The day I wrote this post I did something for the very first time – no mean achievement at my age. It was a Saturday and I was on my own all day. I wanted to do some planning and writing, and despite having a silent house to myself, I took myself off to a busy coffee shop and planned and wrote there instead. In a quiet corner, away from the bustle I sat and the ideas flowed, I wrote and I planned and I wrote some more. And in that quiet corner of the coffee shop, I planned this blog post and I was inspired to write about the value of taking time out of your normal environment.
Surprisingly, the busyness and distractions of the coffee shop had no impact on me because they weren’t my concerns, they weren’t my distractions. In my familiar environment, I am distracted by the things I can see that I need to do, my own priorities – in a coffee shop I am totally without priority apart from the plans I have for my time there and which cake to have with my cappuccino .
As a remote or virtual (or home) worker, continual availability for work is tempting but really isn’t recommended. I recently read an online article that pointed out that the brain is a muscle, and just as you wouldn’t expect your other muscles to work constantly at peak performance without rest, the brain also needs periods of rest to work at optimal levels.
In a very similar way, spending periods of time away from work concentrating on activities that make you happy will also allow you to come back to work feeling refreshed and relaxed BUT even just a small amount of time away from your normal environment will stimulate you enough to be able to focus on your return . The human brain needs periods of change to refresh and let the ideas arrive.
So, a monthly date with my laptop in a coffee shop is a must for me now. No need to feel guilty or like I’m skiving off work – this is a valuable and necessary ‘appointment’ in my work calendar. Similarly, non-client work for your business such as networking events, work-related courses and workshops are all valuable time away from the office that bring that much-needed change of perspective, improvement in focus and motivation and inspiration to keep you working at your best.

Do you feel guilty when you take time out from your home office? Do you schedule in time for ‘non-client’ work?

Take a look at my Top Time Killers, to save how you could save 8 hours per week too.