More Than WE Know

Women Entrepreneurs sharing Information, Inspiration and Support

Labor Day – Entrepreneur’s Holiday?

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 4, 2007

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I’m writing this post on the train heading into NY. I spent Labor Day weekend at our house on the lake in Connecticut.  I really tried to get into the spirit of Labor Day this year and did my best to refrain from working.  My husband and I went kayaking, and swimming, planted fall flowers and had an “end of summer” picnic with our neighbors.   All in all, a pretty respectable observance of the “working (wo)man’s” holiday.  But I have to admit that my mind repeatedly wandered to challenges in my business, and more than once I picked up my laptop to respond to an email or check my blogstats.

Labor day was originally conceived to give a break to the average worker.  I guess it was assumed that management had enough time off; this one was for the laborer. Work life has changed a lot since 1882; it is no longer as easy to tell when we are working and when we are not; it is also not as easy to tell who is the laborer and who is management, especially in regards to entrepreneurs.

In the 19th century, you were either working, or you weren’t.  In the factory, in the fields, in the store, in the mines  – working; anything else – not.  But in the 21st century, we take our jobs with us – in the forms of Blackberries, Treos, cell phones, pagers, laptops, wi-fi connections and satellite wireless cards.  We can always be making one more call, checking in with one more client  or writing one more article.  We can be reached 24×7, 365 days per year and even more, it’s harder to turn our minds off of the problems and challenges of our “knowledge work” . 

As entrepreneurs, we fall somewhere in the murky realm between laborers and management.  In theory, we are managment, even leaders – as we develop the strategies to design and market our products and services. But in many cases, we are also the laborers – producing the products, packaging the merchandise, fulfilling the orders, making the sales calls, and setting the appointments. 

Many of us have difficulty taking time off – our businesses depend on our efforts, afterall. And for many of us, our work is also our passion, which means that sometimes the thing that feels most fun is actually – more work!

While all work and no play will make Jack a dull boy, it will make Jill a burned out entrepreneur.  As hard as it is, we all  need to take time for ourselves. We need to get away from the constant, everyday demands of our business.  And the irony is that if we do, we’ll return with greater perspective, greater passion, greater creativity and greater energy than if we had continued working straight through.

Most of us have businesses that our great-grandparents would not be able to recognize or understand.  The world has changed dramatically since they first established Labor Day. But their rationale and their wisdom still holds true – every so often, we need to take a day off from our work. What looks like doing nothing – is really doing something.  We are giving ourselves a chance to gain perspective, to re-energize and to refuel. 

How did you spend your Labor Day? Are you able to shut off your business now and then? I’d love to hear your secrets – please share below.

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