24 Jul

I’m going on a jet plane…

It’s time for a break. Finally.

For the first time in four years – having worked at breakneck speed – I’m downing tools and disappearing for six days, going abroad for some sunshine.

Whether you freelance or work within a company, taking a break is essential. It doesn’t have to be abroad – I was just desperate for a change of scenery/culture, and found a good deal online.
You have to take a break though, otherwise you’ll just burn out. You’ll feel jaded (as I’ve become), your thinking becomes stale, your ideas are unoriginal, and you’re working at 70% of full capacity (an arbitrary figure I just plucked out of the air).

In recent months, my reference points for client briefs have been my journeys between only three places (all in/around London) – Potters Bar, Euston, Morden – plus anything I’ve seen in the Metro or Evening Standard newspapers, plus other client work.
My references outside of that have been the films I’ve watched (at home, in my bedroom), the odd bit of TV… and I haven’t read a book in six months.

My ideas are drying up and my thinking is stale. I can write functional ‘tick box’ copy, and come up with fairly obvious conceptual ideas, but that’s about it.

I cannot wait for this holiday, which starts tomorrow.

I’m only going to Spain, and I’ve been before, but I’ll be in a different country, with a different climate, different culture, different architecture, a different language, different food, different ways of serving that food, different mannerisms + sunshine and total relaxation: nothing cluttering my mind.
I will take several pens and pads, because I expect my head will be swimming with random ideas as I relax.
I also expect to come back brimming with even more ideas: bursting at the seams with potential blog posts, client ideas, new markets to target etc.

Aside from ‘getting away from it all’ in the literal sense, I’ll also be doing this in the electronic sense. I am making myself uncontactable for six days.
I’m thoroughly bored of looking at a 13-inch Mac screen all day, every day, seven days a week, or looking at my phone screen (often from 8am – 11pm).
There’s the ping of texts, calls at random times (you don’t have set hours if you freelance), three different email accounts that all ping, the work itself, three different blogs I write across, plus constant interactions across Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts, Google+, LinkedIn.
You can barely get started on a piece of work, before something interrupts you. Friends and family often call during what – for them – are ‘normal working hours’, and expect me to be around ‘because you freelance’ (the assumption being that I’m always available/don’t work during the day).

On this holiday, I will have no laptop and no phone. I will have no access to That Writing Chap emails, Hotmail, Gmail, phone calls or voicemail, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, or any other platform. Bliss. I can’t wait.

I recommend that everyone does this from time to time, even if there’s a long gap between breaks. You have to get away from your screen, fill your head with new ideas, and just switch off… otherwise you’ll simply run out of steam.
And, as you can probably tell by the tone of this post, I really need this break.

If ever there were a time to hire me though, it’s when I get back: I’ll be a bronzed Adonis (sort of), chock full of creative ideas.

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