Have you ever met someone who impressed you with the amount of freedom they had? They played golf in the middle of the week. They planned weekday lunches with friends that lasted longer than an hour. They scheduled themselves a doctor, massage, or hair appointment any time, any day, without much thought about their office hours at all.
And that’s when you knew. You knew that these people had it made. They must have hit the job or financial jackpot to have that kind of freedom, right?!
And a dream grew inside of you that you would be like them one day. Here’s the secret in a nutshell…they didn’t just have the time; they made the time.
Who’s the Boss?
Being your own boss allows you to run your life however you want. As a female entrepreneur, you can enjoy that lunch break with friends without rushing to clock back in at work at a specific time. You can take that first available doctor’s appointment without worrying about how it will impact your work day.
You have realized that time, like currency, is valuable. Like any valuable object, we have to protect it and appreciate it.
Who’s the boss of you? You’re the boss!
Okay, boss babe, here’s how to make that free time and enjoy it when you do.
Change Your Perspective on Being Busy
Somewhere in history, “the busier, the better” became ingrained in us. We treat busy as if it’s a proud badge of honor. We must tell people how exhaustedly busy we are so that everyone knows (and we know) that We. Are. Important.
I challenge you to flip that perspective. Being a woman in business, your sense of worth should not be tied to the things on your calendar. Treat time as the hot commodity it is–the more you gain, the better.
Fight the urge to work eight-hour days just because it’s the status quo. Turn down additional opportunities if it jeopardizes your flexibility.
If you aren’t in the position yet to establish free time for yourself, promise yourself that you will recognize the moments when they come and give yourself time to come up for air. Even though you are a machine, machines need a breather…or they will break down on you.
On your busiest days, aim for alternating work and breaks at regular intervals–work an hour; rest 10-15 minutes.
You are one person with a lot of irons in the fire. Realistically, you can’t tackle everything it takes to start, grow, and sustain a business. Someone or something has to take on the busy work for you so that you can focus on the future of your business. The key is knowing how and what to delegate.
Use technology to your advantage–it’s less expensive than hiring an employee for every set of needs. For instance, chat function software can help you manage your customer’s questions and improve their experiences on your site. An email service can help you market your business automatically. You don’t have to be tech-savvy to benefit from tech; a comprehensive entrepreneur service can teach you everything you need to know.
Invest in people to take over some tasks. For example, hire an outside accounting firm to help you maximize your profits and minimize your expenses.
Give Yourself Permission and Time
Free time isn’t a “nice to have.” It’s essential, so schedule it.
Downtime creates the mental flexibility required to build identity and purpose. There’s even a research initiative called Project: Time Off, documenting the personal, business, and economic benefits to the American economy that vacation time provides.
Want proof that free time is critical for your well-being and productivity and not an expendable luxury? Microsoft Japan recorded a 40% increase in productivity when it tested a four-day workweek with its employees.
Sometimes our “programming” makes us not great at taking breaks, so our best strategy for relaxing is to schedule it. That’s right, plan to sit down and watch your favorite show with your significant other (or furry friend) every night at 9 p.m. after tucking the kids in bed. Plan idle time with your child every day after school. Plan a walk with your neighbor every Monday at 10 a.m. Treat these commitments just as sacredly as you would any business commitment, and don’t flake out.
And when you do take those breaks, remind yourself that you’re taking care of your fundamental human needs. Turn off your phone and computer if you have to. Get out of the house. Do whatever it takes to physically and mentally disconnect from work.
I once heard someone say that the only people who will remember how many hours you put in at the office are you and your children. Let that sink in.
Whoever you spend your free time with, remind yourself to be present with them. Because what’s the meaning of life and working for yourself if your work completely absorbs you?
Run Your Business, or It Will Run You
Putting in eight and more hours a day of work has been ingrained in us. Lamenting our packed schedules has become a humble brag. It’s time for a shift.
We are capable and empowering women. We have what it takes to run our business without it consuming us. We deserve to enjoy the free time we want and need. Our bodies, loved ones, and companies will thank us for it.