What do you do when you have several important deadlines upcoming? I say, take a break. Better yet, take several. I’m in this boat right now and plan to take half the day off.
I realize that this may sound contradictory. (“Lots of work ahead? May as well party!”) But bear with me; that’s not exactly what I mean…
Like many of you, I’m a workhorse, easily put into overdrive. What can we say? We’re excited, right? We love our work and are gosh darn going to complete it ASAP, as in yesterday. These attributes can become our Achille’s heal if we’re not careful.
Consider the following:
- Allowing ourselves time to recharge, through active or inactive rest, brings freshness and sharpness to our creativity. Plowing through without breaks, on the other hand, can cause the words on the page to go fuzzy, disrupt our memory capabilities and have asking questions like, “Does ‘dog’ have one ‘g’ or two…?”
- Relaxation techniques, like meditation and breathing exercises, can reduce stress, pain, anxiety, headaches and insomnia, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Any one of these ailments can hinder our deadline-meeting skills.
- People in Germany work an average of nearly 400 fewer hours per year than Americans and live longer, more productive lives.
- A study at Cornell University showed that workers alerted to rest and take short breaks from the computer typed the fastest and made up to 40% fewer mistakes than their non-resting counterparts.
- The fact that Americans are taking continually shorter and fewer lunch breaks is of grande concern to experts like Dr. Rallie McCallister, who said, “Skipping any meal is detrimental. The brain is what most workers rely on and it does not have storage tanks for energy.”“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”Sydney J. Harris
- Eat balanced meals and snacks at regular time intervals, preferably in a calm, relaxing atmosphere. (Or at least without your laptop, cell phone or TV…)
- If you feel stuck, stale or the need for rejuvenation, take a short walk around your block or neighborhood.
- Work when you tend to feel energized and productive. Rest during the rest.
- Take short breaks between each segment of your work–this could be pages, chapters or whatever measure you decide. If writing is your second or part-time job, take a break before shifting gears. Spend your break however you’d like, just make sure it’s enjoyable.
- Take yourself on an “Artist’s Date.” The practice made famous by Julia Cameron’s bestselling book The Artist’s Way involves weekly R&R–just you and your artist self. Take crayons and a sketch pad to a park. Have your nails done. Take your pick.
- Exercise. Regular physical activity relieves stress, boosts our moods, energy and mental focus. It also provides a great form of active meditation… Your mind wanders as your body moves. Valuable epiphanies can strike at any time.