Breaks from work during the day are as important as the work itself. But taking enough breaks throughout the day can be more tricky than just deciding to…
When the time to take a break arrives, it’s often very easy to ignore it and carry on working… It’s so easy to miss breaks, or overwork.
You may have a deadline to meet – or might have gotten behind on work and need to catch up. You might feel frustrated about something not going well. Or you are simply deeply involved in what your’re doing, or enjoying it too much to stop.
This is senseless though, and is detrimental to our success, our health, and our well being.
Not taking regular breaks and pushing on through your work might seem like you’re getting more done… But regularly disengaging from your work will in fact make you more productive.
Below are some useful ways to change your habits, and make sure you take the breaks you need. First though, a few more words about why it’s so important…
Why taking regular breaks makes sense
- Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task/s.
- Constant sitting at your desk puts you at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
- It’s a lot better for your overall health. Breaks can even help you to incorporate more healthy habits into your day. Getting up from your chair to walk, stretch, do a bit of exercise, or whatever activity you prefer can reduce the negative health effects from too much sitting.
- Breaks help you to process and retain information. A relaxed mind can help a particular problem solve itself – better than you trying to force solutions or ideas out of yourself.
- It helps you to step back from your work and see the bigger picture, rather than wasting too much time on small tasks. You can reassess your priorities.
- It keeps you creative. Especially if you’re not taking enough breaks from intensive cognitive activity. A break/recharge restores your creative energy.
- As mentioned, taking regular breaks helps you to be more productive. As well as the other benefits above to help with productivity, it also gives you a series of mini deadlines which can help you to get things done more quickly.
How to ensure you take more breaks
- Set an alarm to go off after a reasonable amount of time. Do that repeatedly throughout the day for each work session.
- Setting a timer on your smartphone is perhaps a better alternative to setting an alarm for you (this is what I do myself, and recommend trying). It gives you a bit more flexibility. Whether you start a session at 9:00, 8:53 or any other time, you can perhaps set your timer to (for example) 1.5 hours. When the timer bleeps, you quickly wrap up what your’re doing and STOP. No arguments – just count down from 5 and stop. Do that for each session.
- If you live with others or your family, you could ask someone to ‘force’ you to stop at set times.
- You can also maybe plan to do something in your break that you enjoy and can look forward to. A little reward for actually taking a break!
- Find a method that works for you, and follow it for several weeks until it becomes a new habit for you. A habit as in it would feel really wrong if you missed a break.
Pay attention to the benefits you derive from your regular breaks, such as feeling less stressed or fatigued; a recharged brain; refreshed energy for a more productive following session…etc. This will help you want to stick with the habit of taking regular breaks.
That’s it. I’m off for a break.
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