Do you ever take breaks from your busy daily routine?
If you are following me on Instagram at @SabrinaCadini you probably saw a short video clip during my power walk earlier today. I talked about the importance of taking little breaks during the day to improve your creativity and productivity. And, to keep your sanity between demanding clients, budgets, spreadsheets and so on.
Many people think that sitting in front of their computer and working like crazy on a project until they finish it is the way to go. The more time you put in, the more you’ll get done, right? No. It’s completely wrong. We are human beings, not machines. We need breaks. And taking regular breaks improves focus, productivity and creativity. If we don’t take breaks we can experience stress and exhaustion.
You have to think about mental work or concentration like a muscle. When you work on a project or a task your brain becomes fatigued, you need to give it a rest so that it can recover, just like when you work out at the gym when you lift weights. You do sets with a rest period in between, right?
Breaks are super important and vital in our daily life, and especially in our society where we are constantly bombarded by social media, e-mails, phone calls, and our work.
How often should you take breaks?
That’s totally up to you. It really depends on your work flow, how tired you get or how stressful that specific task is. Your body will tell you when it’s time to stop and do something different to recharge. Even if you don’t feel you need to take a break, force yourself to do it. This could be 20 minutes every hour, or 30 minutes every 2 hours, whatever works best for you. Once you come back from your break you will see how easy that overwhelming task will become and some great ideas might also come up for successful results.
Remember: it’s not the amount of hours you put in a task, it’s the quality of work and time that you dedicate to it.
What should you do when taking a break?
1) Get up and move around, take a walk, spend some time with friends or colleagues, laugh, decompress, talk about funny or frivolous stuff, just let it go! Get completely distracted from your work and things you have to do in order to relieve stress, reduce fatigue and boost your mood.
When I need to spark my creative juices I always love to go to my local mall and do some window shopping: I don’t buy anything, I just walk around and get inspired by the colors or products and the way they are displayed.
Taking a break should also mean unplugging from your phone and social media This is better than staying at your desk or working on a project for hours however, it will not recharge you as much because your brain will still be in that working mode (this is part of that FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out that constantly stresses us out)
If you are working at an event or wedding it might be hard to take a break when you need it – If possible, take turns with your assistants so each of you can spend even a few minutes in the green room and just disconnect from the hectic day.
2) Take power naps (25-30 minutes) for a short and effective energy-booster. This can be very important if you didn’t sleep enough the night before or you just feel tired. Research has shown that naps improve your memory so that could be a great way to incorporate some nap breaks in your busy day. I personally don’t get any benefit out of naps – I tried many years ago and they didn’t work, I would wake up and be grumpy and feel even more exhausted so I gave up!
3) Turn to meditation or yoga, they provide maximum renewal in minimum time and they are very effective in relieving your stress.
How can you remind yourself to take a break?
This is sometimes difficult to do: if you are working on something that requires undivided attention and focus you don’t want to stop right in the middle of something, right?
What you can do is set a timer that will remind you to take breaks at specific intervals or, and this is what I do, write down your breaks on your agenda. Is there a group class that you really enjoy on Tuesday afternoons? Add that to your weekly schedule, make it part of your weekly routine. Do you have a friend from out of town visiting you? Block a few hours with him or her that week and think about something fun to do together.
Write everything down and don’t do it with a pencil (so you can erase it in case plans change), write it down with a pen. I’m a pen and paper type of person because I love to see things written down, I can visualize them better. If you’re using a calendar tool or app on your phone just enter the time and the most important thing is, don’t change it! Just stick to the plan, and treat those special breaks or moments for yourself as if they were important meetings that you can’t miss, cancel or postpone. Be very serious about them because it’s all about commitment – if you’re not committed, if you’re not serious about taking time for yourself, you will never make it happen.
TAKE ACTION ~~~ Work on your agenda and assign 3 to 5 breaks every day in the form of a walk, lunch, workout at the gym or anything that can distract you. Do it to improve your well-being, boost your productivity and recharge your mind so that you can better serve your clients. Make it a daily or weekly commitment!
Brain Fitness Coach & Life-Work Balance Strategist helping busy professionals improve their well-being and adopt a healthier, more productive lifestyle