Work Break Tips to Boost Productivity

You’re on a work break and you’re contemplating how you can boost your productivity when you return to the “treadmill” called your workspace. You may be working remotely, in a hybrid arrangement, or on-site. That means you have to adjust your thinking about how you work and how best to make the most of your break times. The first thing that you must realize is that self-care, your well-being, is more important than productivity. You can’t be productive if you’re not mentally and physically well. You can’t work if you physically and/or mentally incapacitated. Make sense?

Working from home can be as daunting as being on-site, because you have to force yourself to leave your desk and move your body to a space that doesn’t make you think about work tasks. Working in hybrid mode means teaching yourself how to be disciplined in two environments. In remote and hybrid mode you also struggle with “flipping the switch” and leaving workplace stuff in the work zone and not weaving it into your personal space and time.

Benefits of Breaks

Taking breaks helps to alleviate, reduce, and eliminate burnout. We’re all bombarded with stress but how we translate and transfer that energy will determine if we become overwhelmed, and burnout, or if we trigger the various mechanisms that will allow us to effectively manage the stress. According to a November 2020 article by Jill Duffy, researchers have offered three options for recovering from stress and returning to work recharged: 1) relaxation, 2) positive work reflection (how we see, think, and speak about the work we do), and 3) mastery (working on skills to a high level of achievement).

Don’ts

While on a break, whether 30-minutes or a vacation, here are some things you should NOT do:

  • Check and reply to work emails
  • Work-related tasks: letters, reports, or anything else
  • Talk about work, co-workers, and anything else associated with business

Do’s

If you are on break then you should be mentally and physically removed from “work-mode”. You are to take that time to decompress, relax, recenter, and recharge. If you’re checking emails and working on other tasks associated with your job, how are you on a break? You’re not. You have merely switched where you are working. If you’re spending your break talking about co-workers and work stuff, then you aren’t on break.

Micro-Breaks

Duffy’s article also highlights the importance of taking micro-breaks for one to two minutes, about once every 20 to 30 minutes. These micro-breaks can help reduce your chances of developing blood clots in your legs (that can quickly race to your lungs and cause all sorts of chaos). Micro-breaks are also beneficial for overall health and wellness, reduce carpal tunnel syndrome and computer-related eye strain, and prevent work-related injuries. According to Allan Hedge, an ergonomics expert and professor emeritus at Cornell University, movement helps to improve circulation, comfort, and performance.

Even if you’re only standing up, stretching, and walking around your workspace or down the hall for two minutes, the benefits to your mind and body are immeasurable. Do some deep breathing exercises, and do a few reps of calf raises (slowly standing on the balls of your feet as high as you can go and then slowly returning your feet to the ground). You can go to the restroom and wash your hands and splash some water on your face. Go get some water, refill that fancy bottle you bought (or received as a gift) to track your water intake. If you’re in a building with stairs, walk down one flight and then return to your floor. You can slow stroll and look out the windows to the courtyard or parking area of your building. If you’re working from home, get up and walk to another room or go outside for a moment. Just do something.

Productivity Tools

Some suggested tools you can try (that some of our Foreman & Associates team members utilize) include the Pomodoro Technique, where you divide your day into active working sessions and break sessions. You can create a system where you work for 60 minutes and then take a break for X minutes. You can define what your break minutes are. You repeat this routine throughout your work day until it’s clock-out time.

The concept came from tomato-shaped kitchen timers and tomato in Italian is, guess what? Although you could set a timer in front of you and wind it up, you might actually benefit from more advanced technology, found in various apps. These apps can block you from accessing websites when you’re supposed to be in work-mode or break-mode. They can lock your computer so you can’t work during break time.

Your fitness trackers, like Fitbit and Apple Watch, also have idle alerts which will vibrate and tell you to get up and get moving. You can set the hours to coincide with your work schedule and when the tracker notices that you have been stationary for too long, it will vibrate (and sometimes even flash a light), and then you know it’s time to get up and get your body moving.

You may find that you’re more prone to the disciplined structure of winding the kitchen timer over clicking the icon on an app, or tapping your fitness tracker, as it’s easy to click and ignore, but it takes greater energy to turn off the timer and wind it up for the next phase. Try the different tools and see what works best for you. Whichever method and tool that you use be sure that your focus is on your health and well-being. When you’re feeling good you can do great work, and be more productive.

Next week we will share some tips on how to make your workspace more ergonomically correct. If you got excited and just had a back spasm, then we know you will appreciate that post.

Share With Us

What methods and tools do you use for wellness and productivity?

Copyright 2022. Foreman & Associates, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “Work Break Tips to Boost Productivity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s