Entrepreneurs: It’s Okay to Pause

Entrepreneurs Moving from Survive to Thrive Series

This post is all about staying productive and staying sane.

image copyright Vicky Wu

I’m seeing so many posts about all of these things you should be doing with this “free time” you have now that everyone is staying home.

I wonder what advice you’ve seen?

Write a book. Write a bunch of content. Revise your business plan. Record videos. Start a podcast.

You and I both know that being an entrepreneur is a hard job. Most work more than 40 hours a week, even during a quarantine.

Don’t let other people’s posts on social media put pressure on you. That’s just always good advice.

It’s okay to pause.

One thing I’ve learned over the years, including a lot of years working in the counseling industry – even though I was doing marketing, I still sat in on the same training and picked up some valuable information along the way – is that we humans are creatures of habit. Any time our normal daily routine varies too much, it causes stress. Blame it on our reptilian mammal brain.

Even if you have a job that seems like it varies from day to day, there are probably still a pattern to your daily activities, starting with getting up and getting out the door.

But things are different now. And that adds a level of stress to our daily lives, even if it’s subconscious.

Add to that economic uncertainty, some entrepreneurs have had their entire business and cash flow pause, we may be worried about getting sick or loved ones getting sick, we’re having trouble finding supplies when we go to the store and some parents are having to try homeschooling their kids for the first time ever! Each of these things adds a small piece of stress to us, and they can snowball into a big stress mess.

Then you see these posts from other entrepreneurs talking about all of the things you should be doing with your time, how you need to hustle even more, all of the things they’re doing. On a normal day those types of posts can be motivational, but for people who are feeling out of sorts already, it’s just some unnecessary subconscious pressure that you don’t need.

Sometimes the busy-ness is validation. I’m busy so I must be working hard and that looks good to the rest of the world. I’ll pass! I’d rather become more efficient and take a 4-hour project and learn how to do it in 30 minutes and then take off the other 3 1/2 hours – or better yet DELEGATE it, how many of our clients have us take over their marketing projects!

Most of my days I was already working from home, because I run my business out of my home office. So, on the surface, things haven’t seemed to really change much for me, although I do feel the changes with my own clients. Plus now my husband is working from home, and even though we used to both do that a few years ago, the layout of our home is different now, my office is an open loft, so just hearing him on his calls or walking around the house or starting the dishwasher which is right under where I sit, is a much different routine. And things like how I used to take myself to lunch once a week, and I’m not doing that right now.

I had already added some pauses to my day. I was listening to more music. I was taking my breaks out on the balcony enjoying the view of the golf course right behind us. Doing more yoga. Okay, saying I was going to do more yoga and having good intentions but not really doing MORE yoga.

And I had finally finished most of our unpacking from the move, which means my art supplies were organized, so I painted a couple of pictures.

Then my uncle passed away. He had a long fight with cancer, and lost his fight and gained his wings this week and is no longer in pain. As you can imagine I was, and am, heartbroken.

I’ve seen it through the funniest thing. You have to realize that I’m an organized person. I like everything to be in it’s place, and that place may actually be color coded or alphabetical or distributed by size. I don’t often misplace things. You could ask me where something in the house is right now, and I can likely tell you exactly. Want a can of tuna? Pantry, middle door, 2nd shelf, on the right, in front.

I try to drink plenty of water each day. I have a water filtration pitcher in my office and often keep it right on the desk to fill up. When I’m not up in my office, I have my water bottle. Sits right next to me on the couch or on the nightstand by the bed. In the space of one day I lost that bottle five times. A couple of those times it was right after I had gone to find it, then carried it off and sat it down somewhere else and forgot where it was, so it was a double lose. That’s when I realized how distracted I was despite my best efforts to keep working and keep my mind off how sad I was.

So I decided to pause.

I chose a mental health morning. It would have been a full day if I hadn’t had some pieces of work to get done for client deadlines. But I relaxed in bed longer than normal (I’m usually working by 7am if not before). And I decided to grab the painting supplies that I already had out and paint a picture for my uncle. So I painted some tulips.

I love doing art and this was a new technique, so it was a fun activity. Plus, not knowing right now if there will even be a traditional funeral since we’re all in quarantines, I figured there may not be anywhere to send flowers, so it was a way for me to keep some of that traditional ritual, at least in my own mind. Flowers and nature also help ground us and calm us, so it was a great activity.

Even after I was done painting, I kept at my morning mental health break. And I refused to feel guilty – which is what always seems to happen to us, right?

This pause is what I needed and when I needed it. You may need a pause as well.

And I’m giving you permission to take it.

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