Typically, the most common advice entrepreneurs receive is “Do not procrastinate. The time for success is now and if you want to be successful you cannot waste any time on activities not in line with your business or drive for success.”
It’s natural when starting out to take this advice to heart and to work 18 hours a day, seven days per week. You don't want to risk losing lucrative business opportunities due to procrastination, but the advice to never put things off can also be a success killer. Everyone needs time off the field. Short periods out of the game make you a better player.
1. You are human.
When you become a work obsessed, over scheduled person you are nothing short of a robot. These types of demands are passion-killers that lead you into exhaustion and frustration, and probably cost you 10 IQ points. When you allow yourself to take little breathers from the hustle and bustle, you become human again.
You and your assistant must intelligently collaborate for these breathers. When you consistently book yourself with one meeting after another you lose your inner life. Do not let your work become just another task you create for yourself. Get out of the mindset of blindly hitting the ball that is in front of you, saying “next, done, next, done, next.”
Pay attention to when you need to delay some things so you can have your mind and emotions right. Take a water break, sit out for a bit and observe what is happening in the game from the sidelines. Take time for exercise, friends, family and little trips. Your inbox will still be there when you return. Learn to balance pressures. It is not healthy to eat, think, drink and sleep business. It will impede your success.
2. Bird’s eye view.
You can only be so objective when you have your face pressed up against the mirror. While many think and dream but never act, entrepreneurs often are so focused on working hard they lose sight of the bigger picture of their business. You can get so busy being busy that you never take the time to think creatively about what you are doing or how to grow from where you are.
Taking some calculated time-outs from the game allows you to, by habit, stop doing things when you like it. In these times you become more productive by putting things off than by being diligent and punctual. When you stop working so deliberately on your daily business it gives you some space and perspective to notice things in your business you normally wouldn’t see, allowing you to strategize more effectively and successfully.
3. Time to refuel.
To maintain the stamina necessary for success, procrastinating now and again gives you time to recharge the “energy” tank. It is difficult to be at your best when you are burnt out from all the pressure you place on yourself to meet your goals. A "no procrastination" rule will throw you into burnout very quickly.
No good can come from your efforts when working yourself to the bone has the overwhelming impact of stress and exhaustion on your mind, body, and spirit. Allow yourself to stop working now and again so you can gather yourself up and refuel. These times out of the game relieve your emotional and mental fatigue, allowing you to recover. Once you have some recovery time you can get back into the game eager, ready and motivated.
4. Patience and fortitude.
Don’t rush your success. The early bird does not always get the worm. In entrepreneurship those who achieve sustaining success often are those who took the longer path up the mountain and endured much trial and error. It is similar to the story of the tortoise and the hare. As the tortoise, you can observe from a distance what works and what doesn’t so you can strategize appropriately. You can adopt the “observe-replicate-improve” strategy. If you are racing up the mountain like the hare, there will be many things missed that impede your long term success.
5. Work ON your business, not IN your business.
When you work yourself to death, operating more as robot than an innovator, you are working IN your business. When you allow yourself some space, rest and distance it allows you to work ON your business. Constantly working in your business is a waste of time, energy, money and effort. You may be successful in the short term, but once you stop working so does your business. This is not sustaining and makes you vulnerable to eventual failure and burnout. Intelligent entrepreneurs understand they have to work on their business intensely.
When you work on your business, much of the work you do is behind the scenes, allowing you to come to work late or in unpredictable times of the day. Some of you may never set foot in your office because you have done so much work behind the scenes with social media marketing, lobbying, networking, etc there is no need. As you allow yourself spaces of rest for observation it allows you to see the holes in your business plans, to delegate better, and to become more organized and successful. In this way, your physical presence isn’t necessary for the survival of your business. When you work on your business it allows you to entertain other opportunities, as you have leveraged your resources well.
Most entrepreneurs understand that long hours have their time and place but these types of hours are not sustainable for a person’s long-term success. Putting things off, going on vacations, and taking time for family and friends are as important to success as long hours. When you allow yourself to take some time off the field without fixating about schedules, where you need to be and what’s coming next, you get a moment to relax and enjoy.
In the long run you only become better, smarter and more creative after taking these necessary breaks. When you don’t take time off, you run yourself, your business and your personal life into the ground. That stress may make it hard for you to relax well into your future. Without taking time to breathe your brain gets used to functioning in the flight or fight response. That makes it more difficult, if not impossible, to switch over into the less stressed modes of calmness or peacefulness necessary for your overall success and well-being. For this reason, give yourself permission to procrastinate when necessary.
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This article also appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.