Well, Game Producer stole a bit of my thunder, but I'm still going to share.
Have you ever considered taking a day off? Just putting all your work aside for a while and relax? Maybe read, watch a movie, or just head to the beach?
How about every week?
About 2 years ago, that's what my wife and I started doing. We had been working just about every day with few breaks in between. Then we started thinking about how to take a day off to Recharge once in a while. Then we decided to go all out and not work at all one day/week. It was a struggle and we had to work into it, but here's what we did.
First, we made a decision to implement it. Without making a definite decision about it, you'll never make it.
Second, we phased into it steadily: First, we decided no working after 6pm. This got us into the habit of putting things aside, planning accordingly, and thinking in the right terms. It also coincided nicely with the Simpsons, but I digress. Next, we steadily shifted this quitting time earlier in the day: 6pm, 3pm, noon, and then not working at all. Finally, we made a point of doing something out of the ordinary to set the tone. We'd go to a local bagel shop, have a tasty treat from the farmers' market, or sleeping in.
Next, we can do things that involve technology (unlike Game Producer), but generally we read, relax, watch movies, play video games, yell at the Sunday morning news shows (yes, my wife now scoffs and yells at certain people), and roam the countryside.
Finally, we've protected it at almost all costs. If it's a choice between working late in the week or working on Sunday, work late. If it's a choice between working on Sunday or getting up early on Monday, get up early. Sure, it's not my favorite thing in the world, but it works.
The benefits from this have been huge…
Motivation on those other days stays higher. After all, I don't have “all weekend” for something. I get Saturday and that's it.
We get time together without calls, emails, etc, etc, etc. The number of emails and calls I get on a daily basis are simply stunning. Almost no one else is working on Sunday anyway, so the email waiting on Monday is negligible.
There is a dedicated day where we get to sleep in, where there is no one waiting on us, and almost nothing is ever scheduled. The ability to relax and decompress trumps all. Generally, we only need to think in terms of “Oh, we just need to make it a few more days.”
And most important of all, it gives us a chance to do something different. As I noted on CodeSnipers last week, very few mISV bloggers talk about burnout, the toll of the business on personal lives, or anything besides their businesses. Well, I've been working on CaseySoftware in one form or another for almost two years. It's grown from a single-person parttime operation to quite a bit more with customers all over the place. Having something else to do and think about has saved my sanity, and it will likely save yours.