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Taking Breaks – All Kinds of Breaks

lotusUsually when someone talks about taking a break from work, I think about 15 minutes or so – a short break.  Those of us who spend a good deal of our work time in front of a computer do well to take a few minutes every hour or so away from that infernal machine that I both love and hate.

If the break is going to be a day or two or even longer I tend to categorize it as a vacation.

I recently stumbled into another way to take some time just for me, and that’s a mediation retreat that meets once or twice a day, and leaves some time during the day for me to spend as I choose. In my case, it’s a Stages of the Path retreat at the Vajrarupini Buddhist Center here in San Diego.

The pattern of time is 7 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.; 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m. That leaves a good portion of the day available for work, living, naps, shopping, etc.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a Buddhist retreat, or even a spiritual retreat to make this pattern work as a real break or change from a more typical writing schedule. The idea of two hours in the morning and an hour and a half in the afternoon for five days devoted to something that’s quite different from writing and totally self-supporting is a workable plan for many people. And if you can’t devote that much time, any portion of such a schedule can work well for you.

I’ll be glad to get back to my regular schedule next week; I can tell already that I’ll feel even more refreshed and renewed than I do now.

How do you give yourself breaks from your writing/editing work?


Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Hannah

    I have a full time job and I’m editing a novel, so I’m working on it almost all the time. I work on it at lunchtime (I haul my laptop to work), when things are slow on my flash drive and nights and weekends. One more pass, then through my beta reader and I can begin querying.

    This is a timely post because I’m about ready to rip all my hair out! Thank you all for the ideas about taking breaks. Usually I just play on the Internet (right now checking my email, and found this post). I need to get out of the house!

    • Anne

      it’s amazing what even a minute or two of stretching will do.

  • Anne: My group blog writing is at flashfictionpost.wordpress.com. (It’s really, really easy to set up a wordpress blog.) flashfictionpost is pretty much dead in the water–my friend stopped posting, and I’ve cut back to just occasional chapters of “Tenirax–Mad Poet of Zaragoza.” My schedule is: get up, turn on the computer, catch up on mail, then write until 11 or so. Repeat in afternoon. Stepchat is my 12th step venue, and so is YahooAnswers, to a lesser extent. I’ll have to set up Workrave to tell me when to get back to work! Be well.
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.

  • I’m a great break-taker, Anne. That’s what I do best, in fact. I’m seriously thinking of setting up a computer with no web access so I can just commune with my own profound thoughts and get them on paper, instead of being blown off course for hours, pursuing interesting links. I try to get 4 hours a day of actual writing, broken into two sessions. Here are some of my diversions and persons from Virtual Porlock:

    going for a walk, 15 to 30 minutes per day
    visit to small local chapel, ~15 minutes + travel
    stepchat.com, 15 minutes, twice a day, or as needed.
    yahoo answers, Dream Analysis ~15 minutes
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/ ~20 minutes
    writing workshop correspondence, ~20 minutes
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.

    • Anne

      A group blog… how are you liking that Jorge… do you work to a schedule?
      Love your list – and stepchat? You betcha 🙂

  • Anne:

    Great post, and you’re in good company. Just this week, the Wall Street Journal ran a report that showed that working less can mean doing more (by way of Lifehacker). Taking breaks allows me to focus my concentration better when I’m working.

    To help me do that, I use a great free application called Workrave (workrave.org). At regular intervals, a window pops up to remind me to take a break from the computer. Very highly recommended.

    .-= Mark Keating´s last blog ..Exxon Invests in Biofuel from Algae Production =-.

    • Anne

      Downloading workrave now… will do a review sometime. Thanks

  • I find it difficult to schedule regular breaks – but I do always make time for gym visits. I have also started to take instrument lessons again, and as a result I practice more often and specifically break for that. But like you, Anne, anything 2 days or longer feels like a vacation and not a break to me!
    .-= Benjamin Hunting´s last blog ..Zune Woes – A Summer Of Hassle =-.

    • Anne

      Although I’m loving this meditation schedule I’m also looking forward to its end… today is the last day. I’ve missed going to the gym big time.

  • Despite my love for writing, if I don’t take some time to walk away from it every day, I burn out about once a year and have to really step away for a more significant amount of time.

    When I take a break, I read, I run, I write a letter to my sister, I snuggle with my dogs or cats. Sometimes I ever write in my journal, because that’s an entirely different kind of writing.

    • Anne

      All makes sense to me, JoAnna – although don’t tell my kitty I understand snuggling with dogs 😉

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