By Kia Jarmon of MEPR Agency for 12th & Broad
So last week I took a week “off.” Well, kinda! I spent a week on a business retreat working on my business rather than just in my business. As an entrepreneur—and even as a 9-5’er—we spend a ton of time working on behalf of other people. The constant ding of the email, social media ping, and phone calls can create a challenge when you are brand building. I figure the constant distractions is the honest reason people scream ‘I’m busy’ over what they truly should be saying which is I’m being productive.
For a week, I spent time with my thoughts—that usually come a mile a second—allowing them to manifest versus the alternative of withering once I get distracted. I was able to use post-its, large white paper, white boards, and an assortment of markers to cascade my vision around the room. It was time for me to get back to my core and answer “why am I doing all of this for?” The this in the question refers to my mission for my business and its growth. Honestly, that answer escapes me from time to time because I am in the trenches so much and its important to let it lead you.
For the past few years I have worked with little to no break or vacation and honestly that leads to burnout. Additionally, it shows your clients or colleagues that you area overworked and under-productive. That overwork and lack of whatever balance you desire can create a negative impact on those who work with you. They realize you aren’t your best self. You may ask why wouldn’t people appreciate your commitment to them? Well the answer is simply complex but it is because you are showing a lack of discipline and care for yourself.
At the top of the year, I wrote a list of habits that I wanted to form. I had redefined what success meant for me and and these things needed to happen for me to be fulfilled. These included things like hair appointments, gym time, discovering a hobby, and planned vacations and taking time to work on my business.
So I did the latter and considered it my version of a Spring Break. It was an opportunity to work on all of the pieces of my business that can’t happen when I am working with clients.
I spent each day working under a different theme so that I could maintain focus. Monday was digging into our brand. The same Brand Mapping I conduct with clients, I worked on for my own business. Outlining why do people call, defining the characteristics of the most ideal client, listing the core competencies, and discovering what pain we solve.
Tuesday was all about processes. This was digging in to how we on and off-board clients and the steps that happens as we convert a prospect into a client. This day was also focused on cleaning up digital files for greater accessibility.
Wednesday was focused on marketing tools. I was able to update a new website—
which will roll out soon and begin work on some other marketing collateral.
Thursday was dedicated to human resources. I am hiring for a new position so I spent the day interviewing potential candidates.
Friday was for relaxing. I did conduct another interview but for the most part I was able to wind down for the weekend and get prepared for the new week.
Now I caution that very much like the end of the workday I didn’t get everything done, I only got a stopping point. But that was ok for me. I got started, I checked things off of my list, and I was able to work in areas that I usually never get a chance to work on. Additionally, I have a place to pick up next quarter when I take more time off. This break is now a part of my business culture.
So here are some tips to ensure the best for your (spring) break.
Pre-plan: I sent all clients an email prior to me being out so that I could tie up any loose ends they may have or projects we needed to get started before I stepped out. I shared with them why I needed the time and so many of them were appreciative that I could serve them better by just taking some time to think.
Be prepared to put out fires: In my correspondence with clients I sent them important information to connect with me aside from the office line and email. Good thing I did because there were a couple of mini fires that had to be put out at the start of the week. When you step away for any length of time you must have some flexibility in how available you will be so that you can still be of service.
Cut your brain completely off: Don’t just work and don’t give yourself some time to relax. Step away from the work and go to the gym, read a book/listen to a podcast, put your feet in the sand, or book a spa day. Your brain will thank you.
Now of course this is not your typical Spring Break but it can be rewarding and fun. And it’s imperative to always be defining why you do what you do.
Cheers to spending time on your brand (and not just in it)!