How and Why to Build a Sanctuary from Your Work

Whether you love your work or you hate your work, one thing is certain: you need a break from your work. You need to build a sanctuary where your work is off limits. A place where you can turn off your ideas and just rest.

build a sanctuary from your work

In the book Start by Jon Acuff, he shares a powerful exchange with a friend. His friend challenged him on the importance of taking regular breaks from his work.

He used the example of Central Park in New York City. If you’re flying over New York City, Central Park can appear as “wasted space” among all of the skyscrapers you see.

However, in the middle of the “city that never sleeps” you will find a sanctuary. A place that people can go to sit, go for a jog, or just enjoy some peace and quiet.

Then Jon’s friend challenged him with this statement:

“ You need to build your own Central Park.”

Your own Central Park is a place where:

  • You turn off your ideas
  • You intentional choose not to be productive
  • You read fiction just for the pure pleasure of reading
  • You spend time being fully present in relationship talk
  • You slow down on purpose
  • You show kindness to others because you have margin in your life

Why Building Your Own Sanctuary is So Hard

If you hate your work, then you probably don’t need much convincing. If you love your work, building a sanctuary will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.

This is especially true for those of us who work from home. Work is always present. Since you love your work, you would rather work then:

  • Watch something on TV
  • Mow the grass (or any other physical labor)
  • Work on projects around the house
  • Sit on the back porch and watch the sunset

Why is breaking away from work so hard?

Maybe you have a few reasons, but let me share with you mine:

  • I have goals and projects I want to get done
  • I have a business that still needs more building
  • I have a platform that still needs more attention
  • I have customers that still need more help

How to Build Your Own Central Park

While I am still trying to be more intentional at building my own Central Park, let me share some steps with you.

1. Pick a time to shut down your work daily

If you don’t intentional choose a time to shut down for the day, your work will keep calling you back. I can promise you that. As soon as you see a little down time at home, you will be drawn to jump back into your work.

Here are a few ways to shut down your work daily:

  • If you have a home office, close the door and walk out at a set time every day.
  • Pick a hobby that has nothing to do with your work
  • Select a fiction book that allows you to read for the pure enjoyment of just reading

“If you don’t intentional choose a time to shut down for the day, your work will keep calling you back.” Tweet that

2. Stay off your smart phone in the evenings

This one is hard, but so needed. I was having a hard time sleeping in the evenings and not sure why. The biggest culprit was being on my iPhone in bed before going to bed.

All it takes is one email that brings a potential problem to your attention and your mind will begin racing. You won’t be able to go to sleep. Instead you should have waited till morning to discover this problem.

I thank Jeff Goins for challenging me in this area on a recent conversation we had. We all can benefit from slowing down. I’d encourage you to check out Jeff’s Slow Down Challenge on his blog.

3. Believe the world is not going to end before the morning

If you can grab hold of this principle, you will improve your productivity and enhance your quality of living. The reason we often get pulled back into our work is because we have an addiction. We can’t stand the thought of having a unread email, a mention on twitter, or a comment on our blog, and not getting to it right away.

What is the best thing about breaking away from work for a few hours? You get to discover all the exciting things that took place while you were away. Checking in after being “unplugged” for a few hours or evening can be fun. You feel refreshed. You are ready to tackle any work that needs to be done.

4. Take a full 24 hour technology fast each week

I’ve talked about this before, but it bares mentioning again. Each week, I step away from the computer for a full 24 hours. I find a hobby, project, or trip to take. This helps me to fully unplug each week. Give it a try!

Question: What do you do to create your own Central Park? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Jonathan has been blogging since 2009 and is still in awe that the Creator of the Universe desires to have a relationship with him. His passions include spending time with his kids, reading, March Madness, surprise get-a-way trips with his wife, and watching funny YouTube videos.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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    6 thoughts on “How and Why to Build a Sanctuary from Your Work

    1. My sanctuary is my bedroom where I listen to christian radio channel from Greece. Listening to it during time outs, away from my computer- restores my soul and relieves me from stress.

      • Great point Steve. Music, especially Christian music, can be a great uplifter of the soul. Music can even be a sanctuary of sorts when we can’t find a physical location of peace.

    2. Thanks for the reminder! Its so easy to revert back to old habits and forget to block in time away from work, especially when working from home. I like your choice of word “sanctuary” – a place to be refreshed and energised!

    3. Excellent timing! I have been thinking about this the last couple of days after pushing so hard the last few months I was feeling on the edge of burnout. Getting off the computer for my business this weekend was so important, need to do that more often.