I used to avoid downtime like the plague. Now, I welcome it in big doses a couple of times a year and in smaller doses through out each week, because I’ve learned the value of it. I’ve learned that without it, I work myself to the bone, and in circles. And I’ve learned how to use it to propel my business forward in big ways.
Rest. If you just cringed, let me say, I feel ya, sister. But if you’re intentional about it, you can call it a goal, and therefore, by resting you are still achieving and being productive. You’ll be okay.
Rest is a big part of self-care and self-care is very different person to person. I feel the most rested when I’ve gone a good chunk of time not thinking about my business or photography. I find it difficult to suck that part out of my brain, so it’s helpful to replace it with something. That something should be an activity that you really love partaking in, or an entirely different subject you can sink your mind into by way of reading or workshops or what have you. Vacations tend to do the trick, but if your vacations are like mine, they’re few and far between. Writing is a therapeutic and creative outlet for me, so in the past I’ve taken the first couple months of the new year to delve into some personal blogging and creative writing projects – none of which have yet to see the light of day – but it’s been helpful for me to give my mind a break from work and revive some of my creative juices that stale over the course of a year.
The summer months are especially busy for us and it’s easy to go a whole month without coming up for air. Last year, my assistant, Melissa, and I took to kayaking. It’s about 15 minutes down the road, costs $10 and we spend about an hour on the water soaking up every ounce of vitamin D we can before we return to our computer-lit office caves.
Bottom line, do whatever floats your boat, but rest is a necessary human function. Embrace it.
Brainstorm + Set Goals. I can’t quite remember what my brainstorming game was like before Melissa, but I’m sure it paled in comparison to what it is now. Thinking about it, I would really love to dissect this further with her – what is it that makes our brainstorming game so on point. I will do the best I can on my own for our purposes now and have her correct me later if I’m off, ha! So, our brainstorm sessions are a lot of the times planned. Especially in the beginning of the year when we’re trying to figure out what direction we want to drive in. I think it’s really important to schedule time to brainstorm, especially in the busier months when our focuses tend to shift more to urgency than priority. And sometimes our brainstorm sessions are in the spare 20 minutes I have before an appointment and I’m feeling unfocused, anxious, like I’ve lost direction.
We usually start out by asking ourselves what we want. Now, here’s where it really helps to have a second person who knows you well (or who can ask you the appropriate questions to help you recognize what you want).
Me “What if we do this..” Melissa “I feel like you might hate every second of doing that.” Me “Yes, I would hate every second of doing that.” Melissa “Then you just shouldn’t do it. …What if you did this instead?” Your second person can keep you on track with making decisions that reflect your values, reinforce your strengths and expand you in some way that you’ve not yet explored. When we brainstorm we have no limitations, no fears or consequences, we go down any avenue that comes to us and if it’s a direction that isn’t leading where we want to go we simply turnaround and try the next flow of ideas. Once we’ve found a clear path to what we want – we start breaking it down into actionable steps and putting them in sequential order. When we’re through with this process we feel empowered, focused and excited to keep working.
You can absolutely do this process on your own, you might even prefer it that way, but if you do need help, a mentor is a good place to start. We can empathize to your specific values, strengths, wants and needs, keep you on track and prompt you when you get stuck.
Don’t work for the sake of working. Take a break, gain clarity and direction and move intentionally into the future!