updated: May 2nd, 2007 / Ross Johnson / 2 Comments

Getting out and Staying In

It doesn’t take a long time of being self employed or freelancing to figure out that you can only make as much money or grow in relation to how much you can get done. When you have a small team, or a team of one, it is easy to get into a mode where you feel like you have to be constantly working in order to accomplish everything and be successful. Even if client work is done, you should be marketing, networking, planting seeds, tracking, accounting, planning, etc, etc, etc

It is not long before you are a work all day, every day type of person.

Work less? Get more done?

Ways to get things done, or “GTD” has become a trend in and off itself. Between motivational and strategical books, to developing systems out of moleskine’s, everyone wants to accomplish more in the same amount of time.

However I doubt the “buckle down and kick ass” method works for long blocks of time. It is human nature to get tired, worn down, frustrated. When this exhaustion sets in, the quality and amount of work that is accomplished starts to diminish. Sure you might have worked another two hours, but you only got thirty minutes of work done.

It is hard, but sometimes you really just need to break away. Successful businesses often have recreational activities and PROMOTE the use of them to their employees. Sports, video games, nature walks, etc. You will often find that when you come back, you can refocus and have the drive to plow through the activities you previously droned and put off working on. The difference between procrastination and taking a break is one is productive, and the other is not.

The yin to the yang

The other side of this however, is sometimes you need interruption free concentration time. When you are re energized and ready to power through a list of TODO’s you need to be able to focus with out phone calls, emails, or co-workers. 37 Signals calls it “putting up a fuck off sign.” Essentially the time and energy it takes to refocus on your tasks several times is enough to derail your momentum and energy towards getting things done. Setting up a work station where you can hide from the rest of the world can be the difference between getting everything done and getting nothing done.

It is a hard balance, but sometimes you must realize that pushing ahead with out figuring out how to work smarter instead of harder is hardly effective.

2 thoughts Getting out and Staying In

  1. Here at the office we have a Super Nintendo and play Street Fighter when we get in need of one of these work release moments. We also take a quick walk around downtown and go to the store or whatever.

    I also think this is why it works out so good, when something is puzzling you and you have been working all day and you just can’t figure it out, then you go home and come in, in the morning and figure it out in 30 minutes.

  2. I think those a great methods of freeing up the “mind jumble” that we all tend to get into after too much time fighting the same problem.

    Its a balance, you can really boost productivity if you take the breaks strategically and modestly. Don’t take enough or take too many and you really start to fall behind.


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