“Learn to pause… or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you.”
~ Doug King
One of the keys to make you able to do the freakin’ work at work, is to take the freakin’ break (#TTFB) so you can truly #DTFW!
Yup, one of the most important parts of doing the work is to not work at times. To step away from work, to give your mind a chance to decompress and refocus. When we’re busy, we mistakenly think that working harder and for longer hours will help us get it done.
Take a break and watch the video below, or read the transcript that follows.
All work, and no pause, however, can be counterproductive, leading to decreased efficiency, decreased work quality, and eventual burnout. Instead, opt to take your freakin’ breaks … regularly.
But remember that not all breaks are created equal, so if you’re going to take time out from your to do’s, gun for quality.
In 2015, Researchers at Baylor University surveyed 95 employees over a five day workweek. They collected data from over 900 breaks—including coffee breaks, lunch breaks, and shorter breaks to socialize or take care of a non-work related task.
Research showed that breaks proved more beneficial when workers used them to do something they like. You may not get the rejuvenation you need if you run an errand, or clean your office, or pay bills on-line, so choose your down-time wisely – take a walk, read a book, listen to music, chat with co-workers…things you enjoy.
Now that being said, many of us will admit that we enjoy scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, or playing a few games of Candy Crush, or texting friends… but I want to discourage you from digital downtime. It’s not down time.
If you want to take a break to re-energize your brain, I’m sorry to tell you… you’ve got to disconnect entirely. If you just lean back in your office chair and take 20 to scroll emails or social media, your mind is still occupied, your body is still inactive, and your eyes are still being worn down by the screens in front of you.
Check in briefly if you need to, then get up, get out of your office and move…preferably outdoors!
You’ve no doubt heard that prolonged sitting is bad for your overall health. So, when you get up and go, not only do you create a psychological distinction between work and break, but if you add in a walk, or do some stretches, the exercise stops you from becoming mentally stagnant. It can help your creativity. It’ll also release serotonin and dopamine in your brain, two neurotransmitters that can boost your mood and lower your risk for mental health disorders. Dopamine also has the pleasant side effect of improving your memory.
You know what else releases dopamine? Having conversations with people you like.
This got me thinking… maybe we should take breaks like smokers…AND NO, I don’t want you to take up smoking… but we can learn a few tricks from them. First off, smokers will rarely skip their break because they’ve made it part of their routine and the break is good for their productivity. Secondly, when smokers take a break they’re usually standing outdoors having conversations with their colleagues. Laughing, telling stories, getting caught up on what’s new. Those moments of connection can do wonders for the psyche.
Now, when you break, you’ll probably want to grab a bite to eat, and since regular refuelling is beneficial for your working mind… eat up…but eat smart. Pack healthy snacks and have them on hand throughout the day. You won’t find healthy in a vending machine, and if you go looking for food options when you’re tired and stressed, you’ll seek out comfort foods like chips or muffins. Stress will win!
Sure, you’ll get a quick fix from the ‘fun food’, but the effects will wear off in minutes and you’ll be left in a blood-sugar crash. Not productive.
Instead, opt for fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and foods high in healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. These will give you long-term energy and help you stay healthier in the process.
Remember the research from Baylor University? Another of its findings was that your morning break packs a bigger punch than your afternoon one, so if you must choose, opt for the mid-morning productivity pause. Or take shorter breaks.
In last week’s Supercharge Your Productivity video, I talked about Ultradian Rhythms and the idea that we work best with 90 or so minutes of focused effort followed by 20-30 minutes of down-time.
Yes, longer breaks are good, but I’d rather you take 5 quality minutes than not stop at all. Take a short walk, go somewhere quiet and just breathe, read for awhile, take a power nap. I’ll say it again. A short, quality pause is better than no break at all.
When you take a quality break, research shows that the recovery of energy, concentration and motivation you gain, will lead to less headaches, eye strain and lower back pain over time.
Plus, you’re likely to experience greater job satisfaction, a heightened sense of belonging, and a decrease in emotional exhaustion that can lead to burnout. Not to mention higher productivity every time to get back at it!
You deserve a break today. So #TTFB! Do it wisely, and when you return to your desk, you’ll feel refreshed, relieved, and ready to #DTFW.
Until next time, I’m Michelle Cederberg helping you transform your work and your life, one recharge at a time.
Empowering today’s dreamers, leaders and go-getters to create the life and career they want.