Time Off

by Megan M. on April 9, 2009 · View Comments (Blog) |

It’s hard for me to grasp the concept of time off.

I don’t exactly know why. When the best damn creative productivity coach this side of the galaxy told me to think of a reward I could give myself for being on the ball, I couldn’t think of a thing. All I could think of was “stop working”, and I don’t think I even really meant it. I didn’t really want time off.

I just wanted to keep going.

A part of me is simply desperate to keep going.

I’ve convinced myself that I have to do this—that my life has to be this way until I have what I want. This is partly true, and partly not: You can bet your ass I’m going to keep plowing forward until I have things the way I want them, but that does not mean running myself into the ground. There are dozens of reasons, but the one I’ve pinned to my forehead is that it’s the least efficient, least effective way to get things done.

I won’t get what I want by destroying myself.

This is not the only reason I need to be reminded of, however. And in point of fact, hanging onto efficiency and effectiveness so hard might be worsening the problem. What about happiness? What about enjoying the journey? What about being proud of the process?

As Angel says (just take a look at the header), stop and smell the freaking flowers.

It’s shocking just how difficult it is for me to digest that. I will apply it to everyone but myself if you give me half a chance. I’ll tell you to give yourself a break, and I’ll go find something else that has to be done now.

I did take a break yesterday, by the way. A real one. My brain was completely shut off for hours. It was grand. When I came home and started talking about work, the impact of the stress coming back to me was absolutely horrifying. I’ve been living in that for how long? Weeks? Months? And I don’t remember the last time I noticed the difference, so it must be a very long time.

If I thought I was getting real downtime, I was wrong.

What do you think happens if I start taking real time off?

I bet I can tell you. I know because it’s the advice I give other people all the time. If you give yourself a rest, you rejuice. You function better. You get stronger. Your brain has time to process your experiences, reactions, confusions, organize them and give you back better solutions. Your response time improves. You feel lighter, happier, more on the ball. You heal better. You think more clearly. You make sharper, faster decisions. You laugh more.

Sounds kinda nice, doesn’t it?

Dude, I agree.

  • KarenBryant


    If you stopped to smell the flowers you'd start weeding.
    Then you'd probably think to yourself, "Self, those weeds would make Great dried flower thingies." Then you'd be off and running on a marketing strategy to develop the flower thingies as a renewable resource to feed some small third world nation's children.
    ALL of which is GREAT!

    But tell me...

    What DID those flowers smell like darlin' ?
  • Norm
    This was fantastic, Megan.

    I used a performance psychologist a long, long, long time ago (when I was your age). He helped me overcome procrastination and call reluctance through behavior modification. Activity linked performance contracts with rewards (and occasional penalties) were the crux of his system.

    My favorite reward? Accomplish X by the end of Thursday = 3 day weekend. I mastered it. My secretary also loved it because she received the same a day off for effectively hounding me. Plus five days pay for four days work.

    Thanks for reminding me. I've been creeping back toward into workaholicism.
  • Nick

    Health is paramount to efficiency. Yey for breaks! :)
  • saranyan
    :) Nothing more.
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