God made us to work, but he also designed us to rest. That first part I do pretty well . . . but that second part? To be honest, for me it's a challenge. What about you? How are you at taking a break? And do we even need breaks?
Yes! We do. We most definitely do.
The (real) rest we need
Breaks from work not only help us maintain our health, sanity, and relationships, but they make us better at our jobs. Furthermore, God ordained rest. One of the first things we learn in the Bible about God is that he worked, then rested (Genesis 2:1–3). In the same way, God made our bodies to require sleep and our souls to require quiet reflection.
I'm talking real time off here, ladies. There's no such thing as a "working vacation"—that's just work, in a different location!
If you have limited time off like me, you really need to make it count. But it's not always as simple as marking your calendar and setting your "out of office" automated e-mail reply (although those things do help). You can't control everything and there's always a chance that a true work "emergency" could crop up while you're on vacation that necessitates your attention. That said, not every work problem is an emergency—not even the urgent ones. Not every work problem needs your attention. You need to be able to distinguish between the two, and so do the people on your team.
4 Tips for taking a break
You can set yourself up for successful rest if you choose your time wisely, lay the proper groundwork, communicate your intentions clearly, and set personal boundaries on your use of free time. This year I actually managed to take a real, life-breathing break from work to be with my family in Oregon. Here's how I managed it:
1. Be wise about timing. I picked a time when I knew that I had no board meetings or speaking engagements. I also made sure there were no new major projects launching at Cassidy Turley or 4word. I blocked the time out well in advance and made sure to protect this time while the rest of my calendar filled up.
2. Lay the groundwork. About two weeks before I took off, I e-mailed the entire 4word team, letting everyone know the dates that I would be taking off and providing a deadline (a few days before I left) for the team to send me anything that needed my attention or approval before I left.
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Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.