Can You Take a Break from Work?
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. :>)