Taking a break from work is refreshing. But the real power of a good break is in the way you get back to work.
Whether you are away for a weekend, a vacation, or simply overnight, the way you get back to work matters.
If you simply go back and pick up where you left off, you’re almost certainly missing a huge opportunity.
Because each time you get back to work, you have a chance to use your time away to make the next part of your work better.
Yes, time off gives you mental and physical rest. And that’s mightily important.
But each break also gives you a chance to refresh your perspective. And that might be even more important.
With each return to work, you have a chance to re-consider things from a higher vantage point.
You have a chance to adjust your strategy, and to leverage or create new momentum in interesting and useful ways.
And nothing scares away the work blues more than the sense of enthusiasm that comes with finding a better way to do things. Because you are finding a source of intrinsic motivation for yourself, even if the task at hand is ho-hum.
If you’re a bricklayer, then by all means get back to work exactly where you left off. Repeat the steps in an orderly and efficient manner until the job is done.
This approach works great for highly structured work. Most of the time.
But even if your task is processing structured transactions, you might have the opportunity to devise new approaches.
Perhaps you would realize that shifting around the spreadsheet, or doing things in a different order, or maybe even at a different time of day, might make it easier. Or more efficient. Or otherwise helpful.
You might even spot ways the process, forms, or procedures could be improved.
There’s always a better way to lay the bricks, at least in some respect. And an ideal time to consider that is when you’re returning to work fresh.
This might mean that you’re thinking about work during your transition. That’s ok. A break is great, but you don’t need to push it to the brink of your return to work.
Don’t work so hard at taking a break.
Of course, a lot of your work is probably unstructured. Things like writing a report or running several email threads or working your way through some large project.
Here, the work is about devising a structure. You are literally figuring out how to approach the work as part of the work itself.
This is the best area to continually re-examine, re-consider, and re-approach.
Maybe you will find a better way to structure that report. Or a clever way to bring a monotonous email thread to a close. Maybe even a new strategy for tackling that big project.
If you’re open to it. If you aren’t stuck in the mechanics of doing, doing, doing. If you think about your work as you come off of your break.
This might take a little bit of re-thinking your break.
A little more integration
You may want to relax your rules about break time and work time. Just like it’s ok to take a break while you’re working, it’s ok to think about work while you’re relaxing.
The separation isn’t as clean as we might like to think. You are an integrated person. Sometimes, the less compartmentalizing you do, the better.
After all, there are plenty of lessons from life that can inform your work. And there are plenty of lessons from work that can inform your life.
The key is to keep making progress on all fronts. To continue to grow and gain momentum and build enthusiasm. To keep making things better and finding new approaches. To find joy in the process.