If You Want to Get Ahead, Take Some Time Off

When you love startups, you end up connected to vast networks of exceptionally motivated people. Some of these people will say and post things like:

"Stop crying and keep working."

"While you sleep, I hustle."

"If you're working on {insert some well-recognized holiday}, you're one step ahead of the game."

* sigh *

Working while your peers sleep or take a holiday doesn't inherently mean that you're picking up ground they're losing.

The truth is: it doesn't matter how hard you work if people don't want what you're selling.

You could be the hardest heads-down hot chocolate hustler on the block, but if it's 96 degrees outside, you're gonna lose to the kid who checked the weather report and showed up with a popsicle cart.

Not all work is equal.

Some work is physical. Bodies need to recharge.

Some work is emotional. Spirits need to recharge.

Some work is cerebral. Brains need to sleep so that synapses can shrink and make room for more information.

Some work is domestic work, labor to support our families and households.

Some work is rote work, eligible to offload to a script or a service.

Some work is selfish work, worthy of sharing with someone who's eager to learn.

Effort counted in hours alone won't save us from the sleepless threat of competition.

Overworking back-fires; we make more mistakes when we're tired. And, if we give 110% every day, we won't have reserves to push through when shit inevitably hits the fan.

To do our best work, to ratchet ourselves and our businesses and our livelihoods forward, we must be careful managers of time and energy while developing resilient imaginations.

Your imagination is hungry.

Imagination feeds on things like fresh air, good food, friends, books, games, hobbies, travel, meditation, watching movies, and people watching. It stores up all the passive observations, sorts them into seeds of ideas, and waits patiently for the next puzzle to break.

Imagination requires energy, and it also requires time away from the puzzles at work.

Taking time off is work that needs to be done.