Taking Proper Breaks

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I'm not sure how "taking a break" ever received a negative connotation. But, it did, at least for me. I once associated the term with weakness, a waste of time, an unnecessary evil.   

I now believe the opposite. Taking a break is one of the most productive lifestyle changes I've made in recent years. But not just any break, "A PROPER BREAK."

I define A PROPER BREAK as weekly time out of the office to restore energy & zest for life.  

I take smaller daily breaks and even hourly breaks – I may cover these in a future post – but today I’ll cover the finer elements of taking A PROPER BREAK.

  1. Break for Passion. The break is deeply rooted in my passion. It must take me to my happy place. A trip to New York City isn't a break for me. It may be fun, but it's not a proper break. I need to lose cell service, get my feet wet, cast a fly, sleep in a hammock, row a boat, pet my dog, and stare at the stream. That's my happy place, and that's a proper break.

  2. Schedule the break. I schedule the breaks in my work calendar. Once in the calendar, it auto-populates my calendly to let clients know I'm out of the office, but more importantly, when it hits the calendar, it becomes real, and it gets done.

  3. Make a project list. As soon as I plan the break, I build a list of projects I want to accomplish before I leave. This false deadline puts my productivity in overdrive. I'll knock out a week of work in two days if I know a fly fishing trip awaits.

  4. Prepare for the break. Just as I prep for important work projects, I prepare for breaks. I check the weather. I check the river flows. I read the fishing reports. I organize my flies. I pack my gear. And I get excited. Heck, I'm getting excited thinking about it.

  5. Revise the project list. Before heading out the door, I'll revise my project list, so I know what to tackle when I return. Knowing this list exist keeps me from thinking about it on the river. It's on the list.

  6. Seed your mind. Based on the distance to productive steelhead fly water, my breaks involve a commute. I use this time to seed my mind via audible books and podcasts. The more this material makes me think, the better break. As I approach the stream, thought leaders transition to my favorite musicians. I'm all set to free my mind.

  7. Free your mind. I work for myself, so there is technically no beginning or end to my workdays. Rather than building fences around "no work" on proper breaks, I let my mind be free. If it wants to think about work, I let it think about work. If it wants to disconnect, I let it disconnect. If ideas come, I jot them down and make another cast. Giving the mind freedom is the essence of the break.

  8. Appreciate the break. Several times throughout the break, I stop, take a deep breath, and give thanks. I'm doing what I love, the sun's shining on a new day, the water is calm and cool, my dog is asleep in boat, and for all the small simple things… I’m gracious.

Oh yeah, and don't try to reach me this Wednesday. I'll be taking A PROPER BREAK.


The previous writing and thinking is inspired by the eclectic group of souls named the Western Writers League. You can the see the works of others at mario.to & nuture theory.