When you suck at taking days off


There’s a big part of me that dreams of weekends, holidays and furloughs. Today (apparently) is the first day of taking days off. I’ve chosen to take 3 days off in front of a weekend. It’ll be the longest break I have had since moving house and the longest non-committal break in 3 years.

Yet here I am. I am once again back at the computer and writing.

Because ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I suck at taking time off.

I’ve been in desperate need of rejuvenation for a while now. If I were a Sim from Sim City, my personality bars wouldn’t be happy. You’ve have seen my sleep and general happiness quotient ebbing towards the red zone for a little while now. I’ve had enough petrol in the tank to deal with day to day life. But beyond that, life has been a little tricky.

So why now, when I have cleared the decks so I can have some rest am I at my laptop writing?

Let’s see if we can work this out together, shall we?

It’s either activity or complete relaxation and never anything between

My favourite relaxation activities are reading, watching TV shows or taking a bath. Second to that is sitting somewhere with a journal planning work stuff or writing poetry. Which way that goes is usually up to the beverage imbued and the general mood. I’ve already had my coffee at the cafe (work related writing there). And have plans to his some live jazz tonight over a whisky (with poet’s beret firmly on head).

It’s not the right time to retreat to bed with a book. I only have 3 episodes of a show to go, so I am saving them for tomorrow and the potential of a middle aged hangover. (You know the kind. You’ve had 2 drinks. But because you’re up past 10pm, you feel like you did when you bathed in a bathtub of liquor in your 20s.)


Right now, I am in the dead zone. I tried for a haircut but they’re busy until tomorrow.

So here I am. Portishead in the background, tapping away.

I’ve trained myself to be active when I am not dead still. A great skill to have when the work day is busy but terribly annoying when you’re on holidays alone.

Constant connectivity is the nature of our lives

I sent invoices this morning, tidied up emails and fussed a little before heading out. I could write this off as FOMO and make some big deal about how I can’t detox from the internet.

But the truth is, I want next week to be less stressful then it has been.

When your work involves a lot of responsibility and a large workload, you tend to squeak in us much busy work and tidying as you can. I need to get paid. I have to ensure my clients know I am not glued to email this week. And I have to setup a reasonable work schedule next week.

At the same time, I also have to look at my business and where it’s headed. Strategy is always done best when the work isn’t calling from the Inbox. So I plan and I stock up my social media. I make sure the paperwork gets done and play a little catch up.

When I say I am taking a break for 3 days to enjoy myself, what I’m saying is I want to get some stuff done for me without having to worry about other people.

Writing is my relaxation

My partner has his music and his martial arts. He has a bad day or a bad week, he doesn’t get stressed. He heads to rehearsal or rumbles with someone.

When I need comfort, perspective and the feeling of happiness only activity can bring, I write. It resets the clock. It gives me perspective when I’m angered by issues and it allows me free expression of my thoughts.

Writing is helping people. It’s my super secret super power. And that’s a super power that not only drives me to help others, it helps me too.

Sometimes though, I write for people and it gets sliced and diced. Or like any person, I find it hard to be motivated, to get to the process and get the job done. So writing, which I love to do, becomes like homework to me.

Nothing clears that blockage then giving me the opportunity to write without marketing and SEO wanting a slice of the pie.

The reality of finding it hard to relax

Part of understanding your limitations is recognising healthy behaviour and when it’s detrimental.

For me, I know I need stillness on occasion. I would be a fool to think I could work long hours, too many days and every day without realising it impacts my ability to work. I used to kid myself I could, then I realised I couldn’t.

This I believe is a common problem. Many of us don’t want to admit that stress has an opportunity cost. And that we all need time to play and be creative on occasion.

What it highlights moreover is that choice is an intrinsic part of doing our best. Speak to any frazzled parent or overworked CEO and you’ll find the common thread. Meeting the demands of others and chasing the nirvana that is the completed TO DO LIST creates stress.

Life in balance, taking a break, having a holiday, taking time out, creative play. These are the buzzwords that litter productivity articles and stress reduction tips. Rarely do they get the crux of the matter.

You need freedom to choose what you are doing. You need to be able to squeeze a “me moment” into your day. You need to choose to do things that aren’t to satiate the desires of people around you. A moment unsullied by the opinions of others. And is for you and you alone.

So that is why I am writing right now. In that big slab of time I have chosen to take off. I have done it not because of deadline or pressure. Not because someone else needed it from me.

But because I wanted to.

And it’s made me feel happy and relaxed to do so.

Perhaps I don’t suck at taking time off at all?

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