One of the hardest aspects of doing creative work is switching off. I’m writing this at 1.30am to you, my fellow creative who is also working at 1.30am.
I’m writing to remind you, and myself, that this is a choice.
That no matter what we tell ourselves, it is our choice to pursue this work at all hours of the night and day. To let every social network and email alert interrupt our thoughts and our conversations. To laugh wryly and exclaim “a holiday, what’s that?”, and to believe it will all fall apart if we turn on an out of office email responder for a week or two.
There is no badge of honour coming our way for working hours we wouldn’t wish on our enemies.
You can either learn to sit with the uncomfortable and inescapable feeling you’re simply not working hard enough, or you can try to push it away by working harder. You can choose to subscribe to the late nights and early mornings philosophy and risk making yourself ill. You can save all of your energy for your work and hope that the people in your life will understand when you have nothing left for them.
Or you can give yourself a break.
Trust that it’s likely nothing terrible to going to happen if you go to sleep early. That going on holiday is something you can and should learn to do properly. That working with focus, steadily and sustainably over the long term will be better for our careers than gruelling schedules and sleep deprivation.
Switch off. Go to sleep. Go on holiday. It won’t make any difference to your work, but it will make a huge difference to your life.