Anyone who's been blogging or working at similar creative pursuits for a while knows that it takes time, energy, and good doses of inspiration and creativity. If you add your creative or blogging duties to all the other items on your normal to-do list, it can be overwhelming sometimes. This is why I'm a firm believer in taking a break. Here are my top 3 reasons:
To Maintain Health and Peace
We need to get away to maintain health and peace. My husband and I have been self-employed for over 30 years. While there are many benefits, running a business is taxing, and time off is essential to not only our well-being, but for relationships with each other, family, and friends too. Our business runs from our home, so despite taking days off, its presence is ever near, a reminder of constant, necessary tasks. My point - we learned early on that "You don't really get away unless you get away."
I think this is true with blogging and other creative pursuits as well. Writers, artists, designers, and freelancers of all kinds pour so much into their careers and life. There are constant reminders of what must and could be done everywhere, from our standard work load to Facebook to Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, and beyond. The creative and business world never stops. Demands and requests from coworkers, clients, family, and friends are never ending. They’re not all bad, of course, but they can drain us of creativity and energy. Taking a break helps us to step back and get away by setting healthy space between us and our commitments and demands. Boundaries, when set well, are a very good thing.
To Rediscover Our Creativity
Combined with other commitments, our work and additional pursuits’ constant demands can dry out the creative well. Keeping up often crowds out creativity, and can cause stress to build. It can create a drop in productivity, too. So, we need time to rediscover what refreshes us. To reinvent what inspires us. To remember why we started doing what we’re doing in the first place. A break provides opportunities to work on other projects, and to explore our creative side in fresh, new ways.
To Gain Mental and Physical Space
We need that mental and physical space. A lot of it, and much more than we allow ourselves; I’d guess. Between my laptop, tablet, and smart phone, I'm potentially connected 24/7. While this isn't a bad thing in the right measure, it can be detrimental to my life and worldview. I compare it to a vacation; sometimes we need a change of scenery, to get away from the "screens" of everyday life.
Distance from work, blogging, and similar pursuits can be therapeutic. So whether taking a walk, cleaning out a closet, or meeting a friend for lunch, you're gaining healthy space, hands on life experience, and perhaps some creative ideas too.
That said, what's the best way to take a break?
Just Do It
Jump right in. If you’re a blogger, for example, tell your readers you're taking a break. Follow up on prior commitments, such as guest posts or interviews, of course, but make a break a part of the regular schedule. When I was blogging regularly, I’d schedule a 3-4 week break at the end of the year. I looked forward to this break – it was delightful! It's not that I disliked my blog or friends there, it's just that by this time of year, I needed a breather. Often my other work slows down during this time too, so it was a good time to kick back, read more, work on projects, etc.
You’ve got to be disciplined. Like seriously. Resist the urge to fill the break with other commitments that possess the ability to drain you. Be firm. Determine that this is your time off. Set boundaries, even limiting time on social media if that aids in your escape from daily demands. Make a list of items you'd like to accomplish if that helps stay focused and motivated. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, though. The break is meant to reap healthy benefits.
Get Off the Treadmill
The work treadmill, that is. Sometimes we don't know what we're missing until we hop off. There's a whole other world out there for us to explore. We know this, but sometimes we get wrapped up in cyberspace if we work online, especially, and forget to direct our energies elsewhere. That "elsewhere" produces plenty of creative ideas for future use.
Take Advice from the Experts
Veteran freelancer Jennifer Brown Banks shares savvy advice in this post on how to stay the course as a blogger. Her advice applies to creatives across the board, I think. She tells us to,
“Pause for the cause,” and to, “Build in periodic breaks to prevent a "break down." I personally take routine breaks around summer vacation, the Christmas season, or whenever my work schedule or health dictates that I really need one. You should too.”
“At some point, employees need to stop working to recharge their batteries, so to speak. Short breaks during the workday can actually boost mental resources such as attention, ensuring good performance.”
Grippo goes on to say that a balanced assortment of breaks, such as physical activity and helping a coworker brainstorm can help us detach from the work mindset that saps our energy.
It Will All Still Be There
Remember, it’ll all still be there when we return from our break. The work world will continue to spin in our absence. The sun will rise. The sun will set. And our friends and coworkers will be there when we get back. Unless they're taking a break, of course.
Image 1 - Pexels
Image 2 - Pexels