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Create a career you love - take a break!


We all do it don't we - work too hard and forget to take a break? Even when you set yourself up for success, you know, like start your own business so that you can get more "work-life harmony"... Yes, I am just as likely to forget to take a break as you are. And I know you forget to take a break because pretty much all my clients do too.

Having been away for a break last week (with a smattering of work thrown in I confess), I ignited the annual "why has it taken me this long to take a break?" chant in my head.

My good friend and amazing business coach, Karen Murray, advises us to "act from a place of rest". In her Plan/Rest/Act cycle she encourages us to make our plans, then rest safe in the knowledge that plans have been made, and then to act only from a place of restoration. This is so true. Just with one week off, I can feel that this week I am much more capable of getting stuff done and making smart decisions.

Get more "rest" this season

So here is my annual Spring resolve to get more "rest" this season and, being a coach, a little bit of self-analysis as to why I've fallen off the "rest wagon" again...! Will you join me in adding a bit more rest into your working life?

Annual Leave

This is a great place to start.

I used to know someone who talked about their annual leave all year. They literally were always hanging out for their next holiday and reminiscing about their last holiday. Not only did this make them a dull conversationalist, it also used to make me a bit sad that they clearly weren't enjoying their life in between their holidays. If this is you - YOU ARE IN THE WRONG CAREER - call me, now.

However, let's assume that you're not just living for the holidays. Do you take all your annual leave? And, if you do, do you rest or do you take on a project around the house, learn a new skill or build an itinerary around the kids?

First off, so many employed people do not take their full annual leave allowance. This is ridiculous. Five weeks off a year is an absolute MUST, particularly if you work long hours and often at the weekends (yes, I know you do). I am not a fan of these companies that give people "unlimited annual leave". Yes it sounds like a great and benevolent policy but evidence shows that people take even less holiday when offered this unlimited allowance. Not good.

Take action: How much annual leave do you have unallocated? Take out your "reserve days" for emergencies if you have them, now plan what you're going to do with the rest of them. Sit down with your partner if you need to and really make some plans. Not just that big summer holiday, but plan some long weekends and mini-breaks. And, if you have unlimited annual leave, push those boundaries. And, if you run a business, give yourself holidays like you would if you were employed - that's at least 25 days PLUS bank holidays.


OK now this is going to be a bit controversial. I want you to down tools at the weekend. I know, it's impossible. That's what I think too. But here's the thing. When I down tools at the weekend, guess what happens? Nothing bad!

We all need two consecutive days to unwind and recharge for the coming week. If you had more energy in the week, you might get those incidental tasks done that impinge upon your weekend. How about working a bit later on Friday and preparing for the following week before you switch off? This is ideal. If this feels impossible, then allocate a bit of time on Sunday evening to preview your week and get organised. But set some boundaries around it - just one hour 5 - 6 pm for example.

Take action: Think about how you can get more organised to free up your weekends. Do you need to delegate better, push back on certain activities, create boundaries around when you are contactable and when you're not? Can you create a weekly review and preview window when you reflect on the week you've just had and the week that's coming up? A good time for this is either last thing on Friday (ideal) or a one hour window on Sunday. NEVER leave this until Monday morning - that's how you start the week in catch up mode.

Working Day Breaks

So many of my clients are back-to-back booked into Zoom/Teams meetings all day every day. How do you get any "work" done or even go to the loo? You need to build breaks into your working day or else you will not actually be functioning properly.

Take action: here are some ideas for you:

  • Take a 10 minute break every hour. Set your timer for 50 minutes and step away from your desk for 10 minutes. Go outside and breathe, do some exercise, do something creative (sometimes I practise my guitar). This is proven to increase focus so you'll get more done.
  • Take a nap. The movement to instil naps into the working day is growing. Check out my good friend and coaching buddy Cara Moore to find out how to nap like a pro. Absolute top tip - no more than 20 minutes so set your alarm!
  • Take a lunch break. Remember those? What a strange and dated concept. No it's not. It's really healthy. Get away from your desk - absolutely NO online lunch dates. Talking on the phone is fine but, even better, go for a walk. Your afternoon will be much more productive for it.
  • Create buffers around your online meetings. At least 15 minutes to decompress, think and reflect is essential.
  • Decrease the amount of meetings you attend. Do you really need to be in all of those meetings? Most of my clients can descrease their meeting attendance by about 50% if they're really ruthless with their boundaries (aka self care)
  • Finish early or start late. I'm a morning person so I'm regularly logged in by 7 am. That means I can get quite a bit done before lunchtime. In the summer I'm better at finishing early for an occasional dog walk, paddle board or wild swim (new hobby!). My challenge is to make it more regular and not just in the summer. If you're more of an evening person, why not log in a bit later and take advantage of a lie in or do something more gentle in the morning?

There are a myriad more ways you can build breaks into your day - please share yours!

As for me, I resolve to follow my own advice and build in these breaks. I'll keep you posted on my progress and please do keep me posted on yours.

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