How do you know when to push your limits, and when to stop and breathe?
This line is a tough one to walk, and misinterpreting your your readiness when learning or practicing a craft can often lead to "master of none" syndrome.
Today's post isn't about motivation.
Instead, I want to examine something equally important to creativity and productivity: knowing when not to push yourself.
Have you ever taken a week off from your favorite activity, and come back feeling like you were almost twice as good?
It happens to me all of the time. I take a weekend off of producing music, and instantly begin drumming up new ideas upon return. I stop playing Dragon Age when I get stuck, and come back 25 minutes later only to beat the section I was miserably failing with ease.
This phenomena happens when your brain has time to rest and let recently learned ideas in your conscious mind digest into naturalized, organic knowledge. This period of rest also gives your brain time to consume other media and ideas, allowing you to return with context and clarity that may have been affected by extended periods of labor.
It's the difference between brainstorming for hours and having an idea just come to you.
If you don't let this occur, you're not going to get better.
It's easy to think that if you just keep going, you can finish and perfect your idea that much quicker. Sometimes, this sentiment is true - but most times it isn't. Most of the time, stretching your already stretched limits only leads to exhaustion, fatigue, and stagnancy.
Moral of the story?
Take a damn break. You deserve it. Better yet - your work needs it.