Break Up Your Workday, Not Your Productivity
I play this song in my head everyday:
Not kidding. I love my job.
I have rough days.
I have tasks I don’t technically enjoy doing.
But overall, I really really really love my job.
However, no matter how much I love my job, I need a break.
And I’m not just talking about a lunch break that I admittedly don’t always take. I’m talking about little mental breaks throughout the day to relieve myself from mental and physical exhaustion.
Studies have shown that we lose our focus and ability to perform tasks well if we continue to do the same task for long periods of time. Brief (and I hope I don’t need to define brief, but I will below) deviations from a task can really improve your ability to focus for a long period of time.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I look at my day and think about trying to take a break, let alone many breaks, I very quickly laugh it off. But there are ways to break up your day without breaking up your productivity. Try some of these our for size:
Take a Quick Walk:
Down the street. Around your backyard. From the first floor to the seventh. Wherever you go, take a couple minutes away from your desk. Getting up and out of your chair can help clear your mind and maybe even boost some creativity. Bonus points for walking outside and soaking up some of that vitamin D we’ve learned we’re all deficient in.
If you’ve been sitting for a couple hours, stand up and put yourself in a little Tadasana. Lucky enough to have a standing desk? Bring that leg up and put yourself in a Vrikshasana. I’m not saying go full Natarajasana here, but taking a couple minutes to stretch gets you off your feet and your blood pumping.
This one should be an easy one. You should be drinking water all day while at your desk. Not drinking water can make you groggy, irritable, and headache-prone. Nobody likes an afternoon grump. Bonus breaks here are if you’re drinking water all day – bathroom breaks!
Traditions with Co-Workers:
Breakroom dance party? Sure! 2 minute trivia? Bring it! 7 minute HIIT workout in the courtyard? Let’s do this! Bonding with your colleagues is one of the perks of working in an office environment. It’s important on many levels. Try creating little traditions throughout the day that bring you together and rejuvenate your energy.
OK, so admittedly, this one is very much not me. But, it’s some people, and I think it’s a great way to take a mental break if you’re into this sort of thing (or open to trying it at least). There are a lot of free apps and videos out there that offer a quick 5 minute guided meditation break. Meditation can help you deal with stress, negative thoughts, and can boost positive skills like awareness. All you need is 5 minutes and an open mind.
Emphasis on the healthy here. A bacon cheddar sandwich from Starbucks to start your day, while delicious, will leave you with a major mid-morning crash. Instead, eat something a little more balanced and grab some healthy snacks for the day. Also don’t drink soda, opt for some of that water I talked about earlier.
I threw this one in here for me. This is what I do, and it does a couple things for me: I have a clearer mind when I’m not staring at a lot of clutter on my desk or in my office. It gets me up out of my chair for a couple minutes. I feel like I’ve done something productive. It only takes a couple minutes because I do it almost every day. If my office space is clean, I might hop over to another room for a couple minutes to change my scenery and empty the sink, which inevitably always has a glass in it (how….).
Mental and physical breaks are good. They are important. Checking your email or scrolling on TikTok DOES NOT constitute a real break. A real break should bring you back more energized and make you more productive. Sometimes work can be draining and sometimes a little monotonous. It’s worth experimenting with little breaks to hit the reset button. Then maybe you’ll be singing along with me….
A-a-ay, I’m on vacation, every single day ’cause I love my occupation…
I said I’d define it:
Brief /brēf/: a short duration of time.
Short… I’m talking 5-10 minutes here. And I’m not talking every hour on the hour. Twice a day breaks are about right, once in mid morning and once mid afternoon. Don’t take a break in the middle of a task (unless you’re going cross eyed or making mistakes, then step away and clear your head).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Stephanie Olsen is agency principal for ReThinc Advertising. Her primary responsibilities at ReThinc can be summed up by the word “everything.” This includes but is not limited to: account executive duties, commercial printing, promotional items, accounting, and of course, HR.