Do you remember awhile back when I wrote about taking regular breaks improving productivity? If not, pop over and read it then come back. I’ll wait.
Now that we all agree that taking regular breaks is good for overall output, let’s move onto how to make the most of your breaks. The goal of workday breaks is to recharge your battery and get back the business of being you, only happier. Easy, right?
There are a couple of schools of thoughts on the whole break situation. First, distractions, like your to-do list hanging over your head can lead to lowered productivity. Some employers have started extending the lunch hour or allowing employees to come in early and leave early, just so that they can make time for their personal to-do list. I guess they figure that an employee without a million distractions will be more focused at work.
Soooo, one way to spend your breaks would be to make a do-able to-do list that you can check off as the day progresses.
Maybe during break one you are going to pop online and pay bills. Break two you are going to make that doctor’s appointment for little Suzy, and break three you are going to respond to personal emails. If you take a break every hour or hour and a half, in an eight hour day, you could feasibly wipe off 5-8 items off of your to-do list.
You could allow your mind to completely focus on work during your work time, because you know there will be time to get tick away at your to-do list throughout the day. And, as an added bonus, you’d go home a little lighter, and feeling a little more accomplished.
Okay, on the flip side, some experts feel that breaks should be solely to refuel YOU, and your to-do list should be all but forgotten. So, you could get up and chat with a co-worker, read for 15 minutes or so, take a quick stroll around the block. If you have longer breaks, hit the gym or the open road for a run/bike ride. Recharge YOU, by doing something YOU like. If you are a parent, it might be the only opportunity you have all day to be minutely selfish.
Both schools of thought recommend getting at least one of your breaks in earlier in the morning. Working clear through until lunch without a pause leads to headaches, lack of focus, and lowered productivity.
I personally like to take a loooong stroll with Lucy, or head outside. So, I typically take 3 longer breaks. I have found that sometimes getting away from my desk clears my head, and like it or not, allows me to come up with my best work ideas. I think both methods serve a purpose–one maximizes your time, while the other maximizes your personal development.
So, which will it be or is it for you?