Make sure you take breaks!

I’m finding that one of the best parts of working for myself is that I get to choose my own hours. It’s not a matter of making sure I’m in to work by 7, leaving by 5, or any of those things…I get to create content on a schedule that’s most effective for me, and I really enjoy that. Of course, the trade-off is that I still need to work on a schedule that’s efficient and healthy, and it’s not naturally the most healthy decision to be awake from 11am to 5am. But I digress.

Fact of the matter is that I’ve posted something on the Internet every day for the last 22 days, and it feels like a pretty fantastic accomplishment. But now that the habit is starting to be cemented, I can’t find a way to give myself a true day off. As much as the concept of constantly creating new work is appealing, it’s simply not a sustainable work model; we have to be ready (and willing) to take a day off every so often.

When you work at a high-power IT company, there’s a certain badge of honor that comes from working 60, 70, 80+ hours a week. The job has to get done, and someone has to do it: if it’s your responsibility, it only makes sense that you’d be the one to handle the situation. If you’re like me, though, taking time off work comes with a guilt/apprehension that you can’t shake, a constant fear that things are going completely wrong while you’re taking time off. That gnawing of the conscience can be completely detrimental. but it’s critical to learn to let loose every once in a while, to let a day of responsibility go.

We need space to recharge in order to perform at our optimal levels. Working day in, day out, creates stress and fatigue that we simply can’t push through. Without taking some kind of break or reprieve, we create situations where we obsess over our work, leaving us unable to truly enjoy the time we spend away from our desks. I absolutely love that, for the last 22 days, I’ve haven’t gone to bed without writing something. But am I doing the best work that I could be by forcing these daily posts with no break? I’m not sure.

All our time is valuable, and that includes the time that we spend idle. Even the time that we spend “bored” benefits us by giving us a chance to make connections that we might not have when actively making intellectual connections. As much as we like to think that constantly pushing towards our perceived goal brings the best results, there are certain connections we only make when we let our guards down, when we let our brains process what comes naturally. Those processes don’t occur when we force the issue.

Right now, one of my biggest struggles is finding a chance to take time off. Currently, I have a goal of posting something to the Internet every day; in order to fulfill that goal and take a day off, I need to write  multiple posts in the same day and schedule one for later. Aside from Tech Sabbath, I think I haven’t fulfilled that yet because I haven’t made ia real priority to take a day off, but there’s a part of me that feels like I would legitimately be better at my craft if I gave myself some time to breathe guilt-free, maybe  watching TV, playing games that I’m not going to review, or just enjoying the outdoors. I hope I’ll be able to make that happen sooner rather than later.

How do you make sure you take time off? Do you feel like your work gets better, or worse after a break?

-Josh

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3 thoughts on “Make sure you take breaks!

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