March 2014 was probably the most hectic month I’ve had business-wise. Between multiple client projects and the launch of Be a Freelance Writer, I was–as a good friend described–“crazy busy.”
Not that I’m complaining of course. As you know, I LOVE what I do. I’m passionate about my work, my clients, and more importantly, the readers of BeaFreelanceWriter.com. I considered being busy a huge blessing.
However, I also knew that I needed a break. So last month, after capping up a hectic Monday to Saturday workweek, I woke up Sunday morning and resolved to do absolutely nothing. I stayed home, had pizza delivered, and binged-watch re-runs of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
I told myself that I would do only mindless stuff that day, and I would wake up on Monday all refreshed and ready to work.
Except it completely backfired.
Come Monday morning I woke up with a headache from watching too much TV and staying up late, and took it 30 minutes of jogging and 3 cups of coffee to fully turn on “work mode”.
So what went wrong? Shouldn’t taking a break from it all be a good thing?
Answer: Yes, unwinding is a MUST. But looking back at my actions that week, I realized that there are wrong ways to take a break. I’ve identified the mistakes I made and listed them below. Can you relate?
1. Not taking a break sooner – I worked for six straight days so by the end of it all, my body couldn’t muster up the energy to do anything else.
What to do instead: Don’t make the same mistake. Instead of pushing yourself to work non-stop, opt to have short frequent breaks in between. For instance, instead of doing client work from Monday to Friday, devote a day (or even half day) somewhere in between to do errands or have some “you” time.
2. Being a lazy couch potato – Mistake #2 was opting to spend the day mindlessly staring at the TV. I didn’t even bring myself to cook or go out to buy food.
What to do instead: Look, I’m not saying don’t watch TV or don’t do nothing ever, but try to avoid being idle for too long. Consider doing something else in between couch time. Maybe read a book. Or go outside. Or simply spend time with your loved ones. (Which was exactly what I did the following week.)
Here’s another reason why taking a mindless break for a long period of time is a bad idea: As writers, part of our job is to get creative and come up with new topics. And in my experience, an idle mind isn’t a good breeding ground for inspiration or creativity. Cooking up great ideas comes from thinking and experiencing new things– and you can’t really do that if you’re sitting mindlessly on the couch.
Over to you
But then again, perhaps that’s just me. Every person’s break and productivity patterns are different so my advice may not necessarily apply to you.
That said, do you agree that (extended) mindless breaks are bad for writers? And do you have tips when it comes to taking breaks? Let me know in the comments below.