Archive | March, 2015

Taking Time Off

8 Mar


Written while on mini-vacation in Staunton VA.

Many of you have noticed that I haven’t blogged in some time – six months to be exact. This mostly occurred out of necessity rather than by design.

First, an end of the year holiday mixer evolved into a Makers Market that required extensive planning, marketing and coordination. 20 makers and 200 attendees – I call it a success!

Then, immediately following the holidays, I launched into planning, marketing and coordinating the 10th Annual Veterans in Business Conference ( that will be held on March 26th.

Add to that a steady schedule of teaching, counseling, workshops and panel appearances; and I soon realized there weren’t enough hours in the day – or the year. In 2014, I took a total of 8 days of vacation (mostly long weekends) and 3 sick days. It was time to re-think the whole work/life balance concept (more on that in a future blog article).

It’s easy to fall into the trap of overdoing it – because few ambitious achievers understand one of the biggest secrets of productivity – the refueling principle. It comes down to this: You get more done quicker when you step back and recharge the brain and body. Studies show that performance increases after breaks of all durations: from extended vacations down to microbreaks of 30 seconds.

Besides health and mental sanity, there are practical reasons for taking time off (as if health and mental sanity are not practical reasons). But I’m referring to creativity and the ability to think deeply about problems. Downtime allows the brain (specifically, the subconscious) to work on ideas and make connections with other concepts that our conscience brain would otherwise be unable to make.

In one of my favorite novels – A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway writes about his creative process: “I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day.” He elaborates by stating that he “…learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything…”

In essence, he was allowing the creative well to refill…as should we all.

Watch this great Ted Talk on The Power of Time Off: