It’s OK to Take a Break

28 October, 2019

Giving in for one night and saying the hell with it, I’ll start again tomorrow, is fine, and you should never worry about doing it. The world won’t end because you say the hell with it and get comfortable for one damn night. And if it does? Well, s**t, were you guarding the single button that was going to save the world? No, you weren’t.

— Warren Ellis

I know far too many people who feel, for lack of a better word, guilty if they’re not working. They’ve become so tightly coupled to the productivity assembly line that they can’t step away, even when their minds and bodies tell them to.

That’s no way to work. That’s no way to live.

That can come back to haunt you. It did with me.

Several years ago, I was working a lot. I’d started my own small consulting business. I was blogging. I was doing a lot of freelance writing. Five, six days a week. Often all seven of those days without a pause.

Then, one weekend, my body and my brain turned on me. I was physically weak. I was weighed down by fatigue. I was too tired to do anything except lay on the couch and watch BBC World News.

That weekend taught me a valuable lesson: it’s OK to take a break once in a while. Now, when my body and mind tell me they can’t do something, I don’t push through the fatigue. I don’t force myself to do something. I listen to what my mind and body say and step back.

I know that if I do try to push through, I’ll only be working at 20% or 30% efficiency. I’ll spend more time the next day re-doing what I did the previous day — the quality of my work suffers when my mind and body aren’t in the proper state.

Don’t feel guilty about taking a break. Don’t deny yourself that break. Sometimes, you need to step away. It keeps your mind and body fresh. It allows you to relax and reflect. In the longer run, taking a break will improve your work. It could improve your life, even if just a little.

Scott Nesbitt