How to Disconnect and Take Time Off - My talk from Let's Conference

Photo: Sarah Vitel Photography

Photo: Sarah Vitel Photography

This past Sunday we hosted our 2nd annual Let’s Conference, our women’s conference in partnership with ATL Girl Gang here in Atlanta (full recap coming soon!). As I thought about what would I wanted to say to 200 professional women, many of them entrepreneurs, it didn’t take me long to decide on a topic. It seemed clear that I needed to discuss disconnecting.

It’s a topic I think about often. This culture of hustle and being always on needs to be shifted, and it’s a topic that is not talked about enough. With the high of our amazing event, I felt like I missed a couple of points I wanted to make. So what better reason to share my talk here, for those who were there and those who weren’t. So here we go!

How to Disconnect and Take Time Off

“Hi everyone! 

Okay, true story: when I told my husband I was going to talk about balance and being able to disconnect, he stared at me and then asked if I was also going to talk about my experience as an astronaut. I still have aways to go, but I think about this a lot and how it affects me and others.

First of all, we need to liberate ourselves from this notion that we can only be successful if we hustle all day and all night. It is not true. 

In the entrepreneur world, I see a lot of women leave a full-time job to start their own business, and almost all of them do it because they want more freedom and life-work balance. But then they immediately make their new job a lot more demanding and stressful than the last, and quickly lose control over their schedule again.

I blame social media for this a little. Although I love Instagram, it makes us feel like we need to be always on, but the truth is that the world won’t stop if you don’t post for a day or two. 

People will not stop doing business with you if you don’t respond to their comments on a holiday-- they will most likely be gone too and not even notice!

It’s up to us to log off and prioritize,

We need to stop doing ALL THE THINGS.

When we hustle all day and all night we will not be more successful. We will just burn out a lot faster.

So let’s not miss on much needed downtime and important moments because of that notion that we need to be always on. We need to enjoy our honeymoons, our families visits and girls trips or just, you know, get some sleep.

The good news is that there are more and more tools to help us with this. Gmail now lets you schedule your emails. Instagram has a reminder you can set, not to spend more than x amount of time on it.

I’m not going to say I’m good at this. I still need work, especially on being away from my phone. But since I started working for myself I have taken some important steps for me. I don’t travel for work, and I hardly ever work on nights or weekends, because of my young daughters. I have been taking Decembers off and slowing down for part of the summer too, even as a business of one. I am definitely missing some opportunities, but that’s okay.

I recently took a five month maternity leave. I was active on social media, but I wasn’t available for clients or projects. And guess what? When I came back, everyone was still here. 

I will share a few things I did to prepare for all that time off, in case it may help some of you: 

  • First I worked a little extra right before my leave. I usually teach 3 hour sessions, but I planned a two day course. I also my planned my social media posts and newsletters ahead.

  • I added a source of passive income, in my case, e-courses. I worked ahead and had two courses all set up to launch automatically while I was off the grid.

  • I hired help. I got a couple of people to cover for me on tasks that needed to be completed.

  • I set expectations. I came up with a plan and had a conversation with my clients to make sure they were comfortable with it (and they were).

  • I truly slowed down. I didn’t do anything in person for months. I posted on social slightly less, and was a lot slower to respond to messages for a while. 

  • I also had a detailed out of the office reply. It directed people to different places (including my e-courses), depending on what they were looking for, and let them know when I’d be available.

More importantly, I was with my baby for months. And I would choose seeing her grow over seeing my business grow faster any day. 

And it’s okay to grow slow. It’s okay to say no to things.  It’s not only okay, but it’s important.

There’s a lot we can do collective to help each other and respect each other’s time. 

We should stop pressuring ourselves and each other into working more. Instead we should share ideas to work smarter. 

Let’s not email people after their work hours. Let’s not reach out to ask questions or even enquire about work on the weekends. This is something I always think about: let’s not do social media posts that make them do or think about work on the weekends! We can do that on weekdays and leave weekends for fun stuff.

Let’s respect our own time and everyone else’s.

And yes, I do understand we are here talking about this on a Sunday, but we hope today is a treat for you, not work. And I don’t take it lightly that you decided to be here on a Sunday. So thank you. I value your time.”


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