVED! I have been a designer for many years but was working as a creative services manager for many clients (basically doing all of the little tasks that they didn’t want to do or didn’t have time for.)
- I wanted to take a month off in the summer to spend with my daughter.
- I needed a business coach.
What I did with my time off
I had really big plans for my month off. And honestly, they included work. It sounds crazy to think about this but I was so burned out on the work that I had been doing that I wanted to take a month off of client work to basically just work on my own business - pivoting away from the creative service manager to Showit website designer.
As you can imagine, the beginning of my time off from my small business was a mess. I was constantly flipping back and forth between the feeling of wanting to unplug and relax completely to wanting to work on my business and have my new custom website built before the end of my time off.
It took me a while (almost 2 weeks) to really figure out how to balance this. The biggest blessing to me and my business during this whole time was Becky Hoschek. I joined her Momentum coaching program at the beginning of June and was working with her during my break to learn how to have a healthy mindset and relationship with my business as a mom.
My daily routine during my time off looked something like this:
- Quiet time/Read my Bible/Prayer Time
- Breakfast with Emmy
- Read my Bible or a book
- Cook Dinner
- Slow unwind for the evening
Some days, my husband would take Emmy on a date and I would have a few hours to myself for any creative work I wanted to do. I also had meetings with my coach, Becky once per week. Emmy and I spent a lot of time with family at lunch or at the pool and got to soak up the sweet time. These are things that filled my heart up and helped to breathe new life back into my tired and stressed heart.
How I planned for my time off as an online business
The first time I mentioned taking some time off, it was a long off wishful thought. But my husband reminded me that I actually can do that. Having total flexibility for my days and my business is why I started this in the first place.
The first thing I did when decided to take time away from my online business was to decide how long and around when I wanted to take this time. This decision was also paired with a major pivot in my business. I was going from working for other designers as a creative assistant to being the CEO of my own business and a website designer for other clients. This break and “fresh start” went perfectly together.
I notified all of my clients well in advance that I would be taking time off away from my business in the summer for rest and to spend time with my daughter. I also notified a few of them that I would be terminating our working relationship at this time because when I was discontinuing these services for my business.
I did not do any specific savings plan in preparation for taking a month off but I did trim out additional spending in my business and make all efforts to save what I could.
I strongly believe that clear communication with your clients and team are major keys to being able to successfully take time away from your business and feel good about it.
What worked well
One thing that worked really well was the time in the year that I chose. I was able to work through some launches with a few of my clients and then step away after all of my part was done. I was also home while my (at the time) 3 year old daughter was home for the summer.
I enjoyed being able to get up each day and not have many specific things we were tied to doing.
Another thing that worked well was that I was able to prioritizing taking care of myself during my time off. I spent quiet time with Jesus and went to the gym almost every morning before I did anything else. I ate well and drank a lot of water. I also went to bed at reasonable time so I was able to get up early.
My time away did exactly what I was hoping it would do for me. I regained a new perspective and desire for work. I gave myself space to dream about what I wanted my business to look like and think through my WHY and HOW in ways I never had time for before this.
What I learned and will do differently next time
I learned that 4 weeks in a row is too much for me. I would do much better with taking 1-2 weeks more often that all of that time at once. Next time, I will try that.
I really struggled to totally unplug and that ultimately contrubutied to the struggle between feeling behind at work and being present as a mom. I will do this differently from now on. I learned that it will be so much better for me to unplug from social media and work at the same time as much as possible to avoid some of those confilcing FOMO feelings.
I am very grateful that I was able to take any time off from my design business as a website designer and spend time with my daughter, work on fun creative projects, and take care of myself. I missed work while I was gone and missed my teams and clients. I was able to come back to work ready to start my new services and use my time better. I will continue to take time off in the future and I feel confident that each time, I will be better at it than the last.