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Life Hacks With Toby: When Did it Become Wrong to Take a Break?



RelaxA few days ago I went to buy a book. In the process of getting the book, the vendor convinced forced me to buy a movie too. I don’t know how she did it, because I protested and even explained that I almost never have time to watch movies.

A few days later I ignored all the work that was waiting for me to do and watched two movies at a go within the space of two hours. When I was done, I started feeling sleepy and I damned the consequences and took a little nap on top of it. By the time I woke up, I felt refreshed, but I equally felt guilty. It was like I committed a very heavy sin.

Has it happened to you before? Has anyone noticed that it seems abnormal to take a break from work? Or is it only me?

Take a leave off work, or travel out of town, and you come back to face colleagues and neighbours who will give you a ‘holy nweje-ish’ look of “See how he is just wasting his life away”.

Sometime last year, I took a few days off and went on a trip to Calabar. I had a great time, but I remember what it was like for me when I came back. Now it was not as if anyone came to slap me in the face for going on a vacation. But I could sense the disapproval miles away.

“Toby, you mean you went to Calabar for a vacation? You are now a big boy o. You don’t even have anything useful to do with money again.” Classic example of drinking panadol on top another person headache, when you have your own cough & catarrh to worry about.

Puhlease, what on earth is wrong with taking a break or enjoying a vacation? Have we all gotten used to working our asses off without ever resting that we make it look like anyone that takes a break is committing a sin?

It is even worse when the vacation involves travelling, visiting exotic places, or doing anything that involves spending. Such times, you start hearing comments like, “Chai see our money o.” Or the popular one, “Thieves. Na so dem go dey steal our money dey go”.

Bikonu umunnem na umunnam (please my brothers and sisters), taking a well-deserved break after working so hard is not a sin. In fact, it is highly encouraged.

The other day, I made out time and visited my family. And for the first time in weeks, I spent time with loved ones without working. I even watched a seasonal movie at night. It felt good. On top of that, my best friends came around and we spent quality time together doing stuff that wasn’t work related.

To be honest, it affected my work. I couldn’t meet up with a couple of deadlines. But at the end I never regretted it. I mean, I have come to understand what my priorities are.

You see, some of us still think that the reason we live is to work. Contrarily, the reason we work is so that we can live. This mode of thinking does not negate the place of work. Neither is it an excuse for indolence. However, it is to help us have a proper perspective on things.

Fine, I know the economy seems bad, and you need to make ends meet; but  you don’t have to kill yourself in the process. Wisdom demands balance; if not, someone else will help you spend in one year what took you ten years of sweating to make.

A friend of mine had a two-week vacation from work  last year. First of all, I must categorically say that two weeks in a whole year is too small for taking a break off work. Yes, it is too small, and something needs to be done about it!

In fact, in a study made by Ernst and Young, it was revealed that for “each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8 percent, and frequent vacationers also were significantly less likely to leave the firm”. You see, in the end, it is a win-win situation.

Back to my story jare. During my friend’s leave, she quickly diverted all her attention to another business. And at the end, she didn’t really rest. I couldn’t help but wonder if the extra thousands of naira she made in those weeks was worth her health and vitality.

Time will fail me to talk about my fellow entrepreneurs. Ours is worse! Many of us carry everything on our head and work so hard, forgetting that breaking down is a possibility. And if you break down in that situation, everything grinds to a halt. Luckily, there are strategies you can employ to work hard without breaking down.

Nigerians are known to be natural hard workers. Or to borrow the common word, ‘hustlers’. Yes, hustling is in our blood. But has anyone noticed that many times those of us that live and work here, look older than our mates who are in the western world.

Honestly, I don’t think it is the weather. You simply cannot cheat nature.

According to another study by The Framingham Heart, “Men who didn’t take a vacation for several years were 30 percent more likely to have heart attacks compared to men who did not take time off.”

To break it down in layman’s terms, “all work and no rest, kills Jack in no time”. Tweet that!

In conclusion, please make out time to take a break to avoid having a burnout. If you die or break down at work, believe it or not, someone else will replace you and the world will continue as if nothing happened. I am sure you don’t want that. Or at least, your loved ones don’t.

Your Turn

When was the last time you took a break from work? How refreshing was it? Did you notice more creativity and enhanced performance when you returned to work? On the flip side, how many times have you used your vacation as opportunity for side-hustle?

Photo Credit: | Nsoedo Frank

Toby Nwazor is a free lance writer and motivational speaker who believes that life is meant to be lived and not just existed in. He is equally an entrepreneur with a lot of hands-on experience in business start-ups, marketing, and customer service. He passionately writes every Monday and Wednesday on about helping entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs build successful start-ups


  1. Queen of Everything

    April 1, 2016 at 10:21 am

    I NEVER feel guilty about taking a break and I take one regularly!

    Life is too short, and I believe when you work hard you should play harder.
    I did not come to this earth to suffer or to meet deadlines and be too tired to actually enjoy my life.
    My mantra is: I do not live to work but work to live.

    If you don’t already, start taking breaks. you don’t have to fly to Dubai or Miami
    have a lie in, read a book, watch a movie, take your time to do every day things
    even a trip to the village is more than sufficient. cleaner, fresher air and a slower pace of life. reconnect with nature, gain some sanity away from the hustle and bustle of the big city(ies)
    Happy Breaking 🙂

  2. The Lagos HUstler

    April 1, 2016 at 11:54 am

    I have an “8-5”, i have side hustle, the type that has me flying over the state of Lagos either picking up a package or delivering one. I am currently doing my Msc join(part time, two years). SO my life goes: Wake up, go to work, close by 6, go to school after, close by 8 ish, get home 10 or later later, sleep, start the hustle all over again. Last year I hardly skipped classes, it was everyday..i do now… i kent coma die. This waka is minus the side hustle waka of leaving the office during break hours to attend to my own ish. I have to be the most worked person ever.(of course i exagerate). I used to add church..midweek service and choir rehearsals, and I was really into it(i could not have a social life talkless of getting man..but well,i had to kill that part of me, sadly) I used to do french classes every saturday one time too I had to thank God foer weekends!!!

    Leave days: 20, i take 10 per semester end to write exams, 5 days to write the exam and the 5 to read and rest for the exam… so no proper leave days for me, my office has never heard of exam(or study) leave before. I am constantly in and out of hospitals (cos i dont stop till i crash )which they take out of my sick leave days and of course i must provide doctors report to prove that i was sick so no faking it for me. I have not been on a proper leave (the type that you just rest and do nothing or go see your parents) since 2014 that i started working. I am tiredddd.(ok i lie, i lied one time in 2014, i just ghosted them in the office to travel to see man..i just had to, of course i faced my repercussion)

    Oh now im house hunting and i leave work everyday to go check out one apt pr the other and i still go to school after work…

    I need a P.A soon or ill just say f*ck it and get a damn sugar daddy.

    • Toby Nwazor

      April 1, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      Lagos hustler, please take it easy o. E be like say na because of you I write this note sef. Ah ah.

      My guess is that you are young and below 30. that means you still have an average of 50 or more years to live. So you can space out your life a little and take things a bit easy before ihe mmadu aghoo nke onye ozo (before it turns to another thing). Please don’t make the mistake of working so hard today and then wondering tomorrow what to do with the rest of your life.


    • The Lagos HUstler

      April 1, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      Hmmmm it was because of me o! i’ll take a break next year.. by then i know all will be settled and ill probably be in a better place. Thanks!

  3. Jade

    April 1, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    LOL, I went on vacation to France last year November and i loved it!!! when i got back everyone was going on and on about how i have money o, travelling up and down. My new boss is full of shit sef, common lunch break you want to go for, he will be complaining and be asking you must you eat? meanwhile he’s up there in his office eating and drinking to his heart’s content. mschewwwww

  4. myjobsucks

    April 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    I have been working since 2014 and i have never gone for leave. common to take sick leave is an issue in this company. My job sucks. I pray i find another soon

    • OTDamilola

      April 3, 2016 at 9:18 pm

      Amen for you. That is just wrong from your company. Our labor laws need work in Nigeria. People are not machines. And just because they work for you doesn’t mean you own them. In fact, when you treat people right, they work better and are more loyal to your cause.

  5. sista

    April 1, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    my vacation mantra
    “What’s Money Without Spending”
    l work to live not the other way round.

  6. OTDamilola

    April 3, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    I know about this. I was telling a friend just yesterday about my need to always be about something. We keep saying the future is waiting, grab it and all that, but it’s not something that can be done in a minute. And we need to stay healthy to do that grabbing. Rest is essential to good health and a sound mind. Breaking the work routine is also good exercise for the brain.
    One should be able to relax without feeling guilty. It is needed for optimal performance.

    • Toby Nwazor

      April 7, 2016 at 5:31 am

      Best comment. You just captured my thoughts Damilola

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