Taking time with family may help you work faster

Go fishing for a while. Go to the beach. Go to the mountains. Sit on the porch and drink lemonade in the afternoon. Go to the creek. Catch lightning bugs. Dig worms. Spend time with your family.

You're busy enough these days, so why would you want to take time out to recreate?

On the surface rest seems opposed to work. Given context, it actually works with work. One of my ag editor friends takes a fishing pole with him when he's on assignment out in the field.

Water always does it for me as well. My mind goes back to long, hot summers in the soybean fields of northeast Alabama, chopping cockleburs that had grown too large. My cousin, Lionel Medlock, had four of us — two of his boys, and me and my brother — in his soybean fields with machetes, walking row by row taking out the cockleburs.

Working in the canopy of soybeans in the summer is akin to getting an inkling of what the guy looking back over the chasm between life and death felt like when he asked for just a touch of water on his tongue. For me, the only thing hotter is a tobacco field.

Doing such hot and honest work makes you sweat. I remember the hot work, but I also remember the foresight of my cousin when he took us over to the creek for an afternoon. We spent a whole afternoon in the water, away from work. The cockleburs were still in the field while we played in the creek, but the rows seem to go faster after a dip in the creek. Lionel has since passed away, but I've always remembered that day at the creek away from the work. The teenager in me at the time didn't appreciate the benefit of hard work and relaxation until much later.

The work and relaxation provided a morale boost; the work was still there when we got back, it just seemed lighter.

That's probably the top benefit of taking a break, but there's also another, perhaps more important reason to recreate.

I had dinner with a wise gentleman from Virginia the other night, who farms with his son. He pointed out that he told his son, “We need to make time to ‘play’ together.”

His point was, they needed to communicate more than on an everyday level, more than the everyday heat of the moment type conversations where a decision needs to be made. In effect, this man was saying, there needed to be some times of relaxed conversation, away from work. And so it is with all of us.

Every thing has a timetable. It has to be done then and now. It's important to be timely, but it's also important to take time to recreate and spend time when your loved ones.

I've conducted many interviews with good, decent folk and asked them this parting question, “If you had to do anything over that you didn't do, what would it be?”

Often the answer is, “I'd spend more time with my family doing things outside of work.”

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