Alchemy Experiment: This is what happened when I stopped thinking about my start-up on the weekend
When I started Create Alchemy in 2016, I was already working a full-time job as a Program Manager, working on my second novel, and planning a wedding.
I've always embraced my Capricorn-isms, so taking on another—big!—project like Create Alchemy didn't phase me. I figured I'd figure it out as I went along.
Well, I did figure it out, sort of, but the habits I settled into weren't the healthiest OR the most productive. Juggling four different BIG things is not sustainable long term. With the wedding in August, I thought I'd be able to check that project off the list and have the last quarter of 2016 for really getting into a groove with Create Alchemy and the novel. My day job, of course, was a groove I had to maintain throughout if I wanted to be able to afford the other three!
So towards the end of 2016, as I was planning out what I wanted to accomplish in 2017, I realized that I really needed to separate my pursuits or my headspace would never be in the right place to effectively work on any of them.
And that's when I knew I had to experiment. To see what was going to work best for me and what was just a crap idea I found on Pinterest. Here's what happened when I completely stopped thinking about, working on, or even checking email for my start-up. Even though it was still in that critical start-up phase.
What happened when I stopped working on my start-up on the weekends
- Things stopped being painfully difficult.
- My work got better.
- I remembered what fun was.
- I rekindled the love I had for my first passions.
Taking a weekly weekend — the days don't matter — is the key to preventing burnout. Period.
When you're first starting out with a new project, especially one you hope to bring in income with, it's super easy to fall into the bad habit of working on it constantly. For me, I have a day job, too, plus a novel-writing hobby. When I tried to fit a new blog and business into an already stuffed life, I had to do it during lunch hours, evenings, and weekends.
It seemed like I never had a moment free—because I didn't.
I kept that pace up for an entire year. And it did get me where I am now—a place I feel good about! But it also left me feeling isolated from my life, and it pushed my novel aside for too long.
Things stopped being painfully difficult
When I put a hard stop on doing any "biz work" on the weekends, things that I'd been struggling with suddenly became so much easier.
- Writing blog posts
- Creating useful worksheets
- Creating videos
- Enjoying social media
All that became easier. For at least the previous 6 months, I'd been really struggling to meet my own deadlines, to write content that I felt good about, and to engage in meaningful ways. I was drained.
I'll be the first to admit that I was really surprised by HOW MUCH changed just by taking 2 days off. And I didn't really take them off off. I just devoted weekends to novel-writing and hanging out with my husband instead. I even stopped checking biz email!
My work got better
When I had weekends to refresh my brain from all the brainwork I was doing on Create Alchemy, my inspiration exploded. And with that, my work got so much better. My blog posts were better, my site got prettier, my letters to the Alchemists Guild were more packed full of good, useful, actionable information.
I feel good about the work I've been producing since I started taking weekends for myself. I think my readers do, too.
I remembered what fun is
For a pretty young gal (31 is young!) I was not having a whole lot of fun in my day to day life. I was working my normal 9-5, coming home to get content ready for Create Alchemy readers, and trying to fit in some things I enjoyed in the meantime. I used to really enjoy dinner out at a new place, exploring, walking around aimlessly in the city with Nate, watching Downton Abbey, hanging out in fandom, yoga, and writing fiction.
But I hadn't done any of that in ages.
I felt like I couldn't. I felt like, if there was a free moment, I had to use it to help the people I was helping with this blog. I love helping other people, and when I get comments or emails from ladies who tell me I've helped them, it makes my entire day.
But I also needed to help myself. And Nate, the outdoors, fandom, and writing are ways I do that. Without weekends, I didn't have any of them.
I rekindled the love I had for my passions
It's amazing how much more fun things are when you don't feel like you have too much on your plate. Like your work never really ends.
And it's even more amazing how much you still get done when you work 28% less than you did before.
We need breaks to work at our best. That's a fact.
When we get them, our brains get refreshed, and that gives us the headspace to daydream, brainstorm, and think idly about silly things. Those silly things, often, are related to our passion projects because our brains naturally gravitate towards thinking about them. Why wouldn't it? We love thinking of things we love.
So when you give your brain space to do that, you also give it permission to get excited.
And that's exactly what happened when I started taking weekends. I got excited again. I started thinking of my novel as something I couldn't wait to work on, instead of another project I needed to check off. I stopped feeling like I didn't have time to go out to eat with my husband—I had plenty of time!
The days you choose don't matter as long as you commit to taking a weekend every week.
It's a fresh new year (or if you're reading this later: a fresh new day, week, month, or quarter). Now's the time to schedule your weekends. Now's the time to commit to a new Ritual for refreshing yourself in order to save your work and your passion.
Will you take a weekend with me?