How to slow down without stopping

As the world opens up, real breaks become possible. To take advantage and give yourself a rest, you must rejig your priorities to stay productive.

Traditionally summer is the slow down time, yet that rhythm has been interrupted and the summer ‘rest’ has been delayed for many. With everything that’s gone on in the world, we are seeing that only now, as the world opens up again little by little, those holidays or breaks that we’ve been putting off are starting to come into play.

Stay productive in the face of all the demands!

If you’ve been doing less in the last few months, because you’ve been thinking differently, shifting your business efforts, creating new products or simply working out how to fit in new priorities you are not alone. The chances are you’ve worked harder than ever, and through the summer. And mostly, we are all longing for a break, a holiday, and indeed some normalcy. We want to slow down before we speed back up and hurtle towards Christmas (yes we said that!).

Being effective is vital to your productivity, whatever you are up to. We work with Speakers Authors and Coaches and because there is no ‘regular’ pattern to their working, productivity can be erratic. Contrary to popular belief, creativity actually flourishes in the safety and comfort of rhythms, habits and regular routines. So in the face of slowing down, taking a break and organising to get busy again, we thought we’d share some tips that could support you to stay productive, even in the face of you being away, or not working in your business as much as you usually do.

There are a few types of tasks that you could be focusing on that help you with this. They will help you manage your time more effectively & be productive, making for less hours and more fun or focus elsewhere.

Staying focused AND taking time out can war with each other.

Creating a work-life / work-holiday balance is always tricky. We want to encourage you to ensure you have some of that down time as well as keeping your business going. Under normal circumstances, 30% of all entrepreneurs are likely NOT to take any time off over the summer and given the nature of most people being a bit ‘flat out’ at this time — it’s so vital that you do build in some time for you.

To help you prioritise your actions you need to get clear on what you want to do over the next few week AND build in time for a break.

Firstly, PLAN in a STOP so you can slow down.

Here are a few questions and suggestion on how to have a guilt free and productive break.

Whether you have children or not, it’s likely that you may need to reprioritise your activities if you are heading off for a break. You may find that your focus moves from the medium and longer term to ensuring that you’re ‘covered’ for a few days as you take some time off.

Ironically, once you’ve sorted out the ‘business as usual stuff — the day to day tasks, the scheduling of tasks, posts and set your out of office to ‘go’. You may find that just the thought of going away sharpens your focus. You’ll likely instantly also free up some energy to work on those special, medium and longer term projects!

That means making that online course you’ve been meaning to, or developing a whole new set of content or marketing plans so that you can head back into the more busy time having all of that done. For others it might be that you can do some of the research that eludes us in the busier times.

The trick is to begin to understand what you want to put into your day. For those of you with children, it’s likely that you are looking forward to settling back into a routine where you have more time because they are back into school mode, so you might decide to put new time curfews in place — only working 4 hours in a day rather than all of it. Or you might decide that for you that is 2 days working, not 5, paring it down to what is necessary. These are all ways of slowing down, but not stopping.

And for those of you who do not have young children or demands on your time of that kind, you might still want to look at reducing your ‘regular working’ hours/days, to accommodate the creation of new products and services, and the marketing that goes with it. The ‘I’m taking a holiday’ mentality will support you in doing things differently.

We have a Daily Action Planner that we use to help our clients decide how to use their time. The elements could help you organise yourself so you can feel ‘on top’ of all that you need to do. Using something like this can help you feel less overwhelmed and still allow you to feel like you can give yourself that mini-holiday you so need.

It works throughout the year, but during ‘reduced working hours’ it can really help you stay focused on only doing the things that support you to put the balance in. Here are some key elements of it to help you stay disciplined and focused:

  • Scheduling appointments in your diary
  • Blocking out the non working time
  • Prioritising only 2 or 3 things to get done in a day

We also suggest having a small list of actions that you need to complete over a week, rather than a day as a way to allow yourself the down time you want. The feel is less pressured, and allows you to still feel productive, but with that rest-work balance back in your world.

3 Areas to focus on whilst working in ‘down-time’.

  1. Your Promotions:

Ensure that you think about what promotions you have coming up Sept-Dec and think about what you can set up now that allows you to easily fill / promote those — who can you reach out to now, what can you write or create now that you can send out once the summer is done for example. This is also about you creating new promotions, so what new products / services / online projects are ripe for making.

2. Your Prospects & Partner Connection list is the 2nd of these.

The holiday or the time leading up to it can be a great time to at least set some of your connections and contact in motion, being mindful that not everyone else is away. Preparing the communications and lists of connections that you want to reach out to once the break is over is also good. For some of you, it’s a perfect time to research and identify good new partnerships for you that you can reach out to.

3. Your proposals and promises

Again, these can be preparation or indeed things that you do that ensure your continued income even though you are taking a holiday. By prioritising these, you might well clear a lot of ‘little things’ off your list that mean you energetically support yourself to be in full power when the autumn comes around.

Taking a break can be a great creative time, and it’s more than possible to keep your business ‘ticking over’ whilst you spend your time with your loved ones and get some well deserved replenishing rest too.

As with all things, it’s about deciding what you will do, when you will do it, and sometimes where you will do it. Remembering to take time out, and stopping, or at least slowing down can be just the thing you need to ensure you make the most of these upcoming last 4 months of this crazy year we are all experiencing.

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