Diaries of a Workaholic: Be Productive, Take a Break


Week 406 (brendan@brendanbarca.com)

Here's your weekly dose of Fuel Your Mind Friday where I share business building ideas, lifestyle design hacks, and inspirational content to help you thrive in your work and find purpose in your life.

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PSA: My wife, Pema Sherpa, and I have another blog called The Mindful Minute! Check it out.

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DIARIES OF A WORKAHOLIC: BE PRODUCTIVE, TAKE A BREAK

I'm a workaholic.

Most of the time this works to my advantage. Week after week I grind it out, despite business outcomes. If things are going my way, I work. If things aren't going my way, I work. This "rain or shine" discipline has led to tremendous results in my career.

But, as I've learned, there is a price to pay for this "grind it out at all costs" mentality. The price I've paid, time and time again, is burnout. I've burnt out in entry-level jobs, sales jobs, and as a business owner.

Just last month I went through a particularly dry spell of prospecting. For the better half of two days, based on a lack of incoming emails, it felt like I'd never make a sale again. On a normal week, this type of thing wouldn't bother me. I'd just double my efforts and surge onward. But, when I delivered two solid presentations and my mood didn't lift, I knew something was off.

It was a taste in my mouth I had felt before. It was that sour taste of burnout.


When I realized what I was going through, I realized I had a choice to make. I could either ignore my feelings and get back to smacking away at the keyboard or I could entertain the unthinkable idea of taking a break. It was Wednesday afternoon and I looked out the window. Spring had started to peek its head out in New York. Taking a run sounded nice but it would be at the cost of hitting my daily goals.

As I looked out the window and then back at my computer screen, debating what to do, I noticed something. There was a shift in my mood depending on where I looked. When I looked at my computer screen, I felt my chest tighten and a sense of revulsion build inside me. Whereas when I looked out the window, I felt my chest loosen again and a slight sense of hope.

I thought to myself for a moment. What choice did I have? I closed my laptop and grabbed my sneakers. It was 2:30 PM on a Wednesday and I was doing the opposite of what I had taught my disciplined self to do. I was taking a break.


A few days later, reflecting back, it seems silly that taking a break was such a difficult decision for me. But, upon further inspection, I can see that productivity is my addiction. The funny thing, however, is that taking a break was actually the more productive thing to do at that moment. It was as if I pressed a reset button and could start fresh.

We tell ourselves that working is productive, but isn't resting just as productive? Surely, you can't have one without the other. As American writer, Anne Lamont said, "almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."

If you run your computer for too long you'll notice that it starts to slow down and underperform. Well, the same is true for you.

The next time you feel burnout setting in, listen to your body and take that counterintuitive break.

Unplug yourself. Then plug back in.

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Thanks for subscribing,

- Brendan

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brendanbarca.com

p.s. If you're a longtime subscriber you may have noticed this is a repost from a few years back. As a new father juggling a lot sometimes I need to repurpose old content. Thanks for your support!

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