My dear friend very kindly shared her prized recipe for scones. She’s a master baker entrepreneur with her own line of exceptional baked goods. Even though I knew my scones wouldn’t be nearly as good as hers, I decided to follow her recipe and whip up a batch. This is one of my favourite ways to spend time and unwind: hours of Coronation Street on the PVR and a kitchen table covered with ingredients, bowls, baking pans and measuring spoons. So zen!
I took my time and measured every ingredient precisely, chilled the butter and cut it into the flour perfectly, was delicate handling the dough and did not overwork it and then feeling fairly confident, I popped them into the 350-degree pre-heated oven. And then I waited at the oven door to see that magical rise.
I waited. And waited. Five minutes in… nothing. Ten minutes in, still nothing. What the actual hell?!
I’m not an amazing baker like my recipe sharing friend by any stretch but I have done this before, so my expectations that they would rise and be fluffy were reasonable. Where did I go wrong?
The scones just sat there, flat and defeated, sadly surrendering their butter all over my parchment lined baking sheet.
Feeling all kinds of humbled for failing to make them all that they could be I looked for the culprit. Hey, Columbo, what’s the best before date on that baking powder? Grabbing the container from the counter to check the info stamped on the bottom, what do I discover? I had used cornstarch. Corn freakin’ starch! Wasn’t the baking powder in a yellow container? I grabbed a yellow container, yes I did, but its a yellow container of not bladdy baking powder!
And that’s when I knew that I had reached peak time-off relaxation. My usual eagle eye for detail? Away on vacay!
Now that I’ve shared this seriously mortifying event with you, here I am refreshed, with imaginary finger pistols shooting eco-friendly glitter up in the air like I just don’t care because, babes, THE HOLIDAYS ARE OVER AND I AM BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN!
I cannot tell you how much I needed that break, answering to Only Myself and doing only My Own Stuff. Real talk, though? I missed the focus and the mental gymnastics and the busy business of the day to day routine because in many ways it’s easier. It’s easier to just keep going, to stay bound within the must-do’s, no matter how borderline inhumane the self-imposed hours and the constant demands of pings, buzzes, and rings.
As entrepreneurs, we’ve traded Monday to Friday for seven day weeks. We don’t finish at 5 pm, we reply to texts and emails, commenting on facebook and instagram and the umpteen social media itches we have to scratch around the clock.
In bed with the flu running a brain-frying fever? Check your phone. In the dentist’s chair waiting to be numbed up for your root canal? Check your phone. There’s no let-up. We just keep going and going and going.
It’s become the norm, it’s just what we do. This easy access goes everywhere tech has taken over our lives. It’s become a habit, a dangerous out of kilter habit. Taking actual time off is nourishment for all the parts of us that makes us tick. Doing nothing can be the most productive thing you do in the big picture.
My time off was divine. I didn’t plan anything, I just wanted to be at a loose end and available for shenanigans. I visited with friends, had cocktails in the afternoon more than once and my group of card-playing ladies carried on until the break of dawn, ok 2:30 am, but we made it past 11 pm and for us that’s badass. I spent time preparing for Christmas without rushing, researching my recipes, shopping and brining and baking Italian chocolate nut cakes and old-fashioned fruit cakes for days – yes, Susan, fruitcake isn’t for everyone but people do actually ask for my fruitcakes, mmmkay. I watched movies and documentaries and napped. Oh, how I napped!
I got some stuff done but not as much as I planned and I’m ok with that for the most part. I enjoyed my morning coffee and finished it before it got cold while seated in my heated massage desk chair to work on projects all my own, taking a whole entire day to focus selfishly on just that. No Gmail, no cell phone, no facebook, nada. Glorious self-indulgence! This shouldn’t be unattainable, right? We can do this throughout the year. We can set boundaries on our time.
So how about a scheduled day per week to do just that – to work uninterrupted on your business, your passion project, your development, your whatever the hell you want? If not a full day every week then how about taking 7 am to 10 am a day or more per week? If this sounds unreasonable then perhaps you need this even more than you think.
Merely functioning on auto-pilot is clearly not the way to go: not in life, not in business, not in baking, not in driving a car – though we all have arrived home (stone cold sober) with no memory of the trip, right?
It’s way too easy to live our lives on the proverbial hamster wheel.
Setting boundaries about how you spend your time is not just smart and courageous, it’s absolutely necessary. Setting time aside to do focused work to grow your business is a game changer. The world will keep spinning, I promise.
Gentle reminder: You are the boss of you! It’s your time. You decide how you spend it. Put yourself on your schedule and make it a non-negotiable priority.
P.S. I made a second batch of scones with baking powder because it’s not in me to just walk away defeated. Hell no! They were flippin’ amazing!