By now, you may agree with the research about how taking breaks helps you to reduce stress and be more productive. However, you can still wind up reaching the end of your day and realizing that you forgot about the downtime.
Granted, it’s difficult to step away if you’re performing surgery or putting out house fires. However, most of us have some leeway to catch our breath at work and home.
Before you spend another day toiling nonstop, consider these suggestions. Find out how to take more breaks and make them more effective.
- Plan your schedule. Put breaks on your calendar instead of expecting them to happen spontaneously. Block out time for rest, just like you would do for a meeting.
- Experiment with timing. There are many theories about how long a break ought to be. Two popular strategies call for taking 5 minutes off every 25 minutes or 17 minutes off every hour. Test different options until you find what works best for you. Have you ever tried either of these or do do something else works better for you?
- Use technology. Various programs and devices can help you. Set an alarm on your watch or download an app for your phone.
- Create a trigger. You can also jog your memory offline. Tie a purple ribbon around your wrist or put a banana next to your laptop. Each time you look at them, you’ll remember to pause. My favorite is to set alarms in my phone and title them, for example: 12:00 p.m. “Switch from Social Media to Follow Up Calls.
- Contemplate your purpose. Strengthening your intentions increases the chances that you’ll follow through. Spend a few minutes before bed thinking about why you want to take more breaks.
- Keep at it. It takes time to form a new habit. With enough practice, you may automatically recognize when you need to take a break.
- Move around. Use your breaks to get some exercise. Stand up and stretch in between phone calls. Take a lunch time yoga class. Put on some music and dance when you’re doing your taxes at home.
- Go outside. Appreciating nature can energize and relax you. Go for a walk around the block. If you can’t leave the building, look out a window.
- Rest your eyes. Do exercises to relieve eye strain if you’ve been on your computer most of the day. Roll your eyes clockwise and counterclockwise. Rub your hands together until they’re warm and press them gently over your eyes.
- Take a nap. If you’re sleep deprived, you may need something more intense. Some companies like Google and Nike even offer sleep pods and nap rooms.
- Be social. Do a little networking during your downtime. Visit a coworker’s office for a chat or invite a new hire out for coffee.
- Eat light. Healthy snacks can help you refuel. Keep supplies like nuts and yogurt drinks in your desk and office refrigerator.
- Meditate briefly. Even a few minutes of meditation can have a profound impact on your mood and performance. Close your office door and gather your thoughts. Ask your employer to offer a mindfulness break in the conference room after lunch for anyone who wants to participate.
- Help others. Performing acts of kindness will make you more cheerful and motivated. Put your housework or expense reports aside for a few minutes. Call an elderly relative or buy donuts for the office.
- Think positive. Your breaktime activities can be anything that gives you a boost. Maybe you like watching and sharing funny cat videos. Maybe you like learning to speak Hungarian or playing the harmonica.
Take care of your health and accomplish more by taking regular breaks. You’ll feel happier and increase your concentration.