Image by caruba via Flickr
The nice thing about the Internet is that your business need never close–you can serve customers every minute of every day. The bad thing about the Internet is it gives us the idea that we shouldn’t ever personally shut down–we feel guilty going off the grid for even a few days. Today is Christmas and I am not going to be working (after I post this) and I won’t have any posts until January 5. (You’ll see some posts from some of our contributors, though.) Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to commit to yourself that you’ll get some rest.
Christmas might not be the day you’d pick to shut down your business. It’s one of my big religious holidays, but you might have a different religion or none at all. And if your business is a restaurant or a bakery, you better not be closed today.
So, stop thinking about whether today is the right day for you to shut down. Instead, commit to yourself that you will shut down at some point. Promise yourself that you’ll take that vacation (a real one, not one where you take a couple of meetings and empty your inbox every day).
I know, I know, it’s hard to take much time off when the economy is going to hell in a handbasket. (I’m not terribly certain how a handbasket makes going to hell any worse, but let’s just play along.) But how do you think that you’ll make it in a bad economy? Do you believe that you’ll “out-work” it? Just redouble your efforts?
It won’t work.
What you really need is a better approach than your competitors. You only have so many hours, so you can’t really out-work them. But you can do things that are closer to what your customers want. You can surprise your customers (in a good way). You can figure out what they need and do it better.
None of this requires more work from you, although hard work is always needed to some degree. What is does require is you being at your best, at your most creative, and at your top inventiveness. And you only get that by recharging—”sharpening the saw” as Stephen Covey would say.
So, stop being available 24 hours a day. Stop catching up on your e-mail every day of the year. Instead, find some time to think, to relax, to be yourself. Catch up with your family and friends.
After you do, when you come back to work, you might be more effective. Which is what you really need, especially when economic times are bad. Don’t let the feeling that you need to be doing something force you to waste your time with stressed-out unproductive labor. Instead, focus on what’s important in your life, trusting that you’ll figure out how to build your business, too.
And Merry Christmas or whatever your holiday is. See you next year.