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Mental deload for developers & entrepreneurs

Jan Koch
I host a virtual conference for WordPress agency owners and freelancers. The WP Agency Summit is dedicated to helping WP community members scale their businesses.
・4 min read

Last week I had the opportunity to take a mental deload week. In that week, I did almost no business-related work and instead focused my energy on spending time with my family and doing some gardening. It was a much needed break from the rollercoaster of being an entrepreneur.

It is a concept you might be familiar with from the gym. When doing a deload training, you are reducing your weights so that your body can regenerate muscle and joints. The point is to grow stronger through a short, active rest period. If this sounds new to you, my friend James Rose has created a short video about mental deload on Youtube. Tim Ferriss also wrote about deloading phases on his blog.

The truth is, that I have a really hard time taking vacations. With Covid19 shutting down all travel inside Germany (not to mention internationally), I am stuck at home currently. Working from home makes it easy to constantly work. When I’m home, I will constantly think about my business. Chances are that you are wired similarly. And we rarely have times for mental deload.

Signs I Needed A Mental Deload

It is really hard to destress for me when I’m home. Thoughts about the summit, new ways to deliver value to my audience, and current challenges occupy my mind when I’m just near my home office. Even though I love my family, I would find myself sitting on the couch with my wife but just being physically present. In my mind, business was taking the majority of my attention.

Eventually, my wife told me that I wasn’t paying enough attention to her. And I sure didn’t. She is amazing in putting up with the pressure I put on myself. I hold myself to extremely ambitious expectations, knowing that I am silently failing on at least half of them. Yet, she puts up with me and I lover her for that.

Whenever she tells me that I am getting too occupied with business (which is a recurring pattern), I know that my schedule is seriously off. That is why I decided to switch gears and reduce my workload.

I tried recharging by directing my energy to other tasks than business. I did a mental deload week, adapting the model from the fitness workouts.

What Mental Deload Looked Like (For Me)

For the first days, I focused on garden work and made a ton of progress – I’m going to implement a smart watering system next spring and finished a lot of prep work for that.

But on Wednesday, business started creeping in again. I just cannot help myself when this happens. Even though Tina told me repeatedly that I said I didn’t want to work, I justified spending a 2-3 hours a day in the home office with some seemingly urgent and important tasks.

I focused on high-level tasks that involved a lot of thinking and no hands-on implementation – and allowed myself to play around a little bit. Playing around in that I stepped into new business ventures. The result is, as you might have seen in my Facebook group, that I started working on WP Agency Summit Merchandise.

Designing shirts, hoodies, mugs, tote bags, and other stuff is fun and a nice variation from the day-to-day coding and running the business.

That’s how I spent my Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, my wife brought me back to mental deloading again. She’s really good at grounding me, which is one of the many reasons I love her.

We took the time to do a nice extended walk in a nearby forest with our daughter and our silver lab. We had a great time and I definitely recharged my batteries on that walk.

Lessons Learned From The Mental Deload Week

Now that the week is over, I’m feeling excited about my tasks at hand again. A feeling I lost a little bit in the day-to-day hustle. A feeling I think is crucially important to avoid burning out and staying on top of your agency.

I also realized that I still suck at delegating and team management. While my VA did continue with her tasks and created more workbooks around the WP Agency Summit, there are tons of tasks she cannot do. This includes stuff happening in German like accounting or client communications – which I don’t yet have a solution for.

So, I highly recommend you also incorporate mental deload weeks. My process helped me realize that I need to continue to work on my team and internal processes. It also shows how important detaching yourself from the business is.

James says he’s doing them every 8 weeks, which is the rhythm I will also try. The next week is planned over Christmas already – I blocked it in my calendar.

Hope this concept helps you and this blog post serves as a reminder to not fully lose yourself in grinding for your agency.

Jan

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