It’s Time to Take a Serious Break, and You Can Do This

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the need for real downtime

Robert Roy Britt
Published in
3 min readDec 16, 2020


Woman stretching outside.
Photo: AsiaVision/Getty Images

Sitting in my usual chair in front of my computer at a ridiculously early hour on a Friday morning, uninspired by every single story idea I was mulling after 11 months and 11 days of writing or thinking about writing every single day, I looked around my home office and said to myself: “Rob, you kinda just don’t wanna write any of these.”

My next thought: “These are some good ideas. Why don’t you want to write them? Where is your motivation?”

Then finally: “Dude, you really need to take some time off.”

“But I suck at taking time off,” I said aloud. (Yes, I talk to myself out loud when dealing with the most intractable challenges — it’s the best way to get my attention.) And I had the usual fear pop into my head: “If you don’t write something today, you’ll slip out of the flow, become irrelevant, never making a living wage again.”

That’s when my next story idea germinated: This year, let’s actually work really hard to take a real break. Because we’re terrible at it.

Everyone needs a break right now. Among the 75% of U.S. adults who say they’re burned out at work, 40% blame the pandemic and the sudden disruption of working from home.

Meanwhile, we Americans are, compared to other developed countries, terrible at taking time off. When we do vacate, however, we tend to return to work more motivated. In a survey commissioned by the American Psychological Association in 2018, 57% of Americans said they return to work more motivated after a vacation, 66% said they come back with more energy, and 68% report a more positive mood upon getting back at it.

There’s a flip side, of course: Most Americans say their organization isn’t supportive about time off, so the whole idea of a vacation proves stressful. This is where your willpower must take over. You need time off. You must take it. You will enjoy it. And then you should do it again. Survey says.

Getting away from it all is particularly challenging when your home is your workplace. Whether that’s your situation or not, it’s more vital than ever right now to truly shut things down for a…



Robert Roy Britt
Writer for

Founder/editor of Wise & Well on Medium & the Writer's Guide at & author of Make Sleep Your Superpower