I know, I know. You’re TOO BUSY to take a break. You’ve got too much to do! And the world will stop spinning the minute you take any time off. Right?
In a culture that worships workaholics and doles out brownie points based on exhaustion and 24/7 work skeds, taking time off seems… irresponsible. But guess what? That old adage about, “I’d rather burn out than rust out”? Well, whoop-de-doo. Either way, you’re out. So listen up. Because you need to change. If not for your own sake, then for the sake of those who have to live and work with you.
I know, I know again. Taking time off sounds irresponsible. We may even feel guilty about taking time off to recharge the ‘ole batteries. Of course we need to be responsible. But working non-stop and refusing to take a break or schedule in a regular day of rest earns us a gigantean merit badge in the Who’s More Exhausted/Committed/Successful/Awesome/fill in the blank category, right?
Because here’s the deal: no one is effective if they’re constantly running on fumes. You might surprised at how much more productive you can be following a season of rest. How much and when are up to you.
Here are some “Rest Tips”:
- “Rest” is whatever lets you take a breath. Power down. And return to work refreshed and recharged. I recommend taking one day off a week and unplugging. If you can’t do that, try every other week, or maybe a few morning or afternoon hours.
- Be intentional about resting your mind, soul, spirit, and body. Put rest on the calendar. Schedule it in. Seriously. If you don’t, you’ll probably be “too busy” to make it happen.
- Speaking of which, only you can make your rest day happen. Do it.
- A well-rested person is happier, healthier, and easier to work with and for. S/he is also far more productive in the long-run than that stressed-out, crabby, cranky curmudgeon who hasn’t learned the value of rest – until they wind up in the hospital with a heart attack.
A regular day or half a day of rest may seem irresponsible. Don’t listen to that lie. You’re doing yourself a favor, stocking up your store of energy by working at resting. When you return, you can hit work twice as hard and be much more productive having taken some time off to recharge.
- Watch a movie or listen to music
- Go out to dinner (best with a friend)
- Read something that’s not work-related. In other words, just for the fun of it.
- Turn off the TV. Step away from the computer. Put down the mobile device. Turn it off. Yes. O-f-f. You won’t die. Promise.
- Fly a kite
- Take a bicycle ride or a road trip
- Go outside
- Wash the car. Wash the dog. Wash the dishes, kids, windows…
- Sleep late and/or take a nap. It’s okay. The world will keep turning while you’re catching some extra zzzzs.
- Pick some flowers
- Bake some cookies (even better if you share)
- Walk on the beach
- Visit a neighbor
- Find your neighbor
- Go window-shopping
- Take the dog out for a walk
- Make ice cream
- Eat ice cream
- Hit the tennis court, basketball court, gridiron, soccer field, ice rink, track, or whatever “field of dreams” appeals
- Go fishing
Did I mention hike?
One other thing. If at all possible, go somewhere quiet. Treat your heart and mind to some solitude. If that means locking yourself in the bathroom, hiking the Himalayas, swapping babysitting with another parent, asking the grandparents to take over once in awhile, or booking the next flight to the dark side of moon, do it. Find someplace secluded or nearly secluded. The attic. A beach. The garage. Forest. Lake. Dark side of the moon. Lose the ipad and the smart phone. Forget Facebook (It’ll be there when you get back. Promise.)
Give yourself permission to take a break. Rest. Disconnect. Be intentional. Deliberate. It may look/sound like this (trail to Crystal Lakes at Mount Rainier National Park):
Don’t look at rest as an irresponsible waste of time. You’d be amazed at what a little peace and quiet can do for your soul – and how it can boost your creativity and productivity. Some of the most productive people I know are those who’ve learned to work at rest.
As for me? I’m headed out the door shortly to hike Mount Rainier’s Tolmie Peak. I can’t wait!
How do you work at rest?
A version of this article first appeared on the author’s blog, Roads Diverged.