The Importance Of Taking Time Off From Your Online Business (& How To Stop The Glorification Of Being Busy)
Here in the modern West, it is a societal norm to glorify being busy.
Many of us go so far as to measure our self-worth by how busy we are— we boast about our busyness and we give excuses and justifications for relaxing, taking a nap, reading a book, doing things purely for enjoyment (except watching TV… somehow the culture says this is OK).
It’s a real sickness, and one that I do not claim to be exempt from! I come from a family who glorifies being busy and I grew up thinking that busier people were somehow better people. Obviously now as an adult I realize that merely being busy has no relationship to morality whatsoever.
On the flip side, I’m certainly not promoting being lazy or not having drive and motivation to accomplish things in life.
I very much believe in productivity!
But here’s the thing - people are mistaking being busy for being productive, and these two are very different.
The Chaos & Danger Of Being Busy
Being busy often looks and feels chaotic.
If we exist in this state too often, we can develop chronic high cortisol and adrenaline levels which are detrimental to good health. Our blood pressure rises, our muscles tense up, our mind jolts from one thing to the next, we develop chronic anxiety and depression… and if you’re doing this every single day, living like this, calling it normal, then the real danger is that it feels really familiar and you probably won’t take notice until some life-altering event like a heart attack or disease diagnosis forces you to take a step back and reflect on how you’re living.
Stress is now thought to be the number one cause of all diseases. The problem is that most of us don’t know we’re stressed because it’s how we’re accustomed to feeling.
I didn’t realize how frantic my own mind was and how that caused tension in my body and quickness in my movements and speech until I started meditating and engaging in meditative activities like ASMR.
We are so familiar to ourselves that it can be difficult to realize we need to change.
Busyness as a badge of honor
“Surveys show that this addiction to busyness has played out in the decreased number of vacation days Americans now take each year. According to Project: Time Off, 55% of Americans did not use all their vacation days in 2015. A Skift surveyreports that 41% of Americans said they didn’t take a single vacation day during 2015.”
-Forbes, Here’s Why You Should Stop Boasting About Always Being Busy
So why are we addicted to chronically being busy?
Being chronically busy makes us feel important. It makes us feel more accomplished, or at the very least, makes us seem important and accomplished to others.
Maybe we were raised in a poverty situation and being busy makes us feel safe, like we’re doing all we possibly can to be secure.
Or perhaps we were raised by critical parents and our chronic busyness is an attempt to prevent judgment and criticism from others.
Or maybe we just learned to be this way because it’s praised in our culture and we want to be one of the praised ones. We want to be seen as good and right.
Breaking free from the busyness trap
It’s time that we re-evaluate what really brings us sincere joy and fulfillment.
Ask yourself how much of what you do in a day is because of societal shoulds.
What are two or three things you can remove from your day to free up more time to relax, take a walk, enjoy your family and friends, take care of yourself, delight in something, or work on a project that is more meaningful to you?
Break the habit of telling everyone how busy you are, because it’s only a transfer of stress and is helpful to no one, and deep down it’s probably you trying to prove yourself. When others tell you how busy and stressed they are, counter with something positive or interesting, not “Oh me too… I’ve been doing x, y, and z and still have blah blah to do tonight…”
Distinguishing between being busy and being productive
If you’re planning to run your own online business, or you already do, it’s crucial that you understand this difference and focus on turning yourself into a productive person, not a busy one.
I accomplish a lot in my day, and it’s because I’ve learned how to be more effective with my time and how to stay focused. It’s taken me over a year to hone these skills; I used to just run around like a chicken with my head cut off, in a constant state of tension and stress, worried about getting All Of The Things done, making sure my clients were 110% pleased.
Now, I accomplish more by staying relaxed but focused.
Instead of working longer and harder, work smarter.
Instead of running yourself ragged, prioritize what’s important and schedule your days accordingly. Then, stick to that schedule (hot baths are allowed to be on this schedule, by the way).
Giving Yourself Permission To Take Time Off
It’s time to start working on new habits and routines to break this nasty cycle of being busy bodies who are always on.
Here are recommendations of things I find helpful in making me more productive and peaceful so that I can keep growing my online business(es) while living a balanced and healthy life:
Do not check social media or email upon waking. Have some kind of nourishing morning routine first.
Many of us wake up and (without even thinking) check social media or our email first thing. Noooo. Do not do this! And yes, as an online business owner, this is asking a lot… I know.
A lot can happen in our inbox overnight - new clients, paid invoices, inquiries from potential clients, random opportunities, customers needing technical support… and it is really difficult not to check in first thing in the morning. But, truly try not to check your phone until you’ve had some kind of morning routine, something nourishing to start your day - a hot cup of coffee enjoyed in silence, or a 15-minute meditation, a walk, reading a chapter, something.
You are the person responsible for taking care of yourself, and for your own mental health, please try to form the habit of not checking your phone upon waking. No email, no social media.
Limit social media in general, or delete it altogether.
I used to be into social media like Facebook and Instagram to the point of checking it many times each day. Nowadays, I’m just not as interested. I don’t have a personal Facebook account and I don’t engage with Instagram much either other than to share a photo once or twice each week. I don’t use the app to scroll aimlessly like I once did.
Mostly I find these to be tools of procrastination. Social media apps distract us from doing the important things, and psychologists say that they make us less happy as well.
You know yourself best, so if you cannot limit social media and stick to it, I recommend deleting or deactivating your accounts entirely. Especially if you’re trying to start and/or run an online business.
Try to find value in breaking away from the herd and learning to master yourself and use your time wisely. It is a finite resource, after all. We must learn to value our time as much as we will one day when it is almost all gone.
Go inspiration mining!
This is sooooo crucial for my spirit, my business, my relationships, everything!
Inspiration mining - doing what you need to do to feel inspired.
For me, this is spending time in the wilderness, making thing with my hands, watching interesting films, having engaging conversations, rockhounding on the coast... I find that because I spend so much of my time on a screen, in this flat 2-dimensional world, it’s really important that I go out into the real world and engage in activities that trigger my senses.
Follow your inspiration… think about what would really fill you up and get you charged. Keeping the inspiration coffers tended to is vital for productivity and fulfillment.
Get in tune with natural rhythms
If you’re spending a lot of time in the online business realm, then you’re spending a lot of time staring at a screen all day, sitting in a position that the human body didn’t evolve to sit in and definitely not for extended periods of time, and you might not be getting a lot of fresh air or sunshine.
Try to be more human - tap into the rhythms of the natural world for better health and performance.
Go to sleep with the moon and wake with the sun.
Keep the windows in your home open as often as possible.
Go for a walk outdoors every day. Walk through the woods or alongside water if at all possible.
Spend time with animals.
Talk face to face with other humans.
Take time to prepare and enjoy healthy meals.
Go for a swim.
Take breaks between work to stretch and move your body.
Drink lots of clean water and tea throughout the day.
Surround yourself with plants.
Take care of you! Taking care of yourself is the necessary first step to all other things like having a successful online business and being able to give back to others.
What do you think?
I want to hear your thoughts…
Are you chronically busy? Do you judge busy people as being better people? Do you measure your own self-worth by how busy you stay?
Maybe you were once caught in this trap but managed to escape it…
Talk to me in the comments below!
Hey there! I’m Tiffany ~ a Web Designer & SEO Specialist. Here on the blog I write about web design, SEO, and running an online business. I hope you’ll find some nuggets of knowledge and inspiration and that you’ll stop by again and again :)
More useful posts:
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org