4 Steps to Taking Time off as a Digital Business Manager

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Do you struggle to take time off as a freelance Digital Business Manager?

When starting to work online or in your own business, it can be tricky to figure out how to take time off as no one implements any boundaries for you the way a 9-5 company normally does.

You may find yourself slipping into a routine of working every single day – through the weekends, through holidays – because when you’re working, you’re making money.

That direct correlation may become… too good to deny.

And whenever you find yourself thinking about taking some time off, you may question “What would I even do with time off?” or “Time off sounds super unproductive? I like my work – I love doing it – why should I take time away from it?” 

It also gets messier when you begin to attach your self-worth and sense of purpose solely to how much work you output which is easy to do.

When you’re in the habit of working all the time – there can be a lot of guilt and shame around the topic of taking time off.

But hopefully, this will be the start of a change for you – no more work on the weekends or in the evenings AT all.

Maybe not even opening your laptop on the weekends? 😉

If this is something you struggle with, here’s a step-by-step process of how to slowly learn to take proper time off as a digital business manager, or freelancer.

4 Steps to Taking Time off as a Digital Business Manager:

🤗 Step 1 – Acceptance

This is kind of a weird first step but it’s an important one – because acceptance and recognition of the importance of time off to recharge is what will force you to prioritize it and make it happen. 

Looking at what’s currently going on in your work-life balance – are you happy with the balance as it is?

A lot of freelancers fundamentally feel bad for asking about time off… and that’s really sad because time off is a normal thing to want.

It is not something you should feel bad asking for or taking for yourself. 

Everyone needs and deserves time off to relax, unwind, recharge – we are not machines and we are also not meant to work as much as we already do.

So the first step is being honest with yourself and listening to the self-talk happening when you consider taking a day off. 

Why Make Taking Time off a Priority for Yourself?

Here are 3 things to remind yourself of to help accept that you want to make this a priority:

1. I am someone beyond just work – Repeat this to yourself:

  • “I have many interests, I have people in my life I care about, and that’s worth exploring even if it’s not “productive” whatever that means.”
  • “My happiness, having fun, joy, spontaneity – those are all worthwhile pursuits. They are not wasted time.”

2. Nothing is truly urgent – If you really think about it, nothing is truly urgent or an emergency in most businesses.

Many business activities are not so critical to humanity that you need to check your emails on the weekend. 

Unless you’re a surgeon, obviously, and lives depend on you to work in the evenings or weekends.

So ask yourself: Will the business burn down REALLY – honestly – not catastrophically if you take a day or two off?

3. “On my death bed” – If we think about the top things people say they regret on their deathbeds – one of them was ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so much.’ 

At the end of our lives, what will be important to us? 

For many, what will be important is that they led a kind, thoughtful, happy life filled with little present moments and experiences.

And that has nothing to do with how much work you put out.

🧱 Step 2 – Create Your Boundaries

Boundaries are important because they are lines in the sand; they allow you to detach fully in a structured way. 

Work shouldn’t be endless and feel never-ending. There needs to be an off switch and boundaries are a great way to do that.

If you currently have clients or customers, make sure you establish those boundaries with them clearly and in written format. 

Give your clients at least a few months notice in advance if you plan on taking an extended vacation and make sure you make a clear plan for them of what will happen during your time off 

  • Will you do the work ahead of time? 
  • Will someone else?
  • Can you find someone to cover for you?

As a freelancer or digital business manager, you may worry a LOT about taking time off, and think, ‘What if my clients fire me or are so upset?’

The truth is, the only thing a client is thinking to themselves when you’re asking for time off is ‘what is going to change for me?’ or ‘How will this impact me?’

If you lay out a plan for what will happen during your time off and how you’re preparing ahead for it, chances are they’ll be like ‘ok, have fun!’

Choosing Boundaries as a Digital Business Manager

Pick 1 boundary – what boundary do you want to start with? 

  • Is it to take the weekends off? 
  • Is it to turn off your laptop and not check emails after 7 pm?
  • Is it to take 4 weeks of vacation a year? Write it down to take it seriously.

Slowly implement boundaries like these over a few weeks:

  • No laptop open past certain points – past 6 pm on weekdays and on weekends.
  • No work email on your phone
  • No doing any work – nor thinking about work on weekends
And here’s a tip – remove work triggers (basically anything that triggers you to go into work mode) during your time off.

Work triggers could be:

  • Your laptop being opened
  • Seeing you have unread emails
  • Seeing you have unread Slack or Voxer messages
  • Seeing business owners/competitors/people in your industry on social media

You don’t have to try all of these at once.

Take is slow, taking a full (real) day off can be hard if you have never done it before.

Think about what makes a good ideal day off for you.

If you could design a completely work-free day – what would that look like?

Remember not to pack it full of stuff.

Pick maximum 1, then 2 non-negotiables for your ideal time off.

Examples: 

  • A reallllllly slow, no pressure morning – almost too slow, listen to some music.
  • NO TO-DO LIST.
  • Sit at a cafe.
  • Enjoy some of your favorite food.

🎨 Step 3 – Pick an Easy, Non-Competitive Hobby To Pass Time With

Time off can be tricky if you don’t know how to spend that time.

If you’re someone really interesting and have a bunch of hobbies already, then this step is not necessary for you.

This step is for you if you’re like… ‘Hobbies? Uh, what are those?’

Having a hobby is helpful to properly take time off. 

Otherwise, you’d just sit there and twitch your fingers and then open your laptop and end up working.

A good indicator of a hobby is if something triggers ‘fun’ and ‘exciting’ inside of you – that inner child.

Some examples:

  • Reading –  reading and relaxing while you do it is something we have to learn how to do – it’s very easy to get distracted. So practice reading (with focus).
  • Paint by the numbers (It’s soothing – in our opinion)
  • Puzzles – when was the last time you enjoyed doing a puzzle?
  • Video games – There are ALL kinds of genres available these days – literally something for everyone, from home decor to your favorite sport.
  • Card games
  • Udemy – buy a course and learn something for fun. Think of something you’d love to learn and look up a course on Udemy or skillshare and try it out.
  • Cooking – trying new recipes is so rewarding and delicious.
  • Exercise, a sport, meditation – this is all-around just good for your whole body and mind.

🏞 Step 4 – Go Outside

  • Take a walk
  • Get caught up somewhere – it helps get some perspective on how much bigger life is than just work + your laptop when you leave your work environment
  • Sit at a café + pick a good book
  • Book an escape room
  • Relax + make food or order your favorite food

👥 Step 5 – Do Something With Somebody

  • Give someone special a call – a grandparent, a family member, your sibling, or a friend.
    Meet at a café
  • Have a movie night (popcorn and all the bells and whistles)
  • Play Dungeons and Dragons (or a game you enjoy playing)

You’ll soon realize – the world didn’t fall down while you took some time off. 

And it will get easier the more you do it.

Taking time off and getting a fresh perspective will give you the motivation to get back into your work. 

You could find yourself feeling more creative as well AND not working on the weekends could mean you are more excited to dive back into work again on Monday.

If you’re planning a day off in the coming month, let me know what you’re going to get up to on your day in the comments here. I’d love to know.

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Want ALL the juicy details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a digital business manager does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!

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Want ALL the juicy details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a digital business manager does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!