I am going to teach you the following:
- A working definition for a strategic work break
- 3 Reasons why you may need to practice taking work breaks
- 4 Tips for how to take strategic work breaks
I mean intentionally taking a break from your work, so you can be more productive. “Intentionally” means that you need to make a plan aimed at your goal of being more productive. “Break” can be as short as 1-5 minutes or as long as 1-2 hours.
“Your work” may be chores around the house, interacting with friends and families in less than pleasant ways, or your occupation. “Productive” is a measured by accomplishing your goals.
Here are my top reasons for suggesting that you consider strategic breaks:
1. You are not a robot or machine. You cannot work, work, work and expect to sustain your productive. And you surely cannot expect to sustain balance with the rest of your life – positive mindset, health, finances, relationships, and contributions of service.
Without breaks you are subject to experience a long term break called burn out or depression.
2. Strategic breaks can give you energy to be more productive. I learned from jogging that if I jogged for four minutes, walked for one minute, and kept repeating this cycle that I jogged further in a shorter amount of time than when I simply jogged straight through.
Just a short break can give you enough energy to go further than if you keep pressing your way.
3. Your goals should move you to be as productive as you can be. You should have some things that you want to accomplish in your life that moves you to want to do all that you can to accomplish them. It may be building a retirement account, taking a trip, maintaining a relationship, or any number of things.
If they will help you accomplish your goals, you should at least consider the idea of taking strategic breaks.
Here are my top tips for taking strategic breaks:
1. Remember that taking breaks is an art not a science. There will be days when you need to take either longer or more frequent breaks because you are not motivated to do the work at hand.
Other days you are really in a state of flow and you may not need as many breaks, or the breaks may be shorter in time. It is not a one size fit all situation.
2. Start with a tentative plan. Let’s say you have to work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. You may take a 15 minute break at 11 a.m., lunch hour at 1 p.m., 15 minute break at 4 p.m., and leave at 6 p.m. You are working in roughly two hour blocks.
Until you can work for 25 minutes straight with a five minute break, you may want to try working for 20 minutes with a one or two minute break.
3. Do something doing your breaks. In one to two minutes, you could stand up, stretch, and give your eyes a break from the computer monitor. The 15 minute breaks can be used to go for a walk, check email, or look at social media. You also have time to take a 5-10 minute power nap. The lunch hour may include lunch, walking, and enjoyable conversation or reading something that is inspiriting to you.
You may want to make a list of “things to do” during your one to two minute, 15 minute, and 1 hour breaks. So when you get to the break, you don’t waste time trying to figure out what you are going to do.
4. Experiment to see what works best for you today. On last week, you may have had a productive week. However, that was last week. This is a new week, and things may not be as satisfying.
Be open to trying different things to do during the breaks, the length of the breaks, and the frequency of the breaks. If you are on a roll, you may want to keep on rolling.
So, there you have a working definition for a strategic work break, three reasons to consider taking them, and four tips for how to take them. However, knowing is not the same as doing. Use this information to help you stay focused on reaching your goals.
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