Ever have a day like this? I was planning on getting some stuff done in my office when I found out that there was no water in the house. That’s never a good sign. After some investigative work, I called the well pump guys and was waiting for them to call me back. My phone rang, but it was my mom. Her car wouldn’t start. I drove across town to her house and jump started her car and then followed her over to have the battery tested. Yep, it was bad and they replaced it in a matter of minutes. Whew! Started driving home from the store where I left my mom and got a call from my daughter. Her car won’t start. “I’ll look at it when I get home in a few minutes.” I mutter. I already know that the battery is dead in her car, something is draining her new battery down. I pull my vehicle up to hers, nose to nose, pop the hoods and connect the jumper cables when….the well pump guys show up! Yay! I let the battery charge up while I tell them about my water problem (or lack of water problem). Oh my goodness! Jumping from one thing to another to another! I needed a break! I felt like Sweet Brown…”ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Have you ever felt like that? I know you have. We all have. Things start piling up and we feel like we’re falling behind at work or we feel like we’re being overwhelmed by “stuff” and so our first thought is “I just need to put in more hours” or “If I come in earlier and stay later” or “If I just eat lunch at my desk while I work” or “I’m going to chain myself to my desk and not move until it’s all done”. It sounds good in theory but the reality is that it’s not productive. Yes, in the short-term it works. You have a project land on your desk that needs your immediate attention then you may need to work late or come in early or eat at your desk. The problem is when you feel like that every day. In the long-term it creates burn out, fatigue, discontented, as well as stomach issues and possibly heart issues! The solution: Take A Break.
I hear you, you are sounding like Sweet Brown (seriously, watch the video!) but you really DO need to take a break. The benefits to taking a break far outweigh any time that you think you will lose. Taking a break re-energizes you and refocuses you.
Here are some things that you can do to help you take a break:
- Don’t Overbook Yourself – don’t pack your schedule so full and so tight that you have no wiggle room. Don’t book back to back meeting (meetings run long), there will be unexpected phone calls, people interrupt, life and working is happening around you. Give yourself some wiggle room.
- Schedule Breaks – when its lunch time, eat lunch. When it’s break time, take it. Go and pour yourself a cup of coffee or get a drink. A friend of mine uses part of her lunch break to take a walk and get exercise. She looks forward to lunch because she can get away from work and focus on her health. Do you feel sleepy in the afternoon? Schedule a break in there to get up and move around.
- Be Intentional About Taking A Break – did you know that your body goes through cyclical rhythms everyday? They’re called Ultradian Rhythm and they are basically the cycles that our body goes through every 90 to 120 minutes. Basically the science behind them says that our brains can only focus for about 90 minutes before it needs a break (think about how long movies are!). Every 90 minutes or so, you need to take a break. Some people prefer the Pomodoro Technique where you work for 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break. Then after 4 sessions (approx. 2 hours) you take a 15-30 minute break.
When you do take a break, do something different:
- Take a walk
- Check social media (follow me on Facebook or Twitter!)
- Eat a piece of fruit
- Pour a cup of coffee and chat with a co-worker (IF they are on break too!)
If you want to get the most out of your day, take a break, you have to make time for that! Breaks help you to be more focused, more productive, and more efficient. You NEED to take breaks not only for your mental stability but also for your physical health. In order to do your best work, take a break!