When was the last time you took a break?
No, really. When was the last time you got up from your seat and took a 10 minute break?
If you’re anything like me, it was probably a few hours ago, and only to go to the bathroom or heat up food before going right back to work. No stopping to gaze out the window, rock out to your favorite song, or read a few pages of whatever book your into at the moment.
And while productivity is great, working yourself to the bone is not.
It’s a recipe for disaster, burnout, mediocre work, and failure. Which is the exact opposite of what we’re trying for.
The days I spend 10+ hours in front of the computer forcing myself to work and be “productive” are the days where I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and getting nothing done. I sit for hours on Facebook and Twitter, getting sucked into the black hole of social media lurking, only to forget what I was working on. It takes me hours to write one blog post. And that newsletter I was supposed to send out…yeah. Doesn’t happen either.
The days I take breaks and go for a walk with the dog, take a real lunch break out of my office, read books for pleasure, and take kitchen dance party breaks, I feel more productive, creative, and ready to take on whatever task comes my way. I also check off just about everything on my to-do list, bang out blog posts for the entire week, and brainstorm ideas for new projects.
Which kind of day would you choose—one where you are spinning your wheels or one where you feel productive and creative?
Give yourself a break.
The goal of a break is to get away from what you were doing for a set period of time so that when you return, you have a fresh mind and a new perspective. Here are some ways to help you get up and give yourself a break.
Move your body.
Getting up and moving your body is necessary when you sit at a desk for 8+ hours a day. It helps to get the blood flowing, to stretch out your body, and give you a new perspective. It also just plain feels good to get outside and breath in fresh air and bask in the sun. If going outside isn’t possible, you can stretch, do yoga, find an exercise video or segment and do that instead. Whatever you do, move your body.
Taking meditation breaks throughout the day can help you be more focused and centered, move through areas where you feel stuck, and help you feel reinvigorated. There are great meditation resources out there, including this one from Meditation Oasis for a Mini Break from Work or Study.
Get a healthy snack.
Ever notice that it’s hard to think straight when you’re hungry? Fuel your body and your brain with a healthy snack like apple slices with peanut butter, hummus and veggies, trail mix, or your favorite piece of fruit.
Listen to your favorite song.
Music has the power to change your mood within seconds. Why not rock out to your favorite tune or two in between projects. Some of my favorite I-need-a-break-so-I’m-rocking-out-to-these-tunes are: Stompa by Serena Ryder, If I Loved You by Delta Rae, Only Love by Ben Howard, Sydney (I’ll Come Running) by Brett Dennen, Everybody Talks by Neon Trees, and In The House of Stone and Light by Martin Paige (that last 30 seconds of the song is magical).
Read something totally unrelated to anything.
Grab a magazine, a new book from the library, or a freebie from Amazon. Whatever it is, make sure it’s totally unrelated to anything. No self-help books. No books about work-related topics. Just something totally fun and interesting. When I really need a break, I head to the library and check out as many Stephanie Plum books as I can.
Play a game.
Playing and having fun are definitely great ways to break up the day. Even something as simple as a game of solitaire can help you zone out and clear your brain. I try to take “Puppy Play Breaks” throughout the day. Helps me move, laugh, and bond with The Pupperoni.
Take a nap.
I am a huge proponent of naps. Particularly when you are tired and your brain synapses aren’t firing properly. A 20-30 minute nap can be super effective and help you make connections that you wouldn’t have made otherwise. Just make sure that 20-30 minutes doesn’t turn into 2-3 hours…
I’ve shared some of my favorite ways to take breaks throughout the day. What are your favorite productivity-boosting breaks?