By taking strategic breaks, you keep yourself in a state of flow and maximize productivity all day long. But how do you do this and what does this look like practically speaking? The first step is knowing yourself and how long your mind-body can be fully focused and engaged on a particular task without craving a break of some sort.
For most people, this time period if somewhere between twenty minutes and one hour. For this reason, we would recommend that most people focus/start their work periods to be twenty or twenty-five minutes with a five-minute strategic break after each work block. If done properly, the strategic break will renew the mind so that your focus can be optimized during the next work block.
After completing five of six of these work blocks, we would recommend taking longer strategic break or approximately one hour (or thirty minutes). But what should we do during our short (and longer) strategic breaks?
Below are a few Ideas for Short Breaks
Taking regular breaks from work is crucial for energy management. To avoid feeling exhausted when you get home from work, and to have energy for the things you really want to do outside of work, aim to take a break every 90-120 minutes. Breaks can be as short as 1-2 minutes and should be tailored to what you need in that moment. These short breaks are designed to increase our energy and are called “boost breaks.”
- If you’ve been sitting or standing in one space for an extended period of time: take a physical boost break. This can be stretching, a walk, or a quick workout. This type of break doesn’t just help you maintain your energy, but it also helps counteract the repetitive motions of sitting, standing or typing for extended periods of time.
- If you’ve been stuck on a task for a while or are getting ready to switch tasks, try a mental boost break. You can do a puzzle such as a Sudoku, a crossword or word search. Coloring or reading for pleasure are also great ways to give your brain a break and help you mentally switch between tasks.
- If you’ve been working alone for a long time and haven’t talked to another person in a while, take a social boost break. Have a conversation with someone who you work with. Having a word search or Sudoku race brings in the element of the mental boost break. Send a thank you card or email to give (and receive!) a happiness boost.
- On the other hand, if you’ve been working with people for an extended period of time, take a moment for yourself by going for a quick walk or taking a mental boost break alone.
- If you’re feeling exhausted and haven’t connected with your purpose at work in a while, try taking a spiritual boost break. Take a moment to reflect on why you do the work you do. Create a smile file or seek out funny or heartwarming photos and videos. Get out into nature for a moment or listen to a song that makes you feel that greater sense of connectedness.
These breaks can be tailored to any kind of work and any kind of need. Don’t be afraid to try new types of breaks and find what works for you. The purpose is to avoid feeling drained every time you finish work. Working through breaks can be a tough habit to break, but it’s worth it!