I might be dating myself, but do you remember the old Flintstones cartoons? At the end of the day, the whistle would blow and Fred would slide down his dinosaur to rush to his foot-car so he could go to his wife and family waiting at home. Working out of my home I don’t have the opportunity to leave work at the office and arrive home to spend time with my family. (I also do not work on a dinosaur but that is beside the point.) With work and home being in the same space, I tend to work longer hours than nine to five. Evenings and weekends are fair game often filled with office work and business writing. There is not a boss looking over my shoulder watching the time I commit to the job nor is there a time clock recording my hours. More often than not my Type-A overachiever has me working more hours of the week than the average individual. Which is usually ok, but I am only human.
Being paid by the hour, taking a vacation can be difficult. If I am not available, I am not earning money. On the other hand, if I do not take a break away from my work, I could suffer from exhaustion and burnout. Luckily I had the chance to take a break this April. A trip to Italy provided me for the first time since starting my business twelve days away from the phone, emails, and my computer. I have to be honest, I did bring my book along to work on, but I only pulled it out during long flights or bus rides. All in all, this was the first time in a long time I was completely free from work. Ok, maybe not completely free.
There was one night late in our trip when I spent a few hours talking to our tour guide. He was actually the owner of the amazing tour company, Best Italian Vacations. We talked about his two websites and his plans to increase the number of trips he hosted. It was refreshing to talk about small business for a bit instead of 14th century architecture but it was more than that. I notice a difference in my half of the conversation. I was more open. I was more creative. I was my relaxed. I was more able to give. It was at that moment I realized the importance of taking a break. It is not only for one’s personal health and sanity, but it makes us work better.
Break time, fun time, and play time are all important components of work. Without them we become stifled, stale, anxious, and unproductive. Be sure you are alternating between work and play to maximize the benefits of your right brain. Next time you are stuck on what to do, take a break, go for a walk, or maybe draw a picture. Unlock the chain from your desk and walk away from a project. Many times you will find yourself more productive away from your desk than racking your brain at it.