Do you feel defeated because no matter how hard you work, you can never keep up? And after a long day at work you come home exhausted with no energy to spare, leaving you to wonder why you’re so tired all the time. I hear you! I lived in that state too until I learned that the way society wants us to work is extremely inefficient and holds no basis in human physiology.
We live in a society where we have been conditioned to be “on” 24/7/365. You’re expected to answer emails, texts, phone calls and more immediately while also working for 8-10 hours straight and get everything done. That’s insanity and needs to stop. We are not robots!
Time has come to wrap up this 6 Foundational Habits for Productivity series with our habit no. 6 – Take Breaks. If you missed the first 5 habits, click HERE.
Your Brain Need Breaks To Function
If you start paying attention your level of focus and concentration goes down after about 60-90 minutes depending on the task you’re doing. That’s because your brain gets tired and needs to regenerate.
Your brain goes through something called an ultradian rhythm, think of it as a wave with peaks of highs followed by lows about every 90 minutes. When your brain is on a high peak you are able to focus well. When it’s coming down you start losing focus, and that is when your brain needs you to take a 10-20 minute break.
If you are not allowing the brain to take a break, you’re messing with your body’s natural oscillation of hormone exchanges. Not only does your focus and energy go down but if you are continually ‘pushing through’ operating as if you’re a robot, you’re flirting with the path to burnout.
In other words, if you want to work smarter not harder, keep a high level of energy both physically and mentally you must take breaks at least every 90 minutes.
A great tool to help you work in focused blocks of time followed by a break is the Pomodoro Technique. You can for example work in 45 minute focused blocks of time followed by a 15 minute break, or adjust the timer based on what works best for you.
But I Don’t Have Time to Take Breaks
If the thought of taking a longer break when you step away from work for 10-20 minutes every hour freaks you out because you think it’s not productive and you have so much to do, then start with taking 5 minute breaks every hour. That will make you realize how beneficial taking breaks are and you will make the time for longer breaks.
Those 5 minute breaks will provide you with a small boost of energy and help you throughout the day. You can do a quick meditation, close your eyes, maybe a walk around the building, do some jumping jacks, dance to music or just sit on a park bench watching the birds.
Then work your way up to 20 minute breaks. And no, those are not ‘let’s surf social media for 20 minute breaks’ – these are supposed to be real breaks when you step away from work! Move your body during those breaks too! We’re not built to sit all day.
And take a lunch break, will ya! Seriously! Taking breaks, including a lunch break, will help you stay energized, which will help you stay focused, which will help you get work done and will help you feel amazing at the end of the day so you can have a life too!
Breaks Are Energy and Productivity Boosters
You must manage your energy in order to stay productive! Like mentioned the way you do that is by taking breaks throughout the day, fueling your body, getting your sleep, getting your exercise and reducing input, but wait, there’s more!
You also need to schedule in longer breaks like weekend trips, vacation and days away from social media, computers and that non-stop beeping cell-phone. When was the last time you had a day off from something as simple as your smartphone or computer? Or even a half a day? Schedule in digital free days too.
If you don’t believe me on the importance of giving your brain a break, at least read the NY Times article mentioned in this post. Print that article out and remind everyone around you that it’s productive taking breaks.
Action Step: Get serious about these habits that you have now learned. Take sleep, exercise, nutrition, morning routine, reduced input and breaks serious. You may not realize that you are living in a mediocre state of energy. I want you to live an amazing life! To experience the kind of energy you have within you, if you get your 6 Foundational Habits in shape. You CAN feel amazing and have the energy to do the things you want to do. But it all starts with you and self-care.
If you felt this blog post was of value to you please share with others so they can learn how to stop spinning and start living too. I appreciate you!