Need to Get More Done? Take a Few Days Off.

Tuesday afternoon, it was 70 degrees in Denver. My family took a nice walk through the neighborhood, my kids ran around in the backyard with their shirts off, and I gave some gardens a much-needed watering.

Wednesday was a different story.

My wife and I woke up to a call from the school district letting us know there was a snow day. Sweet! Back to sleep.

When I got up 45 minutes later, I pulled back the curtain — skeptical there could be that much snow to keep my kids home — and saw about six inches already piled up.

By noon, we’d have two feet,  DIA would be shut down for the first time in a decade, and the National Guard would be rescuing people. 

Thursday went much like Wednesday, but with less blizzard and more sun. The sidewalks and streets were clear by noon and everyone in the neighborhood was scooping wet, heavy snow. Welcome to Spring in Colorado.

Why am I telling you this?

Because, surprisingly, these two snow days made me hyper-productive.

I typically spread projects out over a week or so. I know I could sit down and crank out pages and pages of copy for multiple projects at one time, but I like to piece them out. An email series here, a sales page there.

But two days of heavy snow made leaving my house impossible. Sure, I could have gone out, by why would I? Isn’t that one of the advantages of working for myself? I don’t HAVE to do much of anything if I don’t want to.

I tried to work from home, but with two pre-schoolers running around all day, any sense of “work” is laughable.

So we built igloos. And snowmen. And made hot chocolate. And watched movies.

And it was glorious.

By Friday (today), there was work to be done.

And, boy, did I work!

Everything that I would have chipped away at throughout the week, got handled in one day. The upside was that it was one big project with lots of pieces, all for one client, so I wasn’t really required to task-switch that much. In fact, there was probably more continuity among the projects than usual.

I was on some sort of high. Feeling good. Confident. There were many times when I stopped and thought, “This might be the best work I’ve done in a long time.”

I wrote for five straight hours. This isn't typically something I'd advise. Normally, I see diminished returns when I try to write too much, but today was different. It was like a runner’s high...but for writers.

So, again, what’s my point in all of this?

Downtime leads to crazy productivity. (Arianna’s been telling us this for years.)

This isn't the first time I've experienced this. It's just the most recent. And, damn, it feels good!

Spending some quality time with my family made me more focused, more driven, and more relaxed than I’ve been in a long time.

Ideas flowed easier, I felt better, and I worked harder. I was CLEAR (but not in like a strange Scientology kinda way).

So the next time you’re feeling guilty about all the stuff you have to do, ask yourself if it can wait. If it can, take a minute to do something fun. Really, when was the last time you had FUN?

Because sometimes, you really can have your cake and eat it too. And it’s much better with a warm cup of cocoa inside your brand new igloo.