Mastering the Art of the ‘Short Break’

Man leaving the office

Let’s face it – we cannot constantly work. On the flip side, we cannot get lost in break time to the point of no return. For most of us, we’ve been down both paths of working non-stop and not working much. Either-or, it usually doesn’t end well.

Plan Your Breaks

Choose three or four times a day when you will get out of your seat for 5-10 minutes and do something completely unrelated to work. Incorporate these times into your schedule and set a reminder on your phone. At first, this may feel like it is hindering your work, but it will help you in the long run.

Decide On Activities That Get You Moving

You should focus on activities that are beneficial to your state of mind at work. Do a lap around the office, go out on a quick coffee run, visit a friend down the hall or in the neighbourhood and spark a conversation. If you work at home like me, you could walk around the block, fix a healthy snack or do a quick and easy chore. The goal here is to get your blood flowing. Sitting is the new smoking, after all!

Leave Your Phone Out of It

I know, break time is all about getting away from work, but our phones are a hub for basically everything now: email, phone calls, Google Hangouts – you name it. Unless you’ve got your device on airplane mode and you are dancing to your Rdio channel or using your pedometer, it’s not allowed! There seem to be mysterious stresses associated with being constantly connected, so put your phone away during these short intervals.

Keep Time

The reality is, you’re going to have to go back to work. Make sure – since you’ve left your phone at your desk, as promised – that you are keeping track of your allotted break time! Whether you wear a wristwatch or keep an eye of the clock – or, fine, your phone on airplane mode, ensure you’re keeping time.

How do you maintain productive breaks?

2 thoughts on “Mastering the Art of the ‘Short Break’”

  1. Awesome post! I agree with every single one of your points :).

    I’m fortunate enough to work at a company that is entirely flexible about when you work, where you work and how you work.

    This means that I’ll often only show up to work once I’ve had a good night’s rest (often coming in for 10am), and am most productive.

    In terms of taking breaks, I find that long walks with a colleague are the best way to refresh my mind. There is one caveat to this, however; you must agree with your colleague that work IS NOT to be discussed under any circumstances. During the walk, the conversation should be about your personal life and personal life only.

    I also find that a change of scenery is the absolute best way to increase productivity and re-energize. Some days I will spend half the day at a coffee shop, others I’ll work entirely from home. There’s something about changing your external stimulus that really kicks the brain into gear.

    Here’s an article you might find interesting, that speaks to your point about sitting being the new smoking – it recommends that you stand at work.

    http://brighterlife.ca/2015/02/17/avoid-risks-of-sitting-stand-up-for-your-health/?WT.mc_id=en-ca:Social:Networks:BL:BrighterLifeCA:SLF

    1. Thanks for checking out my blog!

      I am happy to hear more companies are adapting to the team’s needs – especially when it comes to sleep, because a. I love sleep and b. It’s pretty necessary! I work from home so I usually get started around 9:30am – any earlier and I’m a zombie.

      Going on walks is the perfect break! I like that you’re tag-teaming it with a colleague and that no work talk is a ground rule. It is a break, after all!

      I agree with you on changing scenery. I work alone so I have made each room in my home a work space at some point. However, since I don’t have an “office” per-say, I will work at cafes with fellow colleagues or freelancers sometimes as well and we will take breaks to talk (admittedly not always planned).

      Thanks for the article – I like the idea of walking around while you work, though exercising seems challenging. I may try it out sometime but I will have to really push myself for that one.

      Thanks for sharing your “short break” experiences here – it really is becoming the norm.

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