Yes. Working for myself means I make my own schedule and I can choose to take a 20 minute hammock break in the middle of the afternoon with Jack the cat. If you spend your days in a cube or some other indoor box, you might want to throw something at me.
I get it. When I had a real job, I dreamed of a days like these.
What I didn’t know is that there usually aren’t days like these… there are moments like these. And these moments don’t happen because I work from home. They happen because I make them happen.
You can make them happen, too.
Find what works for you.
What kind of break do you want? Maybe a cat in your lap in a hammock sounds like an allergy attack. I know a guy who takes his break in a park and listens to 15 minutes of a meditation recording. Maybe sneaking out for your favorite coffee would get you back to the office with a sly smile. And it doesn’t have to be an hour of ditching work — get up 20 minutes early and fake some leisure while reading the paper, or as cliche as it may be, even closing your eyes for a deep breath can make all the difference.
Make it non-negotiable.
There are days and deadlines when it just isn’t feasible to break away. However… as Tim Kreider states in his NYTimes piece, The ‘Busy’ Trap (a must read), much of our busyness is self imposed (and doesn’t make you cooler). In addition to the obligatory or guilted duties that we use to avoid being with ourselves in downtime, watch for the script “I’m not worth it” and it’s cousin, “I’m too important.”
You brush your teeth, right? (Please say yes.) This is no less essential. What you don’t give attention to goes away. In this case, we’re talking about your sanity. (Phrased in the positive, this is my motto, a’la Mary Oliver, If you love something, you pay attention to it. You love yourself, right? Please say yes.)
Remember that you’ll be the better for it.
Again and again, studies are proving that stepping away from the task at hand gives you more clarity and creativity when you come back to it (think of all the good ideas you have in the shower). Remind yourself of this when the voice of guilt speaks up. Remind anyone else who might question you, as well.
Maybe you just lower your expectations altogether. Jack sure is glad I did.