You start your day and get dialed in to what you need to accomplish that day. Your “to-do” list expands faster than you can remove items from it and you have not even pulled out of the driveway. Whether you work inside your home or outside of your home, the demands on your time are never-ending. How could you even consider taking a few minutes to do nothing? To take a break?
One of my summer reads challenged me to start to take breaks in my day and in my life. The book Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness shared sound evidence stating that I would actually come out ahead if I took a few short breaks in my day.
This is counter-intuitive to the way my mind works. I feel like I will get more done if I keep plugging away, with no stops. Okay, maybe a bathroom break every once in a while, but only when it is an emergency! Brad and Steve were very convincing in their argument and their research. Convincing enough to motivate me to give it a try. It unexpectedly turned into my own personal experiment.
I started by setting the alarm on my phone for a morning and afternoon break. Once the alarm went off, I would find a natural stopping point in my work and take a ten minute break. One thing I have learned, before I get too much farther, is the longer I wait to take my break after may alarm sounds, the more likely I am to keep working and forget my break entirely.
Once my alarm sounds I head to the back steps of our office building for my break. The recommendations of this break is to allow your mind to wander and relax, not strategize your work for the rest of your day. There has been evidence shown that going outside is beneficial, and walking or adding in some sort of movement, is great too. I have heard of individuals going up and down the staircases at their work. Wow, what great exercise that would be. Each one of us work in completely different environments, so we do the best with what we have. The key is to allow our minds to wander during this time.
Here is what my experiment has revealed. The days I take my morning and afternoon break, along with my lunch break, I feel less “brain fried” at the end of the day. No joke! I have found dramatic results. The days I forget to take my breaks, I drive home like a zombie. My brain is wasted. I find that when I take my breaks during the day, I can work well all the way until the end of the day. When I forget a break, I start to slow down by the end of my work day. When I take my breaks, I feel better and have more energy left for my evenings.
I have to tell you that I did not expect these results when I start taking breaks. The results are unmistakable. Breaks make a HUGE difference. I work better and I have more left over at the end of the day.
Two ten minute breaks and a lunch break is what I challenge you to try. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss one, because I still forget one here and there. Give it a few weeks and pay attention to the difference it makes. I know, for me, this is a lifelong habit that I want to create.
Here’s to trying something new, creating a habit that is great for you and those you love!