Discuss: Rest is Best

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Raise your hand if you’ve got the January blues? You’ve returned to work after spending the festive season eating and drinking yourself into a coma and now you’re attempting to be the best, exploring creativity and creating some brilliant work. The reality? You’re staring at a To Do list longer than your desk is high, and the funding application you downloaded three months ago is still sitting on your desktop, unfinished. January is tough on creatives.

Sod the resolutions and motivational pep talks that ‘this year will be better than the last’. What we really need is time off. I’m not talking about the festivities we just had – Christmas with family is not relaxing. What we all need is a holiday.

Earlier this week, Rachel England discussed tiredness being key to creativity, but it’s my belief that in order to be creative we need to take time off. Because creativity doesn’t come easy. For most of us it’s a painful trek up a mountain that appears to have no summit. When the thing that you love to do takes a great effort, both mentally and physically, you need to know your limits.

As a freelancer I jump from project to project, often juggling several jobs, working late into the night and being permanently attached to my phone and checking my emails. Without the luxury of regular work, most freelancers like me have to work hard to keep a roof above our heads, often working a six- or seven-day week every month. Regardless of the amazing projects we’re working on, it’s going to affect our creativity.

It’s difficult. Balancing work against time off is an art in itself, but if you value your creativity you should value your time off. Taking a break from your work can make you more creative. As Dan Bye found when writing a new performance piece, it was when he removed himself from his work he found the answer to unlock his creativity.

Time off doesn’t mean big holidays and lying on beaches, it can be as simple as a walk in a park or meeting up with fellow freelancers to put the world to rights in an afternoon. Anything to put distance between your work and your mind will do you and your creative instincts even more good.

So for me, 2013 is about planning time out as much as planning my work. After three years of no holidays, I’m at burnout. My work has suffered, I’ve ruined friendships (let’s not even talk about relationships…) and I’ve been ill, repeatedly. So I’m going on holiday. I’m going on day trips and drinking tea in the afternoon with a friend. I’m still working damn hard but I’m conscious of taking breaks, too. Let 2013 be the year we find balance, as much as we mine creativity.

Originally published on IdeasTap.