Last Saturday morning, my wife was ready to start planting flowers, and she needed my help lifting, toting, and digging. So when I snuck downstairs to check e-mail and take a look at the site, she busted my chops: “Can’t you go just one day without getting on that computer?!

So ladies and gentlemen, my message this week is simple: If you’re feeling burned out, if you’re tired all the time, and you never seem to have any fun—take a day off the computer. You’ll be glad you did.

Don’t even look at a screen
Most people who work in IT have more to do than they can get done, even working 50 to 60 hours a week. So we take laptops home. We work from home after the rest of the family has gone to bed. We work too darn much.

It’s time to set aside a day—or an entire weekend—and make our lives computer-free zones. The benefits of taking a single day off the computer are many:

  • Developers: After you take your day off the computer, you’ll come back to your projects refreshed. While you’re off, your subconscious will continue working on the solution to that bug or logic problem that’s been nagging at you. The next time you fire up your PC, the answer you’ve been looking for should pop right out.
  • Support professionals: After your computer-free day, you’ll have a different perspective on your trouble tickets. You won’t be as stressed out by the blinking message light on your phone. You’ll have a little more patience for your frantic end users.
  • Managers: Your mood sets the tone for the people who report to you. If you never take any time to relax or have a life, you pass your stress on to your people. If you do spend a day without sending or replying to e-mail, your disposition will be better, and your team’s performance will, hopefully, be better, too.

Don’t tell me you don’t have time
Don’t try to tell me you can’t take a day off. I know you’re swamped, but your mind and body can only take so much stress before you start seeing diminishing returns on your efforts. Be smart. Take some time off.

Whether it’s one day a week or one day a month, set aside a day when you won’t connect to the Internet, you won’t check e-mail, and you won’t even think about work. It’s spring! Get outside and do something—anything—other than thinking about computers and work. Your boss won’t mind—he or she will appreciate the new bounce in your step and your renewed energy when you come back.

Do you have a special strategy for making time to relax away from the computer? If so, we want to hear from you. Please post a comment below or drop us a note , so your fellow IT professionals can borrow a page from your book.

You’re smart. You’re working hard. You da man (or da woman). But don’t overdo it. I have to go now—time to open another bag of mulch.
Each Tuesday, Jeff Davis tells it like he sees it from the trenches of the IT battle. And you can get his report from the frontlines delivered straight to your e-mail front door. Subscribe to Jeff’s View from Ground Zero TechMail, and you’ll get a bonus of Jeff’s picks for the best Web stuff—exclusively for our TechMail subscribers.