You know what’s great about living the dot com lifestyle? You are in complete control of your work schedule, your work environment, and the contents of your work. You can work when you want, where you want, on whatever you want. And do you know what is the worst part about living the dot com lifestyle? There are no boundaries. No rules. Not really.
Work When You Want?
A more traditional office job might have you work the same 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday schedule, week in and week out. Your lunch break starts exactly at noon and it last for precisely one hour. And when that clock strikes five in the early evening, you’re officially done for the day and you don’t even need to think about work until 9 o’clock the following morning.
But of course, even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat. That’s probably why you’re reading this blog, and that’s probably why you’re interested in running your own successful online business. I get it. I totally get it. But if you have the same kind of work ethic and sense of obligation that I do, then you may be all too familiar with this trap of “work when you want.”
Because you CAN work at ANY time, you might feel like you MUST work ALL the time. There’s also an opportunity to do something, so you feel like you should do that something.
Alternating Work and Breaks
You might remember when I said you can improve your productivity and focus by utilizing the Pomodoro technique. This instructs you to take a five-minute break for ever 25-minute work session. And then a longer break after you’ve completed a few work sessions.
In order for this technique to work, you need to take a break. A real one. I don’t know about you, but I find this a lot easier said than done. How do I end up spending most of my breaks? I’ll peruse Facebook, watch a YouTube video, catch up on some blogs… but none of these are real breaks. My brain is still being actively engaged in something and it’s not getting the rest it needs.
Now, I fully realize that this runs counter to what I asserted about finding ways to work when you’re not working. In that piece, I said how your leisure time can also function as work time, improving your overall productivity by squeezing more into less time. That’s still true, to some degree.
Back Away From the Computer
But you really do need to take real breaks. Like you actually have to step away from your computer and not actively engage your brain in some activity.
But you still need to take a break. Get up and do some stretches. For those longer breaks, maybe take a walk around the park. Or reconnect with nature by hiking a local trail. Or reconnect with some friends over a three-hour lunch. Just don’t do any actual work.
The Empty Vessel
As counter-intuitive as it might sound, these real breaks will actually allow you to work smarter and work harder when you do return to your computer. You mind will be refreshed with renewed vigor, ready to focus better on the task at hand. When you overwork your brain, the quality of your work suffers and you become a victim of decision fatigue. A rested brain is an engaged brain.
Don’t feel guilty about it. Yes, you’ve got to hustle. But before you can hustle, you need to recharge those batteries.