Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Importance of Taking Breaks

As regular readers of this blog will know, every year in November I take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and that I go for insane word counts – in 2011 I wrote 150k words. Needless to say that, even with taking two weeks off work during November, it left me feeling pretty tired. On top of doing Nano, I also have a full time job, and I’m doing an Open University course. (If nothing else, I’m certainly keeping myself busy...)

It always takes me a while to recover from NaNoWriMo. This year I didn’t have much of a respite after November. I had to go straight back to work on 1st December, and not long after that I had an Open University assignment to complete and submit. So I was feeling pretty tired during December.

At the end of December we have the traditional holiday period, but I didn’t take any leave from work then, and so I was working throughout the period, although I did have some time off on the public holiday’s for Christmas and New Year’s. However, I’m still feeling pretty tired.

It’s now early January, and, as I post this, most people have been back at work for a week, and have what’s known as January Blues – a long month before their next pay day, and a long time before their next break from work, with around 3 months or so before Easter. However, I don’t have the January Blues...

I’ve got just two more weeks of work left, and then I’m going to be taking two weeks off. And during those two weeks off I won’t be doing any work of any description – I won’t be doing the day job, I won’t be doing any Open University work, and I won’t be doing any writing. I will just be getting some much needed rest.

I do this pattern every year as 27th January is my birthday, and I like having some time off for it. But these two weeks off are vital for me, as I’m usually exhausted just before I take my leave. (Last year was particularly tough – I’d written 200k for Nano, was doing several Open University courses at once, and got incredibly busy at work shortly before I went on leave.) After my two weeks off I come back to work feeling a bit more alive.

And that’s why it’s important to take breaks. If you keep on going non-stop, trying to do a million and one things, eventually you’ll break. If I didn’t take a break I could end up making mistakes at work, get poor marks for my Open University assignments, and produce writing of a very poor standard. Sometimes it’s just good to stop for a bit, let the batteries recharge, and allow the brain a bit of a break whilst it sorts everything out.

Beyond birthday celebrations I don’t have anything specific planned for my time off at present. I’m just going to get a lot of rest!

This also means that I’ll also be taking a short break from this blog (I’m quite strict with myself about not doing any sort of work during my two week break). But there’s still one more post to go for this blog before I take my break! Fortunately, most of that one is already written...

So, yes, for me January is largely about winding down before I take my birthday break. It’s an important landmark for me, and every year I look forward to it...

Next Week: 33 Karl Facts...

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