Will not working make me a better worker?

I’m very serious about my business. It’s important to me to do a good job so that my clients are happy with my work. I rely heavily on word of mouth and repeat business, so if someone is unhappy with my work, and that gets around, it could, possibly, bankrupt me, and put me out of business. There’s a lot of pressure.

So I push myself pretty hard. I spend long hours in front of my computer, sending emails and writing press releases. I make sure I maintain my relationships with the media, and am constantly seeking new ones. I drive myself pretty hard. Sometimes the day goes by, and I’ve forgotten to eat.

A couple of things have happened to me lately that have caused me to question my petal-to-the-metal workstyle. One was that I was feeling incredibly burnt out, so I took some time off over Christmas. Ahhhh…. lovely. The other was that I recently saw Michael Moore’s Sicko. There’s a scene where Moore is interviewing a bunch of French people, and they talk about their 35-hour work week and the huge amount of holidays they get every year. “If we’re happy, we’re more productive,” they say.  Huh. Wow. Radical.

So, experiment time: what if I took breaks during the day? Got out of the house for a quick walk, stopped to eat? Is it possible that, by taking breaks, that, when I get back to my desk, my brain will be fresher, clearer, more focused, and I’ll be able to get through my to-do list faster and with less frustration? I know, it sounds crazy, right?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. And I’ll let you know how it goes, but after my coffee break.

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

Comments 7

  1. The nasty side effect of working in a field like publicity is that there is always something else you could be doing, and so it’s too easy to just keep working forever. Lately I’ve actually been leaving the office by 6pm (or earlier!), and I am getting at least the same amount of work done, if not more each day. Sometimes I actually take a lunch break and leave my computer instead of eating at my desk – funny how much more I get done after 4pm on those days. The funniest thing, though, is that no matter how many times I’m pleasantly surprised by the positive effects of taking breaks, for the life of me I can’t seem to make it a habit.

  2. Seems logical to me! I fully support you in giving yourself the fuel, rest and the mental breaks that any human needs to function properly 🙂 I think that you will find much success from incorporating food and rest into your daily routine. I could go on and on but I gotta go – too much to do 😉

  3. Rebecca, I have been in this “biz” for a very long time! And, there are highs, lows and in betweens! Last year for my “biz” was all 3 of them.

    I took a break with my husband for 7 days of doing nothing but enjoying each other’s company, eating awesome and affordable fresh seafood, and watching the beach scene at Playa Manzanillo in Troncones, Guerrero, Mexico, truly a slice of paradise!

    I watched 250 (hatched that very morning), turtles released into the Pacific ocean, with a glass of red wine, (under the ever watchful eyes of many Pelicans).

    I watched the energetic “home dog” of the “Posada Los Raqueros” consistently outscore the youthful two legged soccer players, (who knew a four legged creature could be such a good and strategic soccer player? I didn’t. Maybe he should play for Mexico in the World Cup!).

    And, most of all…….I looked after me! (Well, I admit it; I had assistance from my loving husband and soul mate).

    As I sit here at my computer in my home office, in 35 degree weather in Queretaro, Mexico, (it is grey and raining, and cold, very cold for this time of year here in Mexico, and why the rain? It is the dry season!!!!Como no!), I cherish the week off. I am reminded that we are only as good as our health permits, (both the body and the mind).

    So today, after about 2 hours at my computer, I got up, put on my rain jacket and went outside, in the cold, and walked for 10 minutes; yup it was refreshing! (I did schedule to do this every hour, but, well, this is only day one back at my routine, I will do better tomorrow).

    A suggestion, DO TAKE TIME OUT FOR YOU, because only YOU can and will take time for you! (Best advice my dearly departed Russian grandmother gave me!)

    Cheers!

    Susan

  4. Hi Rebecca,

    My husband Terry and I have been self employed for the last 24 years. There is always something more we could be doing every day. It is the biggest challenge to make boundaries for ourselves. It really is a boundary issue I think. When am I available to work calls and e-mails. When am I not available? What is my most focussed time of day naturally? What feels like a break? If I had an employee, would I treat them the way I treat myself at work?
    There is no longer any question in my mind that I am more productive when I look after myself; get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, give time for family and friends, organize my day/week month ahead of time to make sure I get a day off each week!
    I could go on, but my lunch break is over 🙂
    thanks Rebecca1
    Joan

  5. So many variables at work with and against anyone involved in the muse business because it is in itself a living organism requiring all the same elements as we need to survive. I attach myself to metaphor as a lifeline each time I feel the bottom giving way forcing me to fly or swim into a new blue, and what I have learned is that it won’t kill, but can be killed if not embraced carefully with respect.

    I am not talking about the people we do the job for, I am talking about the way we do the job. A garden client once told me that if I kept working at the pace I was going I would hurt myself, and I smiled to them and said that most of the illusion was me playing with my skills and having fun within my limits..! The respect of which I speak goes for my view on politics and religion as well, because we don’t really live in the world the world lives in us, so I always check the weather and monitor my dinner before I allow the objective world to impose a comment, which then again is my choice to buy into or not. It’s basically the same principle for everyone, but maybe described a little differently… I can’t help it, I’m a muse monkey myself … lol

    In other words, alining with surrender to a cycle that will move oneself along effortlessly, bringing all the best you are so far, leaving next to nothing behind for a date with your lucky stars … but exhaustion does not get one on this trip..! The first clues of not being in the flow are realizations of lacking the basics; be it food, drink, sleep, and how one spends their tokens buying into the day, let alone frequent visitations from the ‘want wookie ‘ … in short, excess equals mess, need before greed, but balance doesn’t have to be a tightrope underwater..!

    Whenever I find something that goes well with what I’m trying to accomplish, I will whole heartedly assimilate it into my actual being, and know that I have something that will put the ease back into effort like any good magician knows. W.O.R.K. = With Out Rest Kills. I know of two platforms to base any task on, and those are: Love & Fear.
    Through the eyes of love we are all students, and through the eyes of fear we are all teachers. Love is always current, which begets currency, which begets … you know the rest, so I’ll shut up now before I start regretting the weather … lol

    Happy New Decade Rebecca
    p.s. do you live back east now ?

  6. I found your post interesting. If you work from home the computer is always there so it’s hard not to keep working. Life shouldn’t be all work. I am a Canadian and found the film sicko very good. i have also lived in the UK and enjoyed the free health care there too. They all have longer holidays than the US.

  7. Ha, I too saw Sicko over the holidays (can’t recall the network but it was on TV) and as the scene in the French restaurant came up, I yelled ‘Hell-to-the-yeah!’. 🙂

    This gem of a motto of theirs (work to live, rather than our ‘live to work’) is one that I strive for; although to be honest, I’m racked with guilt when I try to follow it. It does make sense though; the rate of burn-out there (and in most European countries) is far lower than in our North American hemisphere. Plus, they seem to be able to sneak in more family time, not to mention their gazillion weeks of vacation a year. I used to work for a Dutch organization, and have lived in Amsterdam many times over the course of the past years. Their work day ends when they leave the office. There is no checking of emails at home, no blackberries (from what I could see, at least). Imagine that! And these people (quite diligent and committed to their jobs) were highly productive, yet they also enjoyed LIFE and knew where and when to draw the distinction between a job and their personal life.

    It all comes down to the productivity output – I would venture a guess that being refreshed and rejuvenated would produce higher quality work, than being on auto-pilot mode, assembly-line work style. But you’re right – a coffee break (with a yummy cherry danish) is in order to ponder this some more.

    Let us know how this works out for you!

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