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Time Out

Take it easy, juggling act.

People are not machines. We cannot work continuously without paying the price. Taking time to refresh and rejuvenate can head off physical ailments, such as repetitive stress disorders, as well as mental exhaustion and burnout.

"Breaks are important, both physically and mentally," says Priscilla Huff, a Sellersville, Pennsylvania, author of several books about entrepreneurship, including More 101 Best Home-Based Businesses for Women (Prima Publishing, $12.95, 800-632-8676). Huff grabs a 15-minute break every two hours. "I approach my work with more enthusiasm when I return," she says. How to squeeze breaks into a harried schedule? Try these tactics:

  • Go gradually. If you now take no breaks at all, add one 5- to 10-minute break in the morning for a week or two, then add an afternoon break to your schedule. Finally, extend breaks to 15 minutes, or add several others until you can comfortably handle one every few hours.
  • Use a timer. If you often forget to take breaks, a timer, alarm or other auditory reminder can help you stay on track.
  • Do something fun or personally rewarding on your time out. The inclination for homebased business owners is to do the laundry or pay personal bills and call it a break. Sorry, but those don't count.

Huff heads to her backyard. "I'm an amateur birding enthusiast," she explains. Fifteen minutes is enough time for her to relax while watching wrens and chickadees. It's enough time for you to take a walk, read a chapter in an escapist novel, work a puzzle, lift weights, hit a few golf balls, or just sit outside and breathe deeply.

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