Drinking tea during a morning walk in the woods

The past few weeks have been hectic: organizing tax documents and adding up reams of receipts for the accountant, prepping pitches for editors who are planning their 2014 editorial calendars, writing articles/meeting deadlines, planning an upcoming travel writing class and preparing a handful of raised garden beds to be filled with vegetable starts…I felt overwhelmed just looking at my to-do list. Even though it wasn’t the best time to leave the office, stepping away from the computer is exactly what I needed to do.

I rented a cabin in the mountains on a gorgeous 30-acre piece of land with trails through the woods. The dogs ran off-leash, dug up dead animals and rolled in foul smelling things and I followed behind, soaking up the silence. Being in unfamiliar surroundings, far from the ping of email alerts, ringing phones, stacks of mail and deadlines, I felt a creative spark.

Tossing a tennis ball in a clearing in the woods, I made a decision about a big project; a conversation in front of the fire gave me an idea for a men’s magazine; I started an essay over breakfast. There is something about stepping out of my routine that invites new ideas.

It’s so tempting to log 40 hours a week in front of the computer – after all, as freelancers, if we’re not working, we’re not getting paid – but it’s not the best thing for our businesses. We need to take a step back, to turn on an out-of-the-office alert and immerse ourselves in something other than work.

When I got home on Sunday afternoon, I had a mountain of laundry and a notebook full of ideas and I was excited to get back to work.

When was the last time you took a break?