In my distant memory, I seem to recall a time when you could count on work slowing down in the summer. Alas, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. And if we can’t count on work giving us a break, then we need to give ourselves a break. We need to give ourselves permission to slow down, unwind, and renew – for a few moments, a few hours, or a few weeks. Taking breaks pays off by allowing us to focus more efficiently and get more done in less time. In addition, moments of inspiration and creative problem-solving tend to happen in our down time. Think about it – where were you the last time you got an inspired idea? Was it when you were working, or was it when you were just waking up in the morning, taking a shower, or driving down the road? Give yourself permission to take a break!

Research shows we can optimally focus for 90-120 minutes at a time, and then we need to renew. How about setting a timer for 90-120 minutes, and then make a point of taking a short walk or talk to a friend? If you’re hard at work on a demanding project, carve out time to get a good night’s sleep – you’ll be fresher and more productive the next day. If you’ve been burning the midnight oil for an extended period of time, you may need a macro-break – perhaps a long weekend or a trip to an exotic place without internet access.

It’s the middle of August. There are only a few weeks left of the summer. I’m going to take my own advice and give myself permission to enjoy some time off by hitting the pause button on writing my Career Tips. I’ll be back with more tips right after Labor Day, refreshed and ready to go. Enjoy the rest of your summer!