I announced I was taking a break from blogging three weeks ago. Not only did I stop blogging, but I also stopped reading blogs and Twitter for a couple of weeks. It was wonderful.
Honestly, I had no choice. I’ve been pushing myself to write a lot more this year and found myself depleted. Looking back, I mismanaged my energy and ran out of gas. I would have been far better off taking pacing myself so that a break wasn’t necessary.
Still, I’m glad I took a break. It gave me some needed perspective. Three weeks isn’t a long time to step away from blogging, but it’s long enough to learn a few lessons. Here are three.
The Importance of Rest
According to Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, we manage energy, not time. As we face increasing demands, we tend to put in longer hours. This takes a toll on us physically, mentally, and emotionally. This leads to lower productivity and engagement. If we’re not careful it can even lead to burnout.
Schwartz argues that, unlike time, energy is a renewable resource. We must therefore intentionally engage in practices that renew our energy.
I learned this, again, on my break from blogging. Before my break, my productivity was low. My sermons were taking longer to craft. My writing was becoming dry. By disengaging, even for a short time, I found that my energy began to come back.
The closer we get to burnout, the longer it takes to recover. I was headed in a bad direction, but just a few weeks were enough for me to move closer to where I should be. I should have taken a rest sooner.
The Unimportance of Almost Everything
Before I left for my break, I planned to keep up with a small amount of work. Upon the advice of a trusted mentor, I abandoned everything. I didn’t check any emails. I didn’t read any blogs or tweets. I didn’t log into Facebook, and I didn’t do any work.
As someone who’s usually on top of emails and blog posts, I was reminded that I don’t always need to be. I sometimes struggle with the pressure to react rather than to focus on priorities. While reacting is important some of the time, it can never take the place of more important things: nurturing one’s walk with God, the ministry of Word and prayer, family, and more. I must prioritize the things that matter most, and treat everything else as relatively unimportant.
It’s a sad thing to have an empty inbox and an empty soul.
The Power of Workflow
One of the books I dipped into while away is Master Content Marketing by Pamela Wilson. Wilson argues that writers should take a lazy approach. One of the keys: to create content over several days. She suggests a four-day content creation system:
Day 1: Build Your Article Backbone.
Day 2: Fill in the Details.
Day 3: Polish and Prepare to Publish.
Day 4: Publish, Promote, and Propagate.
As someone who was getting tired of going from first draft to final product in a short time, I needed a system like this. I’m going to experiment with this in the coming weeks to see if it helps take the pressure off as Wilson promises. I’m also going to try to spread out my sermon preparation throughout the week a bit more.
Going forward, I plan on taking more frequent breaks. I already knew that skimping on vacation is a bad idea, but this year I really learned it.
I’m glad to have taken a break, but I’m also glad to be back again, a little wiser, and a lot more refreshed.