Taking a break isn’t a new phenomenon as you’ll know, I’m sure you’ve been told ‘look away from your screen every thirty minutes and focus on something in the distance‘ some time in your career? I know that’s mainly to rest the eyes but the principle is the same ‘stop what you’re doing and refresh’ and do you know what, I’ve found it works.
It was actually my cleaner, Clare, (no I am not posh) who suggested this to me, she’s also a very good long-term friend and single Mum to two young boys so she knows a thing or two about how to keep motivated and as productive as possible.
I’d been working on a huge project for a client putting together an online course in Microsoft Word ready for it to be converted into PDFs. It required a lot of concentration to ensure fonts were the same, the layouts were matching across documents and image sizes were consistent. I was enjoying it thoroughly but found I kept losing concentration and I didn’t want to be making mistakes on the clients time.
Clare arrived and I mentioned it to her as she polished around me. She suggested I take a break every 45 minutes. I’d heard about this before in Facebook groups and read about it on LinkedIn posts but to be honest, I’d ignored it as some woo woo stuff.
But if Clare recommends it, then I was willing to give it a go. Three months later, I love it and now every time I am on a task that’s going to go over an hour I’ll take a break and it helps so much. I return refreshed and also a task doesn’t seem to arduous when you know you’ve got a break coming up. I get less tired too, which is always a bonus.
I see no reason why you can’t try it out either? What big task have you got on your to-do list that you might be dreading, procrastinating over or that’s taking you much longer than it should be? Perhaps you can adopt the 45 minute rule?
How long should the breaks be?
That’s entirely up to you. You might find it really hard at first, so just take small ones – perhaps five to ten minutes.
Whatever you choose, be realistic. If you’re working in 45 minute bursts and taking 2 hour breaks you’re not going to get an awful lot done, which will cause stress.
What should you do on your breaks?
The first thing not to do is any work, that also means putting your phone down in case you feel the urge to check those emails or see a LinkedIn notification that might be a new lead.
Make a coffee or tea, something as simple as waiting for a kettle to boil and the tea to brew is a good enough break.
Get something to eat, some fruit perhaps? Make a smoothie? Get some of your five a day in to really give that brain and gut some energy.
If you work from home, prepare your evening meal – perhaps do a little prep each time you take a break so it’s virtually ready when you finish for the day.
Step outside, breathe in some fresh air (or not if you live in the City)
Go for a walk around the block, it’s amazing what you see without your phone. Local drug deals in my town usually, but there’s some great architecture when you look high above your normal view. Try it.
Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it!