Why you shouldn’t feel guilty for taking breaks
It can be easy to work long hours without stopping for a breather or stepping away from the screen. The shift in 2020 from on-site to off-site work has added pressure on many who feel unable to step away from their online presence. It stripped us of our kitchen coffee breaks, commute to the office, and much needed after-work catch-ups. Perhaps now, more than ever, we need to re-evaluate the importance that breaks have on our mental and physical health, and re-gain some of that joy acquired from a 5-minute pause.
Taking breaks are great…and here’s why
You can’t work if you’re not focused and you can’t focus if you’re tired. In fact, studies have proven that brief diversions from tasks can help to vastly improve your focus and, ultimately, your productivity.
Breaks help you to process
The brain has two modes of functioning: focused functioning and diffused functioning. In a diffused mode the brain is relaxed and able to make both subconscious and unconscious connections. Through the act of relaxing, we give our brains the space and time needed to process information and approach problems from different angles. Ever had a bright idea come to you while in the shower?
Conquer your creativity
Not taking breaks exhausts your brains capacity to make creative connections. Give your brain the time it needs to re-charge and you may be surprised how quickly innovative and visionary ideas pop into your head.
And boost productivity
Dividing your projects into smaller tasks, with multiple mini-breaks in between, can help fight off the urge to procrastinate. As the writer Helen Edwards once put it,
“In this game, everyone needs a break to refuel, recharge, and jump back in full throttle.”
How members of the 360 Digital Starters team unwind
I take small breaks, with no fixed schedule. I usually drink hot chocolate or have a warm pudding because that helps distract me from work and re-energize. My boyfriend is not so talkative during his working hours, so I tend to walk around our recently renovated backyard garden where there are plenty of squirrels to keep me entertained. I guess we finally need to get a cat (or better two) so I have someone to talk to while working remotely!
Since I am working mostly from home, I start my days earlier (around 6.30 and 7.30 AM), and as soon as the coffee kicks in, I am on fire! I don’t have a real routine during the day to be honest, but starting work earlier gives me more time for my private life in the evenings. I use it to take long walks in the park of the castle nearby, meeting friends, or just to sit in the late summer sun near the canal.
I don’t normally take breaks throughout the day, for me it's important to stay focused. If I distract myself, I lose the drive. I think it’s also important to separate the home office from the home itself, which is why I try not to talk to my girlfriend too much (who I work with), unless it’s about work. That might sound strange, but it really helps us to mentally clock-off in the evenings.
I always start and end my workday with a yoga session. It allows me to make the transition from work to “Feierabend” (a German term to mean ‘end of the workday’) and gives me some new energy.
I take a break every two hours to walk my dog or play Sudoku (my two passions). Now that I am mostly working from home, I also enjoy taking small breaks together with my wife and chatting about our day.
Be kind to yourself. You’re allowed to love your work, but mental health is important too and imperative to your productivity. And, if you fancy a break right now, why not take our self-burnout test or any of our other great quizzes on our GimmeMore page.