There’s something hard to learn when you’re your own boss: the art of taking a rest. When you love your work, you can quickly lose track on time. And if you do that, odds are you’ll end up overworked. The tragedy is that you start hating something you love. Working from home, or from your own office can be challenging. If you’re the one setting your own rules, things can spiral, and you might end up working 24/7 easily. So, be smart when you’re your own boss and learn how to rest. It’s not an easy task, and it might be challenging if you have workaholic tendencies as I do. Taking one more project, working some more hours can sound fantastic when you’re calling the shots. But, if you don’t rest, your health will weaken.
In Japan, they have a word for people who work themselves to death: 「過労死」karoushi. Most cases are people working for big companies who work too many hours. So much so, that their health weakens to the point of death. Others, end up in a dark spiral and end up suiciding. Karoshi isn’t a joke at all, and entrepreneurs can easily overwork without even noticing they’re doing it!
There’re signs you might be overworking yourself to the point of exhaustion:
- You lose track of time and have no idea how many hours you worked in a day. If you love your work, then it’s easy to end up doing this. However, as the time goes by, you might enter into a dark circle of doom. The worked you loved becomes tedious. You were happy, but now you’re moody at best. Plus, you might become a horror to your loved ones. If you’re moody all day, working long hours, and never say hello even if you’re at home, I can tell you that they’re getting bad vibes from you. Plus, you might be worrying them a lot.
- You either gain weight or lose it. The change has to be huge. If your anxiety levels make you get snacks all day long, odds are that you’ll end up with a different size. If you get bigger, or too slim, you might not like the person you see in the mirror. Then, your mood will get cranky, moody, and you might end up working with disdain. And very probable: you’ll hate everything you do. From your work to your appearance.
- Your only topic of conversation is work, and not in a cheerful way. If you do have some conversations with someone, you’ll probably end talking about work. This is normal if you spend hours no end working. If you use all your time at work, you won’t have any other topics to talk about. This will make you even moodier because everything will look the same.
- All days become Mondays. If you work even during the weekends, every day will look exactly the same. It’s living in Groundhog Day forever. Bill Murray’s character in the movie tried to kill himself several times. He was lucky since magic played its part and he woke up again to revive the same day forever. (Well, until he found love.)
- You’re too exhausted to do anything. If you lose track of time and have weak health, no wonder, you’ll be too exhausted. You might even get insomnia, stress, and tummy issues. By this time, it’s obvious that you need a rest. But sometimes is hard to stop when you’re the boss. I get it, but if you don’t you can end up in the most frightening stage: depression (or worse).
I’ve overworked myself for a period of time in the past. It went so badly that I got an allergy to the computer. My eyes would start crying every time I tried to work for my biggest client. They would do it in automatic. It was like a weird cold, that could never be cured. I had insomnia, was stressed to ridiculously high levels, and I didn’t find any difference between Monday and Sunday. All days were the same for me, and I could only talk about work. It was horrible. [When you arrive at the level of crying in front of the computer because your body doesn’t want you to do that anymore, things are pretty bad.]
So, I finally stopped and took a very long rest. Don’t wait to arrive at this point. When you’re into the loop, it’s harder to take a rest. It’s also harder to be healthy again. And it’s harder to remember what your plans were before the loop of doom started. So, don’t overwork yourself and take rests. Your brain, your body, and your mood will thank you for that. Plus, your creativity levels will thrive.
If you work from home, if you’re an entrepreneur, if you’re your own boss, remember to take time for yourself. You should have one day off where you do nothing at all if that’s what you want. You should take some hours during the day and read a book (or stare at the stars).
Taking a rest means different things for different people. For example, starting to learn a new language as a game is something fun for me. But it could be a nightmare for someone else. The target is to have fun doing something different that isn’t related to work.
- Want to snore during all Saturday? Go ahead!
- What about binging Galactica or Star Trek from the beginning? Hey, why not?
- Or perhaps you prefer chilling out with some friends. When was the last time you did that?
- What about disconnecting from Social Media during all the weekend?
Think about things that make you feel happy and relaxed. Take rests and sleep. Let your brain have fresh air. And if you have overworking tendencies like I do, use technology to remember that you need to rest.
- Set up alarms so that you stop working at a certain hour might be a good idea. When the time is up, just stop working.
- Drink plenty of fluids and eat at the same time every day. Having an eating schedule helps your body be healthy too.
- If you work in front of the computer, wake up and take a walk every hour. Even if it’s to the kitchen to take some more water. Don’t spend hours no end in front of the computer like a statue!
- Put funny stuff on your desk so that your desk doesn’t feel like a work-only space. If you tend to spend many hours working in full concentration, reminding that there’s life out there is a good thing.
- And whatever you do for work, don’t take more than you can do in a day. Even if you think you can, even if you do can, you have a set of hours daily for work. The rest of the hours are to live not to work.
So, be smart, and take a rest. Stop that hand that wants to continue working and live. You’ll be happier, have lots more of creativity, and your business will thrive.