I don’t know about you, but when I start to work, I will miss lunch and dinner just to get that work done! I am very focus like that and all too often I forget to take breaks. You might think, “Who needs a break when there’s work to be done?!” What I have noticed about myself is when I don’t take breaks, especially when I’m working on something, that’s when I begin to make mistakes. In my line of work, I can’t afford to make too many mistakes.
So if you’re anything like me, you need to take a break. If you’re a “Take a Break” Goddess, then I will give you a high five. However, if you’re anything like me and like to be “razor focus” on your project, maybe we can both learn a lesson or two on how to start making breaks a part of our daily life and work habits.
Taking breaks are vital; not only do they renew focus, energy, brain power, and productivity, but they are much needed in our fast pace, on the go attitude of a world we live in.
Here are tips on how to start implementing breaks into your life today:
Take a break every 45 minutes.
According to Inc.com, “Based on scientific measurements, the average American attention span is only 8 seconds. Here’s the kicker: A goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds.”
If we, as Americans, have an attention span of 8 seconds, how are we even supposed to work? And why is it that I can focus on my writing longer than a conversation with my spouse?!
The standard time to take a break is between 50-90 minutes. However, I like to put a timer on my phone for every 45 minutes. It’s really up to you on how long you enjoy working, but pick an amount of time and stick to it. You have a timer on your phone, so use that too.
Breaks last from 15-20 minutes.
After my timer goes off after 45 minutes, I try my best to get away from my computer. I then put the timer on for 15 minutes. Since I work from home, I try to get chores done within these 15 minutes. I might even go outside and catch some rays (if it’s not cold and snowing).
What I would suggest, which you can take it or leave it, is to not focus on your computer or phone screen during these breaks. Give your eyes a screen rest. Rest your mind. Walk around, do some chores, talk to a friend (phone is okay during this time as well), pet your cat, or do yoga. Don’t get dependent on electronics, because let’s face it, it’s not attractive.
There’s no perfect time on taking a break, but Inc.com says if you wanted to apply the 52/17 minute rule: work 52 minutes and break for 17 minutes. DeskTime tracked their 40,000 users, and found that a 17-minute break every 52 minutes was the sweet spot for productivity.
When you come back, I hope you will feel freshen up and refocused. When I take breaks, it renews my word-smithing and I can come back refocused. I can then reread what I typed earlier to see if what I said made any sense and what ways I may need to edit it.
Apps to help with break taking.
If you’re anything like me, you might find yourself forgetting to turn on your timer on your phone or even pressing “Start”. I have done that. So here are three apps to help remind you to take a break that you can use on your desktop.
Eyeleo. This app is on your computer and will either shut your computer screen off for the amount of time you placed on it or it will give you some eye workouts during shorter breaks.
Workrave. What is better than seeing how many minutes you have left until you take your next break? Waverave lets you do this and more. It not only tells you when your next break is, but offers suggestions on what to do during that break.
Big Stretch Reminder. Want to configure your breaks? This app will help you determine what each break is for and can also increase your number of breaks based on your activity.
Take that break!
I hope you will start implementing breaks into your work day and use one of the provided apps to help you stay on track with them. Your brain and energy will thank you by awarding you with productivity.
Speaking of breaks, I’m going to take one now!