Over the summer, I took two weeks off for vacation. Two glorious weeks! Before I left, it had occurred to me that I hadn’t taken time off from work in about 14 months. When my clients keep me busy with such great work, I end up not taking the time. Yes, it’s hard to step away — sometimes it feels impossible even — but it’s necessary.
I know there are a lot of marketers who are so busy preparing for January launches that they aren’t taking much time over the holidays. And that’s OK; December doesn’t have to be a time to recharge for everyone. Maybe you choose to recharge around the time of your birthday. Or maybe you need to base your vacation and recharge time on your work or school schedule or kids’ schedules or a time that’s otherwise significant to you.
It doesn’t matter when you take the time off to recharge. But it does matter that you do. After all, consider all the things you can do with that time that will enhance your creativity.
1. Gain new perspectives, and experience new things.
On vacation this year, I had opportunities to have conversations with family members I don’t see often. I learned things I wouldn’t have learned if we weren’t sitting face-to-face talking. My husband and I took our 4-year-old son to sightsee in a different part of the country. I witnessed him experience something new and respond to it. His world opened up. And mine did too.
And on our flights and in the evenings, I read a book. Sure, I can read when I’m home, but it’s often too easy to get sucked into work or cleaning the kitchen or running errands and miss the opportunity to truly engage with new material.
These new perspectives and experiences filter into your creative work — often in ways you don’t even expect.
2. You can take time to train.
I sign up for a lot of webinars all year round. But if a project has a hard deadline or I’m called into a meeting, webinars and other training opportunities are often the first things I let go of. Taking time away from work to sit down and read a book or participate in a webinar or even attend the conference is a great way to gain knowledge.
3. Get inspired.
When I take time off from my daily work — even if it’s just a half day — I often discover inspiration. Maybe it’s a long hike or exploring a new yoga class or sitting at the bookstore with a hot tea, some magazines and my journal. It could be lunch with a friend or an exceptional colleague. Maybe it’s seeing a movie. We all take inspiration from different things. And engaging with the experiences that leave you feeling ready to take on your next project are essential to a sustainable creative existence.
4. Get organized so you can be more creative later.
I’m the queen of both digital and physical clutter. And I hate it. I’m working on it, but it’s a long and slow process. Anytime something is cleaner — and more importantly, more organized — I feel better. I feel more mentally prepared to take on whatever is next. So, anytime we can help our spaces exude the appropriate energy (whatever that is for YOU), we should take the time to create that feeling.
5. Reconnect with other humans.
I spend a lot of my time at my desk in solitude. I choose this; I like this. I work better like this. My social time is with my son. So, when I get some downtime, I enjoy engaging with close friends I don’t see enough and spending time with colleagues who fill me with inspiration. Both of these interactions are so, so good for my soul — and my creative battery.
6. Rest, sleep, meditate, take care of yourself physically.
A body/brain that’s exhausted and overwhelmed isn’t able to function at max creativity for long. I love using time off to fill my brain with different things and to create in different ways. But sometimes, what we need is just long nights of sleep, meditation retreats, green smoothies, workouts and other physical resets.
These are just a few ideas to help you get your own creative energy flowing. And trust me: It’s an amazing use of your time off that will benefit you in multiple ways for months to come … totally worth it!