Why high-performing designers (and people) take breaks

A few weeks ago I told a friend, “All I want to do is go to Windsor, read books and not talk to anyone.”

Instead of nodding along, like most people do when such statements are made, he asked me; “why don’t you just do it, then?”

Called out. Fair enough.

The next day, I booked a hotel and train, then booked the time off work. Currently, I am writing this the day before I leave for this blissful 1.5 day of self-refuelling.

When life gets really busy, it’s easy to just tell yourself to ‘toughen up’ and power through. As a product designer, there have been times where I have had less work, and times where I’ve had TONS. In these busier times, it can be difficult to let yourself take breaks.

Whether you’re interviewing, doing freelance and projects on the side, or are juggling a few complex projects at work, being strategic and creative AND outputting work AND discussing your work 24/7 can be quite exhausting.

In these busy times, I feel guilty when I take a walk, a coffee break, eat my lunch, or finish at a reasonable time (6pm usually). I feel like I shouldn’t be able to have fun because I have “more important” things to do.

What I’ve learned lately, however, is that you need breaks to be able to articulate yourself to the best level possible (as a product designer, and as a person).

As well, work is not the entire purpose of your life. The reason you’re a great creative thinker is because you’re inspired by the world around you — and you can’t be inspired by the world around you unless you engage with it. The best designers I know go to exhibitions, have friends, read books and have hobbies OUTSIDE of work.

This week, I’d like you to book that holiday before you start saying you NEED it. Take a breath and go for a walk with your favourite colleague.

When you take breaks you’ll show up better, do better work, and actually enjoy your life.

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