During the first two summers in college, I totally [and deservingly] vegged out. I didn’t have an internship or a job. Instead, I watched movies, painted, and hung out with friends. But oddly enough, what I remember most about those summers are the daily to-do lists I made for my so-called tasks:
- Go to the gym
- Watch a movie
- Lay out in the sun
Maybe I was so used to making lists to get through the rigor of the school year that I didn’t know how to function any other way. Or perhaps I was so used to studying that I needed to use a productive tool such as list-making in order to feel like my fun was a good use of time. After all, we’re supposed to be—or at least feel—productive all of the time.
Fall is a time when kids go back to school after a long summer break, and adults return to the grind of work after vacations and early Fridays. But how can we get back to anything if we never really take a break from it to begin with?
When I started my first job right after I graduated from college, the CEO encouraged the new employees to use all of our vacation days. “You’re not going to get brownie points from your boss for sending an email at 10pm or not taking a vacation all year,” he said. We’d become exhausted and resentful. Instead, we’d do our jobs much better if we disconnected here and there, so he stressed the importance of taking breaks from work.
When you’re working hard, breaks feel more fulfilling. And by taking breaks, we refresh ourselves for our work and improve our focus. By maintaining a productive/life balance, we can be both more productive and more lively. So here I am, the girl who makes to-do lists comprised of leisurely activities and the marketing manager of a company that’s goal is to foster productivity, recommending that you take a break. It’s really important, and it takes practice.
So this fall, make it a point to take a break. Check out a fall festival, go apple picking, drive somewhere to see the leaves change. You’ll be way more productive if you do.