Give yourself permission to rest

A friend of mine is working on a side project. He’s got plenty of great contract work keeping him busy during the week and a side project for the rest of the time. Like me, he’s a builder.

As builders our inclination is to build all the time. After all, it’s where we’re most comfortable. We tell ourselves if we just power through one-more weekend, we’ll have completed the product.

And to a certain extent this is true. Pushing through the weekend does get the feature finished. It might even complete our masterpiece. But chances are, pushing through the weekend will be for naught as we’re going to find excuses to continue building. “Just one-more-thing”, we tell ourselves.

My builder friend doesn’t have any plans for the weekend. Which means it’s a prime opportunity to get some time in on the side project. But this weekend he lamented:

“I wish “side-project” didn’t feel so much like “work”. Got nothing to do this weekend but also got no motivation to touch the laptop.”

When builders have no motivation to work on their side projects, a common mistake they make is to ignore it.They sit in front of the computer browsing reddit…err.. waiting for inspiration.

Rather than sitting around and waiting for inspiration, we should walk away. When we walk away we should think about the work that remains. Plan out how we’re going to implement it. Then come back the next day, fully rested, and execute our plan.

Taking these breaks to recharge isn’t just for people who are just getting started. People at the top of their industries recognize the importance of rest and build it into their organizations.

el Bulli is a 3-star restaurant in Spain known for its creativity in food and molecular gastronomy. The chef, Ferran Adria is largely regarded as one of the best chefs in the world. While most restaurants are open 6 or 7 days a week serving the same menu day after day, el Bulli charged its creativity by only opening in seasons. It would open for seven months and close for five months to experiment and recharge.

Stefan Sagmeister, a leader of graphic design, takes a year off every seven years to recharge his creative stores. Before taking his first sabbatical, his work all started to look quite similar. After a year recharging his creative battery, his client work looks completely different and has new life that wouldn’t have been possible without a break.

The habits we form when starting to build our products and businesses are the ones that will shape the rest of the journey. If we don’t allow ourselves to step away and rest for a day when we’re small, we never will, no matter the size.

I’m building Kwoosh, a tool to help you manage your app development. I didn’t work on it this past weekend. I went swimming and read a book instead. It was pretty great. Now, I’m rested and ready to work on Kwoosh some more.