We’re brought up to believe that the harder you work, the better your life will be. I totally subscribe to that theory, so much so that I forget to take breaks. It seems counter-intuitive but (and I’ve learned the hard way), unless you take regular breaks throughout your day, at the end of each week and every couple of months, you can wind up being less productive and definitely less creative.
The only way I get anything done at all is to “bite off more than I can chew and chew like hell” but no-one can do this forever. Have you ever booked a vacation only to get sick on day 2? That means you’re not taking enough breaks.
If you work in a creative field, you also need to recharge your batteries by giving yourself time to think, by seeing different sights, hearing different sounds, and by taking yourself out of your regular daily routine.
Author Steven Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance, The War of Art) takes a tape recorder with him when he hikes after finishing writing each day, because he knows that as his mind empties, solutions to his work will somehow come to him. He records each thought and that’s what he starts working on the following day.
If you work in an office, eat your lunch outside so you’re at least getting some vitamin D. Steve Jobs used to take ‘walking meetings’. He would walk around his neighborhood or outside his office building. I work from home and have a very appreciative dog and a very pretty walking path right by my house. Even a five minute stroll every two or three hours can clear your mind and, according to my chiropractor, prevent back and neck issues.
One day I was writing at a friend’s house. She was working on a novel at the time as well. We took a break, walked outside, found a patch of grass and slipped off our shoes so we could stand directly touching planet Earth. We noticed the police outside a nearby house, dealing with some sort of domestic problem. Sadly, we figured we would seem less weird if we were staring at another family’s crisis, than what we were really there for, getting some direct inspiration from this big ball we all live on. So be weird and take some breaks! Your back, neck, and work will benefit.