How to take a break effectively
“Reaching the top requires taking a good break every time you need it! On the way up, you must never hesitate to stop for a while!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan
Breaks are the most important part of your productivity! Whether it’s throughout your day or your year, looking forward to a break helps us remain focused when we’re working and fuels us with purpose and energy. We all know that it’s important to take breaks, from 15-minute breathers throughout your workday to weekend getaways throughout the year, but we often don’t end up using this precious time as effectively as we could.
We need to know how to get the most out of our breaks for them to actually do what they’re meant to: refresh, energise and inspire us! We’ve put together a little guidance just for you on how to take a break that works. Before we jump in, though, we’d like to suggest a rule: No screen time. To take a truly restorative break you need to clear your mind and calm your nervous system. Social media, YouTube, Netflix etc. has the opposite effect. It stimulates you, causes anxiety and takes you away from the present moment.
Ok! Now that we have the rules out of the way, let’s dive in to how you can take a break effectively.
Do you ever find yourself at the edge of your seat, about to stand up and take a break when you think to yourself “just one more email, one more chapter, 100 more words, just ten more minutes..” and an hour later you’re still sitting there, with a sore butt? Us humans can have a tendency to overdo things. We often try and get as much done as we can in as short an amount of time as possible. Segmenting focus time and break time into stints can help maintain our energy levels and focus for extended periods. It helps us avoid overdoing it and burning ourselves out.
The Pomodoro technique is a productivity technique in which you focus on a certain task for 25 minutes, take a five-minute break and repeat for four rounds, after which you take a longer thirty-minute break. If you’re interested in trying it out there are tons of awesome study buddy Youtube videos to guide you.
Another (oddly specific) technique that’s emerged from data collection is to focus on a task for 52 minutes and break for 17 minutes. The best thing to do is experiment with a few time ranges to discover what works best for you. Set a timer to remind you when your break is up, and then stick to it.
Change of scenery
They say sitting is the new smoking…. And “they’re” probably right. Getting up from your seat and moving around is necessary for your health and productivity. A change of scenery helps shift your brain from focus mode to break mode. It refreshes, renews and can shift your perspective.
Getting up to take a walk, even if it’s down a corridor or around a parking lot will stimulate blood flow and re-energise you. When you come back to your workspace you will feel renewed. Even just standing in a different space for a few minutes will have the same effect.
The most important part is to enjoy your break. Remember how the point of a break is to refresh, energise and inspire? Well, if that’s gonna happen, you’ve got to luxuriate in every second of your break. We often get into the habit of trying to be productive with our breaks, which is totally ineffective. The most productive thing you can do is to have fun and relax, whether it’s five minutes of dancing to a song you love or a week at the beach without social media. Use your break to feel sunshine on your skin, laugh or do sweet, sweet nothing. Don’t make your break a task!
Some healthy break ideas:
Walk or stand outside
Have a conversation face-to-face or on a voice call
Listen to music
Get creative (doodle, sing, write)
Make some tea
Drink a glass of water
Eat a healthy snack (no junk food, try fruit and nuts)
Read a page of an inspiring book
Take a 20-minute power nap (if napping works for you)
Each person is different in their attention span and what they enjoy, so the type of break that works best for you will be unique. As long as you’re taking them regularly and getting the most out of them to truly re-energise, your productivity will be on point. Check out our online learning library for a wide selection of courses that can teach you more about healthy productivity hacks.