I did something really important last weekend. I took a whole day off! I have been consistently working seven days a week for months without a break and my coach strongly suggested that I try to take one full day off each week. Well, if my coach told me to do this and it was part of my assignment, I could not refuse.

I have to admit I was very anxious about this. If I do indeed take Sunday off, what will my Monday be like? Won’t I be even more stressed than if I worked the whole week?

I had to make a plan. I knew that if I stayed around the house, I would be compelled to look at my computer and blackberry and do some work. I know myself all too well. So I planned a trip with a friend to go to Provincetown for the day. It was a beautiful day and a perfect time for an outing on Cape Cod. We took the ferry from Martha’s Vineyard and drove the length of the Cape, listened to great music, ate a fabulous lunch at an outdoor café, and shared some small talk.

My next challenge was to not discuss business all day. I didn’t do too well in this category, but this “taking a break” thing is a process for me, and at least I was off to a fairly good start. After all, I physically removed myself from my office and work environment. (I do think I might have cheated though when I came home that night and did a little work before heading to bed. Don’t tell my coach!)

Monday morning I felt refreshed and energized and not at all stressed. It was a good experiment for me and a great lesson as well.

Sometimes our drive to be successful drives us to work compulsively. Can you relate to this?  Intellectually, I’m sure we all recognize this is not healthy.  I know that I certainly do, yet pulling myself away from work once a week to do something entirely different makes me anxious; a clear sign to me that this is unhealthy behavior.

I am mindful that at least once a day I need to leave my desk and my office and do something unrelated to work. I am mindful that once a week I should take twelve hours of respite to renew my energy, spirit and passion for my work. What I have discovered is that when I step away from work my creativity kicks in and I can actually think more clearly.

Case in point, for weeks on end I was trying to think of a new name for my radio show. Women Mean Business is trademarked by NAWBO and though I was unaware of this when the show launched, I did receive notice from them to stop using the name. I loved the name and racked my brain trying to think of something equally sticky and clever. I even ran a contest on LinkedIn to get more ideas. Trying to get a new name was on my mind night and day. Here’s the lesson though. As soon as I let it go and stepped away from the problem, a solution came to me.  Miraculously out of the blue, the new name, Head over Heels, popped into my brain. WOW! I could not believe it. This process of “letting go” really worked.

If I can pass along any wisdom about this it is to be mindful yourself of how your drive to be successful can work against you at times if you don’t take a break and let go. Not only is it not healthy, but the consistent compulsive need to work actually stifles your creativity and is counter productive.

This is a process that I’m just beginning myself.

Well, need to get back to work. :>)

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  • Bonnie – this is a great post. There are never enough reminders that “downtime” is so very important. Indeed, it is just the type of space we need for creative thoughts and innovative ideas to bubble up to the surface. So glad you shared the idea of giving ourselves the gift of creative space. Your radio program is great….wishing you much success. ~Terry

  • One of my business associates gave me a lecture the other day about taking one day a week for myself to detoxify my mind. I am going to unplug the computer on Friday and take a stab at not working.