The Importance of Breaks

I am delighted to be heading toward the holiday season, taking a week off for Thanksgiving and two at Christmas. A couple of years ago, a colleague presented some study findings that schools need to take a break approximately every eight weeks in order to avoid burnout. The interesting fact is that the breaks don’t need to be very long. The school incorporated these findings by scheduling at least a four-day weekend into the school schedule every eight weeks. Even four days can make you feel that you have sufficiently disengaged your brain from the daily business of school to feel refreshed. Have you ever made the decision to leave for a weekend trip on a Friday night rather than Saturday morning? Doesn’t the weekend feel an entire day longer when you leave on Friday?

For tech staff, our busiest time of year is August/September. We make most of our systemwide changes during the summer and then support so many users whose computers built up technical problems during the summer, need to adjust to the new systems we have rolled out, or have new technical needs due to a new course schedule. When do we get our first break? This year, it didn’t happen until now. That’s four months straight, twice as long as the recommended period without a break.

Some schools have distributed their systemwide improvements throughout the school year, especially for lab upgrades. However, with the trend towards mobile computing, we only have three computer labs on campus. The daily requirements of support make it difficult to focus on big projects during the school year. An opportunity may exist in the slow months of January, February, and March, before preparations for the new school year swing into gear.

Back to the point: we get our first big break next week, and I look forward to having that refreshed, energetic feeling when I return on the 26th. I’m not yet sure whether I will blog during break. Happy Thanksgiving!

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