Early this morning I was reading during my devotional time and I was dozing off. I was so exhausted. So, I put my book down and hopped back into bed to catch a couple more hours of much needed rest (one of the many benefits of being self-employed.). Last night, my wife and I had dinner at the home of two dear friends in the industry and they were sharing how exhausted they were (I’m sure it didn’t do any of us any good staying up chatting past 1 in the morning. It was fun though). All of this reminded me of how important it is to take a rest day (some may call it a sabbath). Any spiritual or religious meaning aside, there are actually three very good reasons taking a rest day is important for your business.
- Rejuvenation. The most obvious is getting re-energized to do your work. If you’re like most full-time self-employed people, you “work” all the time. Even when you’re not working, you’re working (conversations about work on your date nights; emailing late at night in bed; etc.) All that work will take its toll. You need to rest just so you can have the energy to do the work you need to do. When you’re weak and tired, you make bad business decisions, you don’t have the energy to handle customer service properly, and you definitely won’t have the energy to give your clients all they deserve when you go out to shoot for them.
- Creativity. A rested mind is a more creative mind. You will be surprised how much more the creative juices will flow once you’re rested. (This blog post idea plus two others were borne out of the actual rest I took this morning.)
- Inspiration. It’s hard to stay connected to your work if it wears you out all the time. Taking a break from it will help keep you excited about it and inspired.
You Have Permission
Sometimes we creative professionals need permission to do something like take a rest day, or even <gasp> a vacation. Go ahead. Take it. You have permission. In fact, if you happen to be of a Judeo-Christian background, you not only have permission, it’s a commandment. I put it to my wife like this (which really helped her. She’s the kind of person who feels guilty if she takes a rest for herself). She calls me the other day asking if I thought it would be okay for her to take a sabbath. I told her, “Honey, that would be like our daughter asking if it’s okay to do the dishes. It’s in the top 5 of God’s top ten. You can take it. 🙂 .
How to Make it Happen
So here are some ideas to help you take that rest day.
- Choose a day where you can actually rest. Last year I blogged about how we like to take our sabbath on Monday. We’ve tried it on the default of Sunday, and by the time you finish with church, Costco, small group, and other Sunday activities, not the least of which dealing with two kids, you have done everything BUT rest. On Monday, the kids are at school, the house is quiet and we can chill.
- Set expectations with everyone concerned. Make sure your family knows and respects the day you set aside to rest. Make sure your clients and prospects know that you are “closed” on your rest day. You can do that with your voicemail greeting or an email auto-responder (although, personally, I’m not fond of the auto-responders). Don’t worry. They will call or email you back if they really want to hire you.
- Put it on your calendar. Block that day off just like you’d block any other important meeting. It should be sacred.
- Actually rest. When you take your rest day, REST. Sleep in. Go to a movie. Read a book. Get a tan. Take a walk or go jogging (I know that sounds like the opposite of resting, but it is rejuvenating and a rest from work). Don’t use your rest day to catch up on email, to blog, to work on your backlog. It’s not just a day to turn off the phone.
To be honest, lately I’ve been terrible at taking my rest days. It happens to everyone. You’ll be good at it for a while, then you’ll get a ton of work and legitimately have to go back into over-drive. That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it. As soon as you can, course-correct and get back on track. In the end, you, your family, and your clients will all benefit.