The importance of taking time – Part 1

“I’ll get back to working out after this big project wraps up.” “I know my PTO balance is maxxed out, but I’ll start planning a trip soon.” “I will get that to you this weekend.” These are all phrases that I hear all too often at work, so I figured I would share some thoughts on it. First off, I admit I am a realist. Sometimes there are deadlines to worry about. A project may be behind schedule. An unplanned work trip popped up that you need to work around. For those scenarios, often we need to do what we need to do. What I am talking about is when those become the norm, not the exception. So many people today don’t understand the importance of taking time.

About 9 months ago I got inspired by a bunch of folks on my team. They had created a Webex chat room to share their work from home workout successes and were all there supporting and encouraging each other. I started joining in slowly, with occasional push-ups or a few dumbbell exercises between calls. But then I decided I needed to do more, to make an effort to give myself time to take care of myself.

Eric Thiel on a bike on a dirt trail taking time out of his day

Taking time out

For Christmas I picked up a very basic mountain bike to see if I could get into the habit. I blocked a bit of time each late afternoon to go for a ride and started going out each day. Initially I could not ride for long at all, and even the gradual slope in front of my house was tiring. But I found I really enjoyed the 15-20 minutes of clearing my head, focusing my thoughts, and not staring at a screen, before going back and wrapping up my day with emails and other ToDos from the day.

I recently decided that since I enjoyed that time of focus so much, that I would invest in a nicer bike when a good deal came along. It arrived this week, and after the first ride I can tell I will enjoy it much more on the new bike. It feels much more stable, the parts are nicer, and as such work much better, and it’s more comfortable. I still can’t make it as far or as long as I would like, but I am getting better. I highly encourage others to take a similar break each day to clear your mind. If not on a bike, take a walk, or make some workout time, or play with a pet. Doing something away from screens to give your brain a bit of room to reset. You won’t regret it, and will also soon appreciate the importance of taking time!


  1. Congrats Eric. I purchased a NuStep Recumbent Cross Trainer a year ago. It is 12 inches away from my desk. The idea was to use it during conference calls. Has not happened yet.

    1. I hear you @Julio F. I had an elliptical next to my desk for a year. Part of the value of the mountain bike is that I _can’t_ use it during conference calls. It forces me to carve time out to clear my head sometime during the day, even if only for 15-20 minutes. I think that is what helped me make it more of a habit, because it felt like it was a perk to have a little time to myself, vs. riding during a call I just felt like I needed to concentrate even harder on the call.

  2. Eric is spot on with this blog. I started taking time for myself January 1st, 2021. Began with baby steps of walking 30 minutes 4 times a week and 7 months later I have evolved to an hour walk (3 miles) everyday! On Sunday, I review my calendar for the upcoming week and block an hour each day. I feel great! Taking time for yourself really does work. Highly, highly recommend.

    1. That’s awesome @Mary! I took some time off due to an injury, so now I am working my way up with longer rides each day. With the trail I usually ride, I think my sweet spot will be around 45 minutes to do a big circuit up over the large hill and back around to home. For now each ride I push myself higher up the trail, and once I am able to hit the peak, I can just follow it down the other side and back around.

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