3 Reasons to Take a White Space Break to Avoid Burnout

You’ve probably heard the saying, “We teach what we need to learn.” Well, that was especially true for me this week!

I recently wrapped up the last week of my Beta Test for my upcoming group coaching program Life Editing for Beginners (doors open September 2!). The final lesson involved Step 5 of the Life Editing Process, Make White Space for Personal Self-Care.

White space is about giving yourself a break, resting, recharging, and doing a less-than-perfect job. It’s about embracing self-care.

In one week’s time, I had completed the Beta Test, moved to a new apartment, and kept up with my 14 private coaching clients.

I was exhausted and suffering from extreme burnout…but I didn’t want to admit it to myself!

It was only after I realized that I didn’t have a blog post ready to publish, which meant that my weekly ezine wouldn’t be sent for the first time in 2 and a half years, that I finally hit the brakes.

I posted on Facebook that I was making an executive decision: no blogging, no ezine, no biz work other than client calls. For the foreseeable future.

Ugh. I felt sick to my stomach after posting that, but maybe it was just the stress talking.

Dozens of my friends and followers “Liked” the post, so perhaps I was on to something. I might have felt guilty for claiming my white space, but everyone else thought my decision was perfectly justified!

Even my Beta Testers remarked that it was refreshing to see me lead by example. I certainly needed to learn my own lesson. 🙂

In the end, I took 2 full weeks off from my business work, and it felt AMAZING! I only wished I had planned the break in advance. Of course, now I have my next white space break blocked off in my planner.

Coincidentally, some of my favorite coaches are taking self-care breaks too. Leonie Dawson recently took a break from sending her ezine, and Natalie MacNeil from She Takes on the World posted this fun video about taking a business sabbatical.

Is it time for you to take a white space break? Let me rephrase that: it IS time for you to take a white space break!

Here are 3 reasons to take a white space break to avoid burnout.

You’ll Feel Less Resentful

Taking a break from your work (whether it’s a corporate job, personal business, or both) will ensure that you maintain all the good feelings that made you get into that line of work to begin with.

I’ve seen women in all types of businesses grow resentful when they’re not taking adequate white space breaks (boo!). I’ve said it before, but you gotta use your vacation days, people!

I recognized that my burnout was getting the best of me when I started feeling resentful of my client load. YOWZERS! How could I be mad at the kick-ass women who pay me to help them edit their lives? My white space break reminded me why I love being a coach.

You’ll Avoid Mistakes

One of the telltale signs of burnout is when you start making silly mistakes. By not taking a break, you’re liable to send a personal email to the entire company (eep!) or make an accounting mistake that costs you hundreds of dollars.

Maybe that seems farfetched, but I was noticing that I was making more grammatical errors (so embarrassing as an editor!) as well as spilling a full glass of water over my desk and printer and generally being clumsier than normal.

Even a short white space break such as reading for 30 minutes or walking around the block can help you avoid the mistakes that inevitably come with burnout.

You’ll Find Inspiration

You know how the best ideas always seem to come to you when you’re in the shower? Inspiration often hits us when we step out of our usual work areas.

If you’re feeling burnout creep up on you, try removing yourself from your workspace and go someplace completely different. Maybe sitting in the local coffee shop will spark your creativity. Maybe dancing in your living room will help you shake off your burnout.

For me, I like to take my dog to the park during my white space breaks. Seeing Skyla roll in the grass and eat ladybugs makes all my business worries disappear. I get the best creative ideas when I’m walking outside with her.

Your Homework: Pull out your calendar or planner and block out daily, weekly, and monthly white space breaks. How about a 5-minute meditation session every morning? Or what about a quarterly weekend away?

When was the last time you took a white space break?

This post focuses on Step 5 of the Life Editing Process, Make White Space for Personal Self-Care. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.

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  1. Julie Benningfield on August 14, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Hi Sage,
    I’m taking my first vacation in 20 years. My only companion is my dog and he is definitely the best vacation buddy I could ever imagine. I am so amazed to think that I can take him for a walk any time of day and not get heat stroke or open a window and feel a cool breeze. They might seem like little things to some, but for me they are pure luxury. I can actually feel creative again. White space is something I will never again think is optional!

  2. Vanessa on August 12, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Absolutely dear Sage! I’m trying my best keeping up with my “me time”. Thanks for being such an inspiring example to follow! ~ Vanessa

    • Sage Grayson on August 12, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      That’s wonderful, Vanessa! You deserve “me time” too. 🙂

  3. Lori on August 12, 2014 at 7:47 am

    I’m bad at recognizing when to take a break from my blog and my business. Actually, I take that back. I do recognize when I need to take a break, I just choose not to listen to my gut that’s telling me to take a pause. Then, that’s when I reach burnout, start making a lot of silly mistakes and begin to resent the work I once enjoyed. If I could just be more disciplined to listen to that voice when it says, “It’s time for a break…now!”

    • Sage Grayson on August 12, 2014 at 10:17 am

      I think a lot of us KNOW we need to take a break…we just refuse to do so! 🙂 I like scheduling my breaks as if they were any other important appointment in my calendar. Thanks for commenting, Lori!

  4. Paige Burkes | Simple Mindfulness on August 11, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    We must be on the same wavelength, Sage. I just posted on a very similar topic after feeling a bit of burnout. Yes, we do tend to teach the messages that we need to hear.

    I agree that white space could be anywhere from 5 minutes in the middle of a busy day or much longer. When I hit major burnout in a corporate job that I actually enjoyed, I ended up taking a 2 year sabbatical. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I found the meaning to my life and gathered the courage to experiment with how to express it.

    Even when we know the benefits, it’s still sometimes hard to actually make that time for ourselves.

    Great post!

    • Sage Grayson on August 11, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Hi Paige! Thanks for commenting. Wow, a 2-year sabbatical sounds heavenly. I’m one of those types who dedicates a lot of my time to other people while forgetting about my needs. I definitely don’t want burnout to sneak up on me like this again.

  5. Shybiker on August 11, 2014 at 7:06 am

    This is so true and so timely. I’m at the end of a two-year intensive period of trial trial trial trial without any break. I thought I’d catch my breath last month but had a major appeal in a multi-million dollar case given to me which I accepted because it was hugely profitable. But I’m burnt out. Fried to a crisp. Like you, I need a break.

    Thanks for the wise advice. It’s one reason why I come here. The other is to see your smiling face. 🙂

    • Sage Grayson on August 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      Haha! Fried to a crisp is a perfect description, Ally. Did you schedule your next break and what will you do with your white space?