Whether it’s a planned vacation or sudden sickness, if we don’t plan for time off, it can be challenging to get back on track when we return to work, especially as entrepreneurs. Therefore, some entrepreneurs never take time off. But there’s a way around it! Discover 5 ways to not let “time off” sink you.

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  • Plan ahead and have your content ready and scheduled a few weeks or months in advance.
  • When planning time off, allow for wiggle room so that you give yourself time to get back into your routine – Don’t overload your to do list on the first day back!
  • Set a ‘jump back in date’ and stick to it to avoid compounding work. This counts for your self-care and workout routine as well.
  • Work on your mindset as many of the struggles related to getting back into work after “time off” is related to mindset.
  • Do not feel guilty for taking time off – it’s essential to maintain a healthy balance and you’ll be more productive if you allow time for self-care.

Resources Mentioned

Food Photography by Ikram Ali

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Explore Megan’s recommended books and resources at eatblogtalk.com/books.


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EBT538 – 5 Ways to Not Let “Time Off” Sink You

Intro  00:01

Hey food bloggers. Thank you so much for joining me in this mindset and self-care focused episode here on Eat Blog Talk. One of the reasons I started a blog talk was to hold a space to talk about the importance of mindset and self-care. Being an entrepreneur can be a lot. If we are not taking care of ourselves, then getting actionable information about SEO Pinterest or whatever else is all moot. I will meet you back here every Wednesday to discuss various mindset and self-care topics. So you have the energy and space to tackle the rest.

Sponsor (Ikram Ali) 00:37

We all know what it’s like to be completely swamped in our business from juggling a dozen or so hats. And sometimes you just need a little help. If you’re ready to elevate your blog with stunning imagery, but lack the time I got you covered. I’m Ikram Ali, the photographer behind Ikram Ali Photography. I use my background in Pastry Arts and cake decorating, blending my culinary expertise and my photography skills to create premium still images and engaging short form videos for food bloggers and brands alike. If you’re ready to start updating old content, or just needing to get food photography checked off your list, I’m here to help you can go to the services page on IkramAliPhotography.com That’s spelt, Ikram, I-K-R-A-M, Ali, A-L-I photography.com. I’m excited about the prospect of working together. Bye friends.

Megan Porta  01:32

Hey there, thank you so much for tuning in today. If you are enjoying the mindset and self care episodes, I would love to hear from you let me know if you’re liking them. Reach out and tell me what you think. And thank you in advance. Today we are going to talk about five ways to not let time off sink you. I personally have quite the history with allowing time off to completely derail me from my goals. And anything else I should or want to be doing. This is a topic I have been thinking about a lot recently, because I have made huge strides with this. Finally, it has taken me a very long time to get to a point where I can say that. Naturally, when I noticed improvements that have been made in any area, I start looking at the data. And just what happened historically, because I want to know what exactly I did to make the improvements and then repeat that. Some of it is just time and a bit of maturity, probably. I’m of that age where I can say I’m probably on the mature side, sometimes not always. But sometimes it is definitely more than that. 

Megan Porta  02:46

With this topic, there are some tactical things I think I’ve learned. And I’d love to share those with you in case they can help you as well. I’m definitely not perfect in this area. I am not perfect in any area, I hope I never come across as sounding that way. I’m just a flawed human over here sharing my experiences with you awesome people in hopes that you can take away some valuable nuggets. But I am growing and I’m always doing my very best to improve constantly. On this topic, let’s first talk about what time off means. Time off refers to any time you take off from regularly scheduled activities. That can be you taking vacation and setting work down for a period of time. It can be sickness and stepping back from work, and any self care or workout routines that you have going on. It can be having a really busy week of work and stepping back from family obligations or something else. So time off doesn’t necessarily mean time off work. It’s really any disruption in regularly scheduled programming. Let’s rewind to a previous version of Megan. Megan, that 34.0 or somewhere around there looked like this. I would get into a groove with working out and then I take a vacation. And when I returned home, I felt like everything was lost. All the progress that I’d made beforehand was gone. I ate like a pig for a week on vacation. I haven’t worked out in days. What’s the point? So I would stop working out leading to massive guilt and probably over eating, eating garbage, feeling lazy losing confidence and blah, blah, blah. All that icky stuff compounded. 

Megan Porta  04:38

There were a couple years before and after our second son Sammy joined our family. When I just did not exercise at all. I was working full time at that point. We were up to our necks in medical appointments and surgeries for our oldest son. I just started my blog life was so busy exercising was not on my radar even though I probably knew I should be doing it, and that it would help me get through that busy period of time. There was this one winter morning, I remember I just decided that I was going to go for a run, even though I hadn’t worked out in years. My workout shoes were dusty, they were probably a million years old. And did I mention it was winter outside. But for some reason, I thought it was a really great idea to go for a run. So I put on my gross old crusty shoes, and I bundled up, and I got one block from our home, before stepping on a patch of ice and falling on my butt. I took that as a sign that maybe I should just stop, and I should not be exercising. I told myself, that was it. It’s not meant for me, I should turn around. So I went home, my head hanging low, feeling really embarrassed and kind of ashamed of myself. And I didn’t exercise again for another year. 

Megan Porta  06:01

Fast forward from there to another version of Megan. Probably Megan 41.0, or something like that. At that point in my life, vacations were not as plentiful as they are now. But we did still prioritize taking them occasionally with our family. And with just me and Dan, time leading up to vacations back then. So taking that intentional time off of work was supremely stressful. I remember writing out my huge list of all the things I needed to do before we left, about a week before vacation, I would spend the entire week leading up to vacation working myself to the bone, just so I could take that time off work. By the time we left for vacation, I was a mess. Looking back now, of course I was understandably so I was exhausted, I probably squeezed in two weeks or more worth of work in like five days or something like that. Vacation, once we got on, it wasn’t as enjoyable as it could have been because I was trying so hard to recoup those first few days, I was tired the entire time. And when we got back from vacation, I’d either get right back into work and get sick, or I’d avoid work entirely falling behind with everything else and compounding the stress in the madness. Oh my goodness.

Megan Porta  07:23

These sorts of situations were very common for me for more years than I would like to admit. I did the sorts of things over and over and over and over, not ever taking the lesson away and not making changes. I still to this day, don’t get it right all the time. We just took a vacation last week. And guess what? I am sick this week. But I definitely navigate different types of time off. So much better now. Megan 48.0 is on a good path. And it feels so good things are looking up my friends. So let’s talk through five ways to not let time off. Thank you. So you can learn from my mistakes. Please learn from my mistakes. 

Megan Porta  08:08

Number one plan ahead. This one is kind of obvious. But planning is so crucial for taking time off. Sometimes taking time off is unexpected and unexpected time from work can crush an entrepreneur, if we are not prepared. This is why it is good to always be ahead even just a little bit. I’ve had my stretches of flying by the seat of my pants as an entrepreneur that has been such a dangerous territory for me to be in. When I’ve been in that mindset, it was like setting myself up for failure just so perfectly. Any little disruption in life can literally sink us when we are operating like that. So let’s talk about a couple different ways to maintain a cadence where you’re always a little bit ahead and in a few different areas. So for business, how do we plan ahead with business? For food bloggers an obvious one here is being a few weeks or even a few months ahead with your content creation and publishing schedules. This one takes some forethought and diligence. But it feels so good to have wiggle room in this area. Back when I was creating a lot of new content for my blog, I felt the happiest and most free when I was about. I don’t know, I think probably three weeks or so ahead with content creation and scheduling. For some of you, it might feel really daunting to get to this point where you can accomplish something like this, but I promise that it is so worthwhile to put in the effort with it. For about the first year of having this podcast, fly by the seat of my pants was literally my middle name. I would record an episode on Friday. I’d edit it on I don’t know Saturday or Sunday and I would publish it Monday. That is absurd. I cannot even imagine doing this now. I would die. I am currently two months ahead of schedule. All with recording podcast interviews. So if I want to take a month off work and take my roller coaster enthusiast kid to Valleyfair, every single day, I could do it. And nobody would have any idea. I don’t pre-plan like this with every piece of my business. But for the big things, the important things I definitely do, this is a huge priority of mine. When taking intentional time off work, we food bloggers like to get ahead before we leave, right. So if you’re taking vacation, it’s nice to be able to do the work that you would be doing while you’re on vacation ahead of time. So let’s address this really quick. 

Megan Porta  10:37

If you have a vacation plan, for example, and you’ll be taking a week off of work, disperse all the tasks that you would need to complete that week that you’re taking off into your schedule in the weeks leading up to vacation. Notice I said weeks and not week singular like I used to do that will lead to burnout and vacation distress which you don’t want. Intentionality and forethought requires effort. But it’s so worth it in the long run. You do not want to come back from vacation feeling behind this can be really overwhelming. And it’s a really good formula for never wanting to take vacation again. Another thing to plan ahead with is just taking care of yourself. This one has a little bit more gray area because you can’t bank self care in the same way that you bank work. You can’t however, prime yourself so that habits are established and you don’t stop self care entirely when any little life disruption happens. How do you do this, you prioritize self care as much as possible. Get into a good groove with a morning routine. Not just that, but fall in love with your morning routine or if it’s not a morning routine. Whatever you do to perform self care throughout the day, fall in love with it. When you are in a groove and set the ground rules with this. You don’t want to fall off the wagon. I am in this place currently where I can see my mental state start slipping when I’m out of my self care routine for too long. I noticed that now and I get right back into it because I don’t want to be in a place where I’m not taking care of myself. Even when I’m sick. I try to do at least some portion of my morning routine. So I will still sit down with my gratitude journal and meditate. For example, if working out is not an option, all of the time that I put into self care when I’m living normal life and feeling good leading up to being sick or leading up to vacation keeps me wanting to continue it. When we go on vacation, I take extra walks to supplement exercise I find a place to meditate even if it’s in the corner of our RV. And my diligence with this keeps me on track so I don’t come back feeling like everything’s been lost. That’s not to say that I don’t get off track ever I definitely do. But the more pre work I do in this area keeps me from staying down. If I slip and fall on the ice, now I start walking or I go inside and do jumping jacks. I don’t let it stop me completely. 

Megan Porta  13:09

Another way to plan ahead is with life. This one can really sneak up on me. A life disruption such as sickness, vacation or whatever used to set me back with keeping up with my home and just my life to do list. So a small pile of laundry would turn into this huge insurmountable mountain that I wanted to throw in the dumpster. A few appointments that I needed to schedule would turn into a dozen calls I was way behind on. So like to self care, the way to plan ahead with life tasks is just to stay on top of them when things are flowing. You could set aside an hour each week to make calls, or do a load of laundry every other day. Do the dishes every night. Do what you need to do to not let things pile up in this area and that is going to set you up for success. When time off happens whether planned or unplanned. You won’t feel sunk and getting back into the groove is so doable. 

Megan Porta  14:09

Number two allow for wiggle room. Allowing for a wiggle room isn’t always possible especially when sickness is involved. Those head colds or flu bugs whatever hits your body can totally sink US within minutes of feeling great, am I right? But when it is possible, allow for that wiggle room. When a vacation or maybe maternity leave any other plan time off is happening. Be realistic about your reentry into work or whatever you’re getting back into. Assume that you will be preparing for some event or activity for I don’t know one to two to three days before you leave, and that you’ll need one to two to three days of recovery afterward. This especially applies to the introverts out there. Shout out to my fellow introverts at the time we’re recording this we are just under two weeks away from Flavor Media Summit. This is a huge event, the largest event by far that I’ve ever hosted. So a few months ago, I knew I would need to build some wiggle room into my calendar, both before and after the event. I have little to no calls scheduled the week prior to Flavor Media. We are not hosting guests in our home, I am saying no to all invitations, leading up to the event. I am not recording podcast interviews, my schedule is very open. After the event, same thing, no podcast interviews or calls the entire week after aside from my mastermind group, my business partner Melissa and I are planning a massive down day immediately after the event, which may involve some sort of spa treatment, I hope self care will be the theme of that entire week for me afterward. This is wiggle room. Depending on the magnitude of your event or time off that you’re taking it might be less or it might be more than what I’m doing with Flavor Media. Just factor that wiggle room into your calendar and err on the side of too much versus not enough. Like I mentioned earlier, when I don’t allow for wiggle room, I get sick, then I’m forced to take time off anyway. It’s so much better when I plan the wiggle room and time to recoup and stay healthy.

Megan Porta  16:25

Number three, choose a jump back in date and stick to it. The planning and the wiggle room are super important. But so is getting back to work or getting back to exercising or doing yoga or getting back to whatever it is that you’ve been taking a break from. Remember Megan 41.0, who didn’t plan for time off and who got back from vacation and felt like a massive pile of garbage was heaped on top of her so she didn’t even move or do anything. She avoided jumping back in at an appropriate time compounding that work and inevitably making the following few weeks a horrendous messy experience. Once your time off is done, and you’ve given yourself the wiggle room that you’ve needed, it is time to get back to it. I think this one is especially hard when it comes to getting back into something like exercising or self care. With work. It’s obvious what needs to be done to stay on track with your business goals. But those other things can so easily be pushed ever so gently to the backburner, at least for me. Ironically, those are the things we need the most because without them, everything in life becomes more difficult. It’s so easy for me to fall into the thinking of I’m off track, and I ate like crap. So what’s the point before I know it two weeks have slipped by and I’m still eating like I’m on vacation, and I’m still avoiding the gym, blah, blah, blah. This is one of the biggest things I have learned in the past few years. When it is time to get back at it, it is time to get back at it. I mentioned that I’m just coming off a sickness. I hate that I was not able to work out for three days. And that I haven’t been as productive with work for the past few days. My morning routine has taken a backseat to getting sleep, getting rest and blowing gobs of gross snot from my nose. You’re welcome. A previous version of me would have thrown in the towel completely I would have fallen into that. What’s the point mindset and let all of the hard work that I’ve done leading up to this point, completely go to waste. But I refuse to do that anymore. Sickness is not going to stop me. This morning. I was feeling good enough to workout so I did. I didn’t work as hard but that’s okay, I got back in and that felt really good. So find a good jump back in day whether your time off has been planned or unplanned. And just do it. Don’t delay on this. Your body and mind and work and most importantly, your future self will thank you. 

Megan Porta  19:07

Number four work on your mindset. Every struggle that we’ve talked about so far has been a mindset issue. Me slipping on the ice and walking back home. That is mindset, thinking I don’t need or deserve wiggle room before or after a vacation mindset. Getting sick after pushing too hard before or after time off mindset. How you deal with time off all comes down to the state of your mind. Establish that morning routine, meditate exercise regularly. Do things that help you build up your confidence. Understand that you are worthy of taking time off. You’re also worthy of loving and caring for yourself. Read books and listen to podcasts that support a healthy mindset. Place yourself in groups of people who support and encourage a healthy mindset. Listen to Eat Blog Talk more mindset and self care episodes regularly, so you are always keeping mindset at the top of your mind. The sole reason I started recording these episodes was because mindset is everything. As a busy entrepreneur, you need to take time off to stay healthy. And taking time off requires mindset work. It’s like this lovely little hamster wheel that you want to keep moving along. So take the time off, do the mindset work, keep that healthy little hamster wheel spinning, and everything will work so magically. 

Megan Porta  20:33

Number five, ditch the guilt. I have a few entrepreneur friends who pride themselves on never taking time off work. And I don’t understand this. But I think they do this because one, I think it makes them feel like they have something to prove maybe just to themselves, I don’t know. And to they feel guilty when they take time off work. This is such an old school way of thinking. Because guilt has no place in your business, it has no place in your life period. planned time off from work helps your productivity it helps your creativity, it helps you to show up as a more healthy and capable human, to your followers, users, audience listeners, whatever. I will be bold enough to say that time off is essential. It’s critical. It’s imperative. I know some people would disagree with this, but I stand by it and so firmly believe in that. Embracing this concept is going to help you prepare, plan and create space around your precious time off so that you can show up with a healthy mindset. It’s also going to help you ditch the guilt. Guilt is such a heavy load and it will weigh you down it will weigh your business down. As entrepreneurs and especially as women, we need to stop feeling guilty for taking time we need for self care. We need to stop feeling guilty when we don’t follow through on self care. And we need to stop feeling guilty about taking time off work that we need. Friends, you guys work so hard, I see you working your butts off. You deserve to feel good, which means dedicating time to you. And taking time off work occasionally and sometimes not just occasionally. But a lot. Not carrying guilt around is going to help you bounce back quickly after anytime you take off. It feels like women especially carry so much guilt and we just have to get rid of it. It serves no purpose in our lives or our businesses. 

Megan Porta  22:40

That is all I have for you today, my friends. So let’s do a quick recap. Five ways to not let time off sink you. Number one, plan ahead. Plan ahead with business self care and life tasks. Number two, allow for wiggle room. Number three, choose a jump back in day and stick to it. Number four, work on your mindset. And number five, ditch the guilt. I hope you all found this episode helpful. I would love to hear from you reach out and say hello. And I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. Thank you so much for listening. See you next week. 

Megan Porta  23:21

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