How Downtime Can Make You A Stronger Leader

by | Oct 20, 2021 | Small Business | 0 comments

Owning and running your business can certainly be exhilarating. You get to be your boss. You get to implement your ideas as you see fit. You set your schedule. The list of “being your own boss” benefits is long. There are some downsides to be aware of, too, however. For instance, you are probably hesitant to delegate tasks as you think you’re the only one capable of doing them—sound familiar? Or, you spend twenty out of twenty-four hours a day working or thinking about work. Or, that whole work/life balance thing goes out the window.

When you own your own business, often you find yourself at the mercy of that business, but this shouldn’t be the case. What kind of life do you have if you are tied only to your job? This is why downtime is so critical, especially for small business owners. And we are not necessarily talking about full-on vacations, though those are important from time to time. Simple downtime counts. Going for a walk in the middle of the day and disconnecting on the weekend, taking even a night off, and spending time just vegging on the couch without thinking incessantly about work. These are all important not only for your mental well-being but also, belief or not, for your business.

Taking Time Off Has Positive Effects

So what exactly is the benefit of engaging in a little downtime? Consider the following:

– US workers only tend to take less than twenty days off per year

– Over 60% usually leave their vacation time unused in a given year

– America is thought of as having an “always-on” culture

– A recent poll showed that 40% of business owners work nearly sixty hours per week

As regards mental and physical health, these numbers are not the most promising. Taking some time off and calling it downtime is hugely important. You are a business owner, yes, but you are also a human being who needs to breathe and relax once in a while.

5 Reasons to Engage in Downtime

1) Downtime allows you to be more creative

Business is nothing if not a creative endeavor. Think about it, creativity is at the heart of what you do: problem-solving, communicating, pitching, presenting. It is all in some way centered on that creative impulse. If you are working working working, that creativity gene gets stifled. Separating yourself from the office brings with it some clarity. And in the space carved out by this clarity, creativity can flow.

2) Downtime brings you back to reality

In other words, taking some time away helps recenter you and reminds you of who you fundamentally are. Yes, you may be proud of your small business; you may be invested in its growth and success. And this is great. But that business is not you, not really. You have many facets, interests, ideas, connections. You name it. Sometimes these become hidden from you when you’re single-mindedly focused on work. It’s time to rediscover these parts of you.

3) Downtime prevents burnout

It all circles back around to relaxing and working on that mental/emotional/physical health. If all you do is work at your business, then you are, as they say, burning the candle at both ends, which inevitably will lead to burnout. And a bad case of burnout is not doing anything for the health of your business. Businesses last longer when the business owners take care of themselves and consequently avoid feelings of burnout.

4) Downtime gives you fresh perspectives

While downtime can get those creative juices flowing again, it can also help you assess your business more practically. If you are constantly “in the trenches,” never seeing the light of day, you tend to lose perspective. But when taking time away and stepping back, you gain more precise insights regarding where things stand and how they operate. From how you handle customer service issues to ideas for a new marketing campaign, things will come to you quickly when you have that downtime to refresh and refuel.

5) Downtime can be encouraging to your team

If you are a workaholic, then some team members may feel guilty about stepping away and taking time off themselves. You lead by example, right? Show them that stepping away can be good, it can be healthy, and it can be necessary.

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