How to Take A Break From Work — Without Feeling Guilty

Do you really know what you're working towards?

Welcome to One Thing Better. Each week, the editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine (that's me) shares one way to level up — and build a career or company you love.

This edition is presented by Max Borges Agency — see the bottom of this email for their advice on how to tell your story better!

Today’s one thing: Working, working, working.

That one thing, better: Working, tracking, relaxing.

Made with DALL-E 2

You work hard.

But you can’t give yourself a break.

Maybe you want a day to relax. Or an hour to catch up with a friend. Or some time to indulge a hobby.

But you can’t shake a nagging feeling: I should be working. There’s something waiting for me. Something that needs me…

Today, I will help you relax — and give you a daily habit to relieve your pressure.

And to start, I’ll tell you about my own struggle with this:

It’s my “Work-People Paradox”

Here’s a question worth asking: What refuels you? Like, when you’re feeling tired, what restores your energy?

For me, it’s people. I love spending time with people. Catching up with friends. Making new ones.

But I have two little kids, which means I can’t go out most evenings. My best time to see people is during the workday.

And yet, I struggle to make plans during the day. Why? Because I’m worried about missing time for work.

This is the paradox. Seeing people would restore my energy and help me do better work — but I don’t see people enough, because I’m worried about work.

I want to fix this. So I’ve been asking myself: How can I feel more comfortable using “work time” to see people?

Then I found an answer — and it came in the form of some unexpected advice:

It’s a question of measurement.

Here’s the context.

I co-host a podcast with my friend Nicole Lapin, and we’ve both been through the hell of launching books.

These launches are crazy stressful. You spend years working on a book, and then — BOOM! It’s out in the world, nobody seems to care, and success rests solely upon you.

When Nicole’s first book came out, she hustled and promoted like crazy — but it never felt like enough.

Then someone gave her this advice: Before your book comes out, you must clearly define what a successful launch is to you.

“I never felt like I was successful, or I never felt like I was doing enough to be successful,” she said recently on our podcast. “I wasn't doing enough events. I wasn't doing enough press. I wasn't selling enough books.”

But Nicole had no idea what “enough” was — because she’d never defined it.

“How many appearances were a success?” she said. “How many sales were a success? How many press hits were a success? If I didn't put a number to that, I was destined to constantly feel like I was spinning and constantly feel like I was a failure.”

This a such a simple, powerful observation — and it goes far beyond book launches.

We work so hard. But we rarely measure our effort against a specific goal.

As a result, we give ourselves no sense of progress.

And if we have no sense of progress, how can we ever feel at rest?

Which made me wonder...

What if we defined success every day?

When we think of “success”, we often think big and broad — a successful life, a successful career, the culmination of years of work.

But success can be also measured in smaller ways. We are always working towards something — some current project, some specific goal.

Ask yourself: “What does success look like to me today?”

I bet you have an answer. Maybe it’s making headway on one project, finishing a smaller one, and responding to a few time-sensitive needs.

Next, ask yourself: “What does success look like this week?”

Again, I’m sure you have an answer. Maybe some things need to be finished by Friday, or at least in better shape.

Now you have an objective to measure your efforts against. Which means you can check in on your progress.

You can ask things like: Am I on track for this week’s goal? Which of these five priorities are done? If I step away, will they still be on track?

Yes, yes, and yes? Then put the computer down and take a breath.

Here’s how that made my week better.

I’m writing this newsletter from Toronto, where I traveled for a speaking gig. I landed in the afternoon and had a few hours free.

I have a friend in town. He offered to round up a few of his friends for coffee and cookies. (He’s really into cookies.) And at first I thought: That sounds great, but maybe I should get some work done instead…

On many other trips, I just work nonstop — arriving in a new city, going to the hotel, and pecking away at the computer until night.

But this time, I stopped and thought: What are my goals this week?

I thought about the things I needed to do. I accounted for which of them are done, or on track. And I realized: I’m in good shape. Things are moving. Goals are achievable. Plenty of time for cookies.

So I went. My friend bought a lot:

We all had a blast — and even talked about how we all wish we stepped away from work more, but often don’t feel able to. But we did that day. I made new friends as a result. It was a highlight of my week.

And this is available to you too.

People often say you must “make the time” for things — but I don’t like that. How do you make the time? At a time factory?

No. Here’s what you do: You use the time. Because you already have it! These hours are already yours. They always have been. But if can’t recognize this, then your time will never truly feel like your own. So set your goals. Envision your success. Move towards it.

And then, on a very regular basis, step back and ask yourself: Am I on track? Yes? Then how else can I use this time?

That’s how to do one thing better.

How to Tell Your Story, Better

Advice from the PR firm Max Borges Agency.

Max Borges Agency represents a startup called Ultimate Book List – a place to get free personalized book recommendations from some of the world's most influential voices from Greta Gerwig to Steve Jobs to Richard Branson. There’s even a list of my favorite books on the platform. Here’s the one thing Max Borges Agency focused on to share Ultimate Book List’s story, better.

The goal of Ultimate Book List is to help readers discover books that have made an impact on their admired personalities. There are over 5,000 books compiled on the platform gathered from credible interviews, blogs, and social media with each book listing its source. To demonstrate the platform’s ability to connect knowledge-hungry fans with their favorite celebs, Max Borges Agency capitalized on the current T. Swift craze and offered media a chance to share Taylor’s top book recommendations from Ultimate Book List with their readers. The approach to offer personalized content to media resulted in stories that featured Ultimate Book List on Billboard and more.

P.S. Miss last week’s newsletter? It was about how to feel calmer if anxiously waiting for someone. Read!

P.P.S. Want more on launching books and setting goals? On our podcast, Nicole and I helped a new author decide what’s worth doing — and what’s not. Listen!

P.P.P.S. Ever wonder why we dream? The new research on this is fascinating and blew my mind. Read!

P.P.P.P.S. Shoutout to the Toronto crew I mentioned: Cookie-loving Sol, new friends Sunny and Gareth.

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