When I left my corporate job to become an entrepreneur, it seemed my to do list grew exponentially. Things I used to hand off to teammates or agencies had no where else to land, so on my list they stayed.
Each day I worked wholeheartedly to grow my fledgling business…and yet at the end of each day my list was somehow even longer than it had been that morning. I doubled down, determined that with more rigor, more stamina, and more productivity tools, I could get it all accomplished. I worked longer and harder and faster.
I took everything nonessential out of my schedule. I cancelled lunches. And coffee dates. And nights out with friends.
And do you know what happened? My list still grew.
There was always one more idea to explore, one more marketing plan to try, one more client to call back. Truthfully, executing on just the current business was a full time job, but when I tried to make time to design the future too, taking e-courses, attending conferences, listening to podcasts and reading books, I needed every waking hour.
Every moment I had was being used in service to my business. And it had stopped being fun.
I reached a breaking point when a group of friends posted pictures from a girls weekend they’d taken and I realized it would never have even occurred to them to invite me because they knew I’d say no.
All work and no play does not make us successful. It makes us tired.
Sometimes you need to call a time out and get yourself back into rhythm.
A good week includes both work AND play. We know this at our core but we ignore it in our insatiable quest for productivity. We can’t play! We have too much to do. And besides, playtime is for children. We’re grownups.
We’re also wrong. Playtime is not just for children. It’s for all of us. It’s how we recharge. And don’t try to fool yourself by categorizing “easy work” as play, either.
– Reading a nonfiction book on marketing is not the same as reading a novel or a magazine.
– Listening to a podcast on hiring a VA is not the same as blaring U2 on Pandora.
– Scheduling Instagram posts for your brand is not the same as pinning images of your dream kitchen.
Playtime doesn’t carry the expectations of an outcome. It just leaves you refreshed.
And it matters because it’s a source of energy and creativity, both of which entrepreneurs need in spades.
So please, if you notice yourself falling into in a pattern of too much work and not enough play, don’t ignore it. Do something about it. Luckily, getting back on track is easier than you may think.
Just ask yourself what you want to do, not what you need to do. And then go do it!
When I started making time for what I wanted and not just what I needed, my rhythm returned. I had more to give to my work. My ideas were more creative. My thoughts were more clear. My decisions were more sure. Play became a force multiplier that I learned how to leverage and you can too. This is one lesson that’s actually fun to learn!
C’mon. Let’s play.
Note: This post originally appeared on Best Kept Self, where I am a featured contributor.