Wow! What a summer. Since I left the corporate world 3 years ago my aim each year is only to work when it fits with my family and other commitments.  You may already know that I don’t do much during April as our small flock of sheep has lambs and I need to be on hand 24 hours a day. I also aim to have the school holidays off to spend with my lovely children.

Who wouldn’t want to spend time with these crazy kids?

As someone who has an interest in systems you would think that I’d be good at getting them right for myself first time, not so! The first couple of years my non working summers were a bit of a failure. The first year I just stopped work when the kids stopped school. Sounds nice but it was incredibly stressful as I hadn’t planned properly. I had no clients lined up, was doing no marketing and had no income during one of the most expensive periods of the year (more ice creams anyone?).

After returning to work in September I had to do a month of hard marketing to start getting some clients and by Christmas everything was back on track. With my corporate background I conducted a bit of a ‘lessons learnt’ meeting with myself and realised that I needed to have earned the income before the summer (obvious when you think about it!) rather than after and so I set my annual financial targets to take this into account.

The following summer it all looked good. I had earned enough to pay for ice creams before the kids broke up. I enjoyed a lovely holiday, did a small amount of work to keep things ticking over all good. Then my son had an accident and was in hospital for 3 weeks, wiping out September. I had earned the money I needed for August and September but was expecting to have some income in October (because I would have had the whole of September to find some lovely new clients). I didn’t think much about work to be honest but even once Toby was home, I wasn’t able to concentrate properly. I was tired and shaken and it took me a little while to get on track.

So this summer, I was determined to get it right. I worked really hard through the first part of the year, running a ‘Build your perfect website’ course which went well, working on new projects and signing up some new clients for September before the summer holidays started. And the result… I really and properly rested over the summer.

So much so that at the networking meeting I attended yesterday I couldn’t remember what I said for an introduction. I am inclined to work quite hard and really love what I do but I do think we need some proper down time. It took me over 2 weeks before my brain stopped clamouring for work related podcasts and was able to fritter away my time doing lovely things. There are lots of people I work with who say they want to work in their ‘time off’ because they love it so much but I don’t think it’s good for your brain to be ON all the time.  Brains that are ON a lot take longer to really shut down and it’s only when you give yourself that opportunity that you start to see how your perspective changes with some proper rest.

I realise that not everyone can just stop work for 6 weeks but we can all choose to switch OFF. We can all take 24 hours of totally disconnected time every month. What could you do to give yourself a bit of time to recharge?