Every small business owner can relate … Working 24/7 for extended periods of time leaves you feeling tired and stressed. That’s how I felt on the morning of Friday, May 6th. I was sitting in front of my computer screen, overwhelmed by my to-do list. For those of you who know me well, this is not like me! I love my work and I’m typically a high-energy person. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just buckle down and get to work? All of a sudden, I realized how burnt out I felt. I haven’t had a holiday since I started my business five years ago. Sure, I’d taken the odd day or two off but nothing substantial and when I did take a break, work was always on the back of my mind. What I really needed was a total escape from my business. So how did I respond? I picked up the phone and booked myself a flight to the Bahamas (leaving Mothers’ Day and returning one week later). That night when my husband arrived home from work, I told him and my teenage sons I was going on a mini vacation for one week by myself. After their initial shock and my sons’ best efforts to try and make me feel guilty (“Don’t you want to spend Mothers’ Day with us?”), they realized I was long overdue for a break. Suddenly, I felt energetic again. I cleared my calendar for the following week, miraculously completed a number of work related tasks, and packed my bags before heading to the airport on the Sunday morning. I can’t even describe the feeling of joy I experienced when I walked to the beach. I started to cry “happy” tears when my feet hit the sand and I looked out over the vast ocean in front of me. No agenda and no one else to care for - just myself for 7 luxurious days. It was heavenly! I’m an avid scuba diver so I indulged myself with 6 dives, walked the length of our beach several times, read a long novel, ate when I wanted, and slept in every morning. Now I will admit to one thing: I did check my emails at least twice a day and responded to some customer inquiries. I also tweeted, posted updates on my Facebook site and wrote 2 blog posts. But all in all, I am still really pleased with myself for walking away from work to the extent I did. Sure there were a few orders that didn’t get out as quickly as they would have if I had been at home (my husband and kids did their best to pack the online orders and wholesale orders) but the business didn’t collapse in my absence. It was a great lesson for me as a business owner. I need to take breaks and, when I do, I’ll work more efficiently upon my return. Have you been working non-stop for extended periods of time? When you’re feeling worn out, what options for escape do you have available to you?
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