It’s pretty rare that I take a break from my work for more than a few days at a time. Recently the major breaks I’ve had were for my wedding, honeymoon, a trip to Baltimore to donate stem cells, visiting family in CT, and this weekend, where my wife and I spent an absurd amount of time dealing with complications from a cat bite she received a few days ago.
After every one of those breaks I’ve had a rush of ideas. My day to day thoughts are usually just additions to those ideas. For example, while we were cruising in the Caribbean for our honeymoon I came up with a few ideas for potential start-ups. Since then, I’ve just mostly been making small changes to those ideas and not coming up with anything radically different.
This weekend I spent very little time at the computer and I came up with some other ideas that I’m really excited about. Somehow this always surprises me. Its like I don’t want to admit that I’m not as clear headed on a normal basis.
I’m not sure whether its because of the break itself or because I get more sleep during those times.
The problem is that whenever you’re taking a break you’re not getting work done. If you work too much you never have any great ideas. If you are always taking breaks you’ll never get any work done. The key is to find the right balance between work and rest. I don’t think I’ve found that yet. Usually if I’m tired and have a decision between programming and sleeping I’ll choose programming.
Also, I think my body requires 8-9 hours of sleep to really be 100%. I get 6-7 normally, which would mean I have to sacrifice two precious hours each day to achieve my potential. So I work at 70% mental capacity for 4 hours vs 100% for 2 hours. Maybe a good compromise would be to go to bed an hour earlier, meaning 3 hours of 85%. Mathematically that works out to be the best, although it seems like a stretch to represent the situation mathematically.
Regardless, the key is to get regular breaks. You won’t work at your potential otherwise.