One time when I was struggling with my work always seeping into my downtime, a wise fellow entrepreneur girlfriend gave me some sage advice.
She said if you’re trying to work and rest at the same time (like squeezing work in on vacation and not really shutting off or never taking a full weekend off), then you’ll get 50% of the results in your work time and 50% of the results in your downtime.
Until that moment, I always thought I was optimizing my productivity by sneaking work in whenever I had free space, even if that time was supposed to be downtime. I thought I was kind of a badass.
Her words were exactly the bucket of cold water I needed to awaken from my deluded obsession with doing something all the time. I realized for the first time that if I kept doing something during every waking hour, I would begin to see a diminishing rate of return on not only the hours I spent working, but also the hours I spent resting. I was going to get less than optimal results in both areas as long as I tried to do them both at the same time.
In the Northern hemisphere, summer is upon us and while this is a high energy, outward time in our calendar year, I find it’s the time that I most want to go light on my work schedule to give myself time to get out and play.
As much as winter feels like it has a slower energy, it’s also a time where I don’t mind having more on my plate work-wise because the weather tends to have us inside more.
Whether you find yourself in a place of peak energy in your business where you’re wanting to get out there and create, make connections, and step into higher visibility, or whether you, like me, find that you want to keep your summer work schedule sparse and flexible, I want to remind you of something:
Mother Nature takes breaks. She hunkers down all winter long. Flowers do not blossom all year. They have their time to bloom, and then they chill.
Your business is an extension of your creativity, which is an extension of your life force, which is an extension of your humanity, which is an extension of being an animal, which is an extension of being part of nature.
Nature has rhythms and cycles.
Everything in nature does not produce fruit all year round. Nope. There are distinct seasons and phases that allow the fruit to come when it comes.
Somehow we think that we are different than nature, despite the fact that we are not only connected to it, we ARE it.
When it comes to setting your business schedule this summer (or any season), I recommend that you take a minute to ask yourself the following questions:
1. What do I feel like doing and not doing in my business this time of year?
2. What are the minimum required things I need to do (or that need to get done) in order to keep my business running?
3. What tasks in my business energize me?
4. Which tasks in my business drain me?
5. Which tasks in my business lead to the kind of results that I want to see (revenue, new customers, audience growth, personal satisfaction, impact)?
6. Which tasks do not lead to the kind of results I want to see?
Let the answers to these questions guide you as you craft your business schedule for the summer. Could you go lighter on promotions? Could you take a week or two of planned downtime? Could you institute summer hours?
If you haven’t already, book a real summer vacation. Not one where you’re also squeezing work in between canoeing and roasting marshmallows. Like a no-computer, phone-left-inside, fully present vacation.
When we stop expecting ourselves to be in perpetual harvest, producing all the time, not only does what we produce have more depth and value, we simply feel better. We fully inhabit our lives and our bodies. We show up more fully. We breathe deeper. We remember what the point of all of this is in the first place.
When you’re working, work. When you’re playing, play. Give yourself permission to go all in, 100%, with whatever you’re doing. Honor the purpose of your work. Honor the purpose of your rest. Do them both with all you’ve got and get ready for life to get really good.
OVER TO YOU:
Do you feel like ramping up in the summer or chilling out? Do you struggle to take real time off? Why or why not? What are you going to do this summer to honor the season you’re in? Tell me in the comments!
P.S. Every day I’m hearing from someone who’s diving into Do Less for their summer read (sometimes for the second or third time!) If you haven’t read it yet, now is your time. The book gives you the ideal foundational understanding of how to optimize your productivity without burning out in concert with the cycles of nature and your body. Get your copy here (it’s on audio with bonus content, too!)