My brother asked some questions about taking breaks from work on social media last week and it got me thinking about a few things: Why do I feel like I need to do my own thing? Why do I need to be my own boss? Why go through all the pain and extra work when I can just go and work for someone else and collect a paycheck?
The answer is time. It’s always been time and how I feel about it.
I want to be in control of my time and schedule.
At this point in my life, being in control of my time is the most important thing. I’ve placed a huge measure of success on this one particular point.
Even as a robotics contractor I didn’t feel like I was in charge of my time. It was great experience and I did choose to be there, but once there I can’t just pause things and just take off for an hour or two to deal with something else. I was stuck where I was for 8 to 12 hours a day and a lot of those days were 12 or more just like a normal job. This is not what I actually wanted and had a difficult time dealing with that.
Not working in a time constrained environment and “just doing my own thing” for the past 4 months has taught me some very important things, here’s some of them.
- Time never stops, it always moves forwards. It seems simple but sometimes I forget once it’s gone it’s gone, and you can’t get it back.
- Everything requires a plan, even a simple task.
- I can be as efficient or as lazy as I want to be.
- I can work as hard or as relaxed as I want to.
- Expectations mean a lot more when I set them for myself.
- Failures feel worse, but are extremely good and effective teachers
- Successes feel way better and are more satisfying.
- Focus is everything.
- Working with passion is a requirement for me to be happy.
- There is no one else to learn from while doing the work.
- I need to pay attention to my stress level at any given moment and take a break from what I’m working on.
That last point is what my Brothers’ questions were all about. Here are questions and my answers to each.
I’d like to answer my brothers’ questions, but I’d like to preface by saying that taking breaks from your work is 100% necessary for long-term productivity, efficiency, quality, accuracy, and the repeatability of work; to have a good sense of wellbeing; to have job satisfaction; and in managing your own level of stress.
Some tasks are simply more physically and/or mentally demanding than others. Some require you to concentrate while others can be done while whistling a tune.
The typical ridged break schedule standard doesn’t take the needs of the individual into consideration on a per task basis.
On to the questions.
How would you describe your work habits? I tend to plan in advance for any mentally or physically challenging or a volume of tasks. Simpler less demanding tasks, not so much.
When time is constrained and I need to be hyper-focused on a task, I need to get myself into the right state to do this.
I know I can’t be in this state for more than a couple hours at any given time and sometimes what I’m doing is far more demanding than I had anticipated, and I have to break up these types of tasks into short bursts throughout the day or just schedule them on different days to control my level of stress.
Do you forget or refuse to take breaks? I personally don’t like being interrupted while I’m hyper-focused on a task. I’d rather work until the task I’m working on is either complete or I feel like I need to leave it for awhile and come back to it later.
When I am doing less challenging tasks, I try to work as efficiently as possible so that I can work at a pace that doesn’t put too much stress on me so that taking a break isn’t required.
When I worked for someone else, there were often times that I would forget to take my breaks if I was focused on my task, but when I needed or wanted to be somewhere else other than work, I never missed a break.
How can you incorporate breaks into your workday to enhance productivity? The point at which strain starts to be felt comes at different times for different people and needs to be monitored and addressed on a per minute basis, not on an hourly basis when there is a scheduled break time. The minute you feel the affects of the stress you’re under, it’s time to take a walk.
It is very important for me to change my pattern of thinking into something that is completely different than the task I’m working on when I feel like I need to take a break. It’s not enough to just change the subject matter and not the thought process as well.
For example, if were writing and got stuck on the point or I just felt the effects of the mental stress, I’d go do something else that’s completely different: like doing one of the chores that needs to be done around the house or a task out in the garage or make a phone call or send an email.
Changing my thought process, location, and physiology is very important to ‘taking a break’ from the task at hand.
These three things is what actually makes all the different in managing stress while working.
In closing, controlling my time and my level of stress are the two big reasons why I to just do my own thing to make my own way in the world, but these two things always seem at odds with each other.
Being the boss is usually the most stressful gig you can have and it certainly isn’t for everyone. So if managing my stress level is at the top of the list of the important things I have to do for my health right now, I think I might have more interesting things to think and to write about.
Thanks for reading (or listening to) today’s blog.
Have a great day!