Breaking things – taking time off and away

The Parisians - rather good at chilling

I haven’t posted since the 4th January, as I’ve been on a break. You probably haven’t even noticed! Yet for many bloggers, this would be a serious no-no. You have, they chime, to keep posting ‘every day’ or ‘at least once a week’. Your blogs have to be a certain length, or include a number of urls or photos to ensure that you maximise your readership.

Well, it is nice to have readers – but to me this is endemic of the impatience of the internet age. I’d rather write posts I enjoy writing at a pace that works for my lifestyle. Frankly, I believe that my readers will appreciate it all the more if my posts are representative of me and my style, rather than hammered into conventional internet shape.

What happened to the writers of old who had to wait four months for a letter from their loved ones if they happened to be sailing far a field? Not much… they waited, and the world kept turning, and wonderful novels, treaties, tomes and philosophies were still written. In fact, they probably had more time to write them, rather than look for interesting urls to pepper their works with.

In my experience, taking a break from things can actually help you be more productive. Perhaps not in the sense of ever-increasing GDP, but if you measure productivity as I do – which is about producing more moments of value – then certainly.

Yet people take less and less holidays despite the labour-saving and timesaving technologies we now have at our fingertips. Americans, poor souls, take an average of 14-16 days holiday a year, in comparison with the ~30 that Europeans get. This article in the Weekly Standard explores a few arguments. However, despite a few promising moments, its conclusion is woefully trite and blinkered by the limitations of traditional, machismo-influenced economics.

Does being progressive really have to mean focusing on progress (although the inherent philological link might make it difficult to break the two)? What is this progress and toil accelerating us towards? At the moment the future seems bleak as a result of our labour, certainly from an environmental perspective. Mother nature would much rather we were all less productive (feel free to use this as an excuse next time you miss a days work!).

So when you find the screen swimming in front of your eyes, or work interfering with your dreams, or stress closing in… take a break. You deserve it, it may even be more productive.

Taking a break is a very powerful tool. It helps you relax. It helps you find solve problems you might not have the time to concentrate on. It enables you to ‘do’ and see more, rather than less – as the last few weeks have proven for me. It helps you watch the world go by, rather than going by the world.

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