Why You Need to Take a Break and Work on That Personal Project

I was having a tough week. Long hours working through some pressing issues. To the point I was even dreaming about work. So basically no mental rest day or night.

Now that’s not to say I wasn’t taking breaks. My evening routine almost always consists of spending some time playing with the kids and spending time as a family. And usually some time working out as well after the kids are in bed.

But those breaks were never really enough to help me turn the page. The stress of work was ever-present and really wearing me down. I could see it affecting everything, but felt almost helpless since I had to get things done.

Finally, toward the end of the week, I just couldn’t get a personal project off of my mind. I had hoped to work on it earlier but decided it needed to wait until I had a better handle on the more urgent things. But there it was, nagging at my mind. And on Friday I finally gave in. I took a break for an hour or two to put together some creative ideas I had and work on some graphic design.

It took a little convincing. I kept thinking how I should wait until I had more done to work on anything personal. But once I was into it enough there was no looking back. I became fully immersed and lost track of myself for a little while. And that was exactly what I needed.

The stress of the entire week was gone. I realized how much I had been spinning my wheels on work without making a lot of progress. I had been too stressed and my mind too clouded to be effective at problem solving or really any creative thinking. And all it took was taking my focus off of work for a while and getting out of my own head.

I’m sure this type of scenario happens to almost all of us. Too busy to take focus off of work so we spin and spin until we burn out. I even know the signs in myself and still fall victim to it. I know that I should take some time to work on side projects to help clear my head and sometimes I just don’t do it.

But those creative side projects can really be the fuel to keep you sane. They’re invigorating and inspiring. They aren’t just distractions from urgent work, but the key to actually being able to do good work. Being able to “get out of your own head” for a while not only helps clear your head, but also makes solving those work problems much easier.

So hopefully I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’ve hit major roadblocks and can’t seem to solve problems as effectively. But then, that tends to be the problem to begin with, isn’t it?

So what do you do to clear your head? What are your personal projects and creative outlets?