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Planning Your Work-Break Schedule

For some reason we as humans find ourselves feeling guilty when we take a break, we think that most of the day has to be taken up by work and ‘breaks’ (the word itself makes you think of a stop in the running of things) have to be few and far between. I’m not going to tell you that you should flip that dynamic around and spend most of your day on a break because a) you’ll probably get in trouble with your teacher and more importantly, b) I’ll get in trouble.

For some reason we as humans find ourselves feeling guilty when we take a break, we think that most of the day has to be taken up by work and ‘breaks’ (the word itself makes you think of a stop in the running of things) have to be few and far between. I’m not going to tell you that you should flip that dynamic around and spend most of your day on a break because a) you’ll probably get in trouble with your teacher and more importantly, b) I’ll get in trouble.​

If you learn how to make your breaks more effective then you’ll have a more easy and positive working day, here’s how and why:

Getting to know your optimum work rate

Find out when breaks are most effective for you - this may take some trial and error, what you need to do is figure out how long you can stay ‘in the zone’ before your mind starts to wonder. If you have no idea where to start, try working for half an hour before taking a 5-minute break and keep doing this 3 or 4 times before you take a longer half an hour break. If you find that you can work longer before needing a break and it disrupts your flow or alternatively, you find that you can’t work that long without a break then adjust it to what feels right for you!

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Active body, active mind

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It’s important that you ‘work’ some exercise in your day (sorry). Being active makes the blood flow to your brain and so you stay focused and work better! If you’ve been sitting for a long time; get up, stretch, go for a walk. When you’re at your desk make sure you’re not hunched over, this is bad for your spine and will give you back pain - you’ll work better when your posture is straight and this is best for your health too.

Get motivated

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Do something productive in your work break that gets you excited to go back to your desk - if watching motivational YouTube videos is your thing then do that! If you’re someone that gets pumped after listening to music then you should create a playlist filled with the songs that inspire you to go back and do your best work. A great way to exercise your mind in a fun way is to do a small puzzle or games that challenge you like a crossword, word games or trivia - there are hundreds of these in the app store, my personal favourite is words with friends

Hungry

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For Success! (I’m really sorry about that one) I just needed a snappy title to tell you to eat wisely and that was the best I could do. We’ve all made the mistake of eating too much during our break and feeling exhausted and sluggish when it’s time to return to the desk - it’s the worst and you should avoid it. The best foods to eat during your breaks are those which are healthy and give you energy - foods like fruit, nuts and yoghurts are healthy and filling. During your longer lunch break avoid big meals with high fat and carb content - these are not only unhealthy but will also make you tired and less productive.

Relax

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But not too much! Many fall victim to the ‘break’ trap, this is when you become so relaxed during your break that the last thing you want to do is get back to work - you’ve wound all the way down. One of the worst things you can do on your work break is taking a nap unless you’re very disciplined and have cracked how to do power naps (you’re like in the 1%) then you should avoid sleeping as you’ll wake up groggy and cranky.

What you should do is relax by doing breathing exercises and stretching - this will relax you but allow you to keep focused at the same time, in fact, you can do these at your desk too!