You Do Your Best Work When You’re Not Working

Behind the Scenes on the project I’m most proud of so far this year, I was well rested for this one.

That’s what I think anyway.

If you work in the video production industry, at this time of year you most likely won’t even have a spare second as these few weeks in August are always jam-packed with opportunities, whether it’s sporting events, weddings, music festivals or most of other types of work.

It goes without saying that this is an incredible time to get your head down, work on lots of really exciting project and also save some money to see you through quieter times.

And although my advice to anyone new to the business would be to really capitalise on the earnings and experience you can gain at this time, it’s all too easy to overstretch yourself.

I was very fortunate to have just spend an amazing 3 days filming in Italy working alongside incredibly talented Director of Photography Paul Cook, who’s just about to release his 4-year film project ‘Magpie’ (it truly is phenomenal, check the trailer out here…

Outside of filming the beautiful city of Florence, we were able to spend several hours talking shop over some traditional Italian cuisine, an unsurprisingly given the time of year, we talked a lot about creative burnout.

From sharing personal experience and anecdotes, we collectively agreed that although you need to work hard to succeed in this business, the quality of your work is unquestionably a key factor too.

My intuition says that however hard you try, you can only truly do your most creative and effective work when you’re healthy and well rested.

Over the past few weeks it’s been all too common to open Instagram stories from filmmaker friends and see them working on back to back shoots with the most minuscule amounts of sleep in between.

And yes, there are times when you need to accept you’re not going much rest and just keep working to achieve success, but to me it seems you need to recognise when this is being detrimental to your overall career.

It all comes back to the quality vs. quantity argument and although there’s no perfect answer, I feel that we all personal can identify a ‘sweet spot’ where we are producing the most amount of our ‘best work’ that we can.

And to recognise this it takes a good amount of self-awareness (a trait Gary Vaynerchuk preaches as arguably the most important in business) and my intuition says that you need time away from work, to be able to take a step back and truly analyse how effective you’re being.

On a related, but completely different note I’m a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda video games. (For the tiny majority of you who thought I possibly could be quite cool, I’ve now shattered that illusion, deep down I’m very much a geek).

When I was 9, I was playing Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64 (for you Zelda fans out there who were interested) and was stuck on one particular section for weeks on end. I didn’t know that you could look up guides online at this time, so struggled for ages trying every possible thing I could think of, but sadly to no avail.

A few weeks later I went on summer holiday with my family and although at that time of my life completing the Zelda game was perhaps my primary ambition, for the two weeks I didn’t give a passing though to it and like every kid just enjoyed being on the beach.

I remember we were walking somewhere one day and all of a sudden a new idea on how to complete the section popped in to my mind out of nowhere (just like often happens in our brains) and sure enough when I returned home a few days later and tried that idea out, it was the answer I had been so desperately searching for.

It’s an idea that endures today, with the problems and challenges I need to solve in business today, however hard I sit at my laptop and try to work them out I only ever think of the best solution when I’m doing something completely different.

Whether it’s going for a run, walking the dog or going food shopping, the best ideas always come when I’m not working. Perhaps it’s the same for you too?

So what’s the lesson in this?

My intuition and experience says that if you really want to be successful, you need to build in time where you’re not working, it’s only then that your brain can really have the space to process everything it needs to in order to work out your next move.

So remember, you do your best work when you’re not working.

I wish you every success.


What I’m Currently Reading…

‘Crushing It’ — by Gary Vaynerchuk — it’s a great one! Check it out here…

About Jack

I help people, brands and business communicate more effectively with their customers through visual, audio and written content.

I do this through Southpaw Sport, the sports content marketing company I’m currently building as well as on a freelance basis working for agencies and production companies.


You can follow me on YouTube where I post weekly vlogs sharing my experience and opinion on content production.

YouTube —

And my social media for behind the scenes look at what I’m up to

Instagram — @jackwrtompkins

Twitter — @jackwrtompkins




I help people, brands and businesses communicate more effectively with their customers through visual, audio and written content.

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Jack Tompkins

Jack Tompkins

I help people, brands and businesses communicate more effectively with their customers through visual, audio and written content.

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