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Cover image for Matt's Tidbits #81 - The importance of vacation

Matt's Tidbits #81 - The importance of vacation

mpeng3 profile image Matthew Groves Originally published at Medium ・3 min read

Last time I wrote about a mind-blowing RxJava revelation I had. This week, I have an important message to deliver to you:

Take a break!

If you're at all like me (a person living in 2020), you're probably dealing with a lot of stuff - whether it's emotional, physical, etc. - this has been a rough year that has impacted every single person on the planet. Things are not the same as they were before, we have serious questions about what "normal" means, or if we even want some things to go back to the way they were. Other things may never be the same again.

It's different everywhere, but where I live (Boston, MA), there have been fairly strict travel restrictions since the pandemic locked everything down in March. I would normally travel to the west coast to visit family during the summer, but for the first time in the 10 years I've lived here, I couldn't go this year. That, coupled with the intense project I have been working on, and I somehow justified to myself for quite awhile that I would just keep working and that I didn't need a break.

I was definitely wrong. I took the whole week after Labor Day off, and it was exactly what I needed. This got me thinking - I wonder how many of my friends and colleagues have done the same thing - worked straight through the summer. If you're in that camp and still reading this, I hope I can convince you. I know it can feel a little weird to take time off without going anywhere, but it's still helpful.

If you've found yourself feeling stressed, or exhausted, or grumpy - take a break. If you're no longer excited by things that would normally be fun or interesting - take a break. If you've gone the whole summer (or longer) without taking at least a very long weekend (strong preference for a full week) - take a break!

I know it might make sense to save the time for when the pandemic is over and we can travel freely again. The problem is, we have no idea when that will be. And, you likely need a break right now.

If you have the ability to take some time off for yourself, I encourage you to do so! And, if you're going to take a break - take an actual break. Make sure you completely disconnect from work email/messaging/etc. It's really tempting (and easy) to get sucked into checking your messages while you're on a break (especially if you're just staying at home), but it kind of spoils it. You'll always be wondering "What's happening now?" The whole point of taking a break is to step away and give yourself a chance to recharge.

I will be the first to admit that I sometimes feel bad about going on a break because I'm worried the team won't be able to get things done without me. This is a fallacy in multiple ways:

  1. While things might look different without you there, the team will still make progress. People will still be working, and people have an amazing way of pulling together and figuring out how to get things done when you're not there.
  2. If you want to help your team, you need to be the best version of yourself, and you can't do this if you are tired, stressed, frustrated, etc.
  3. You don't have to justify the need to take a break- it's a form of self-care, and in this crazy time, it's one of the few things we have control of right now.

Take a break - trust me - it will help!

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Matthew Groves

@mpeng3

Software engineer with 10+ years of professional experience in C++, C#, Java, and Kotlin.

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