Taking a Break: Results

One of my favorite shots from my photo walk in Pasadena. 

One of my favorite shots from my photo walk in Pasadena. 

This year, I did something I haven’t done in a while; I took a week off in the summer. It’s been 5 years since I’ve taken a week off during the summer, and to be honest, it felt pretty good. I didn’t do anything much—had lunch with my friend Greg, wandered around Pasadena taking picture of cool houses, spent an evening with fellow artists at a Grove Gathering—but it still felt great to let my mind unwind for a bit.

When I talk with other technical artists, we all seem to share some fairly common traits, one of which is that we work too hard, too long. Last summer, I project-managed a major renovation, which caused me to work 54 days straight (and long days at that) with a single day off. Even though I took 2 weeks off after that, it was several months before I felt “normal” again. I don’t recommend working like that, by the way.

It’s pretty rare that I take actual time off; even when I do take a vacation, I’m typically still writing, researching or doing other tech related stuff. This time, I didn’t do that. I pre-scheduled three weeks worth of posts so I didn’t have to do much on the blog. We still did the podcasts, but those are just fun.

Mostly, I read, slept, watched movies and just enjoyed down time, clearing my mind. One of the books I’ve been reading has really been challenging my thinking, and that caused me to spend more time than usual in prayer (I’ll be talking about that more in a few weeks). Another book was just fun, Hackers—Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy.

But here’s the payoff; I actually feel refreshed and ready to start back to work now. As I write this, I’m on my last day of “vacation,” though technically, it’s my normal day off. I’m actually energized and ready to spin up and get some work done. 

I talk to a lot of TDs who are just tired all the time. I normally don’t realize how tired I am until I take a week off and shut off all the alarms and see how late I sleep (one day I slept until 10 AM—I haven’t done that in years!). We need time to decompress. Our jobs are higher stress and more taxing than we think they are, and we need to shut down for a while. 

To me, it’s a bit of a joke that summer is slow for everyone in ministry; it may well be for some people, but for tech’s, it’s typically just as busy—if not busier—than the rest of the year. It took a lot of self-control to actually take the week off, and not get involved with the projects I knew were underway at the church. But I’m glad I did. I actually feel good right now!

So I encourage you to do the same. There are still a few weeks of summer left. See about taking one off. If you can’t make it this year, put it on the calendar for next year. Take the week off when the kids are out of school so you don’t have to get up early anyway. Disconnect from your job (auto responders are great), shut off the Twitter feed, and just be for a while. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you feel. 

Shoot, I’m even excited to get back to writing again! So look out; lots of ideas coming your way.

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