I'm writing this article while sitting beside a gorgeous lake in North Central Ontario. It is our family summer vacation and a much needed break from the everyday grind. For me, "the grind" is a 4:30 AM wake-up for boot camp and then personal training appointments and management duties for the rest of the day. I love it! But, man, is it nice to have a break.

Recently, I wrote about how I maintain high energy levels. I really believe that taking low-tech breathers like I am this week play a big role in keeping my physical and mental energy high. For nine straight days, I will be disconnected from the daily operations of All Canadian Fitness. My staff has instructions to reach me only in case of emergency! I trust them absolutely and know that I'll return in a week to a strong, sound business with a renewed sense of purpose.

As I write this on PAPER with a PEN, it just occurred to me that I am actually disconnected from the daily grind in more ways than one. I purposely did not bring my laptop on vacation this time. I brought my acoustic guitar instead! I don't own a blackberry or an iPhone, so I brought my cell phone for emergency use only and it is sitting in my room on the bed side table. My days at the lake includes playing guitar, swimming, cycling, playing with my kids, hanging out with my wife and eating. Amazing. And it is not time wasted.

As I have been spending the last few days relaxing, my mind has occasionally drifted back to the "office," but, I find that the thoughts take on a different perspective when you are surrounded by water, trees and birds. Nothing seems as urgent and I find that I have solved more than one problem by simply taking my mind off of it.

As you grow and develop your skills in training and in business, your Sphere of Influence (SOI) will expand. You will meet and influence more and more people on a daily basis. With this comes greater satisfaction, responsibility and reward. With this also comes greater stress and even anxiety. Without the down time of an occasional "disconnect", your career will take you over and you will become a slave to your job. Not the master of it.

All true professionals remain extremely guarded about their time. Perhaps even more than of their money! Besides respecting your value and your billable hours, you MUST respect the value of your down time. It should be an absolute priority that you keep time in your business life for nothing but "me" time. If you can't take off to a lake for a week, go cycling for an afternoon. Or play golf. Or take music lessons. Whatever turns you on. During that time, go back 25 years before PCs, cell phones, blackberries etc... and "disconnect." You will be glad that you did and also surprised that the world carried on without you for a few hours.

Now... it's time for me to shake off my writer's cramp (I haven't actually WRITTEN this way in years!) and decide whether to go for a swim, hit some golf balls... or go have a nap!

Ernie Schramayr is an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer and the owner of All Canadian Fitness, a private training studio in Hamilton, Ontario (www.allcanadianfitness.com).


How much of your time would you estimate you spend growing your business?