How to Take a Break and Why You Need One
It is one of the most dangerous things you can do for yourself. You’ll reduce productivity, produce poor work, decrease creativity, make you miserable, and eventually, burn out.
It is vital for a happy human existence that we take breaks. However, not everyone knows how to do it correctly. Everyone sleeps at regular times, takes vacations, and has some chills from time to time.
But, do you know how to take breaks and when?
Consider this your invitation for a short break, and to do it in a way which will increase your happiness, productivity, longevity, and overall well-being.
Breaking bad: 3 ways to avoid it
Before we get into the best ways of taking a break, let us take a moment and cover some warnings. Here are three types of breaks to avoid.
1. Working vacations
We’ve all been guilty of checking our emails while we play a game with our children or go on a week-long vacation. Here’s the truth: Working while on vacation doesn’t mean you’re not on vacation. Your office has been relocated.
If you stop working, a break is not a break. Unplugging for true rest and relaxation will pay off in the long-term far more than working the few hours that you take from your vacation.
2. Every few days, sleep the sleep of the dead, exhausted.
A popular way to take a vacation is to literally die every weekend. This model requires you to work for five days like a sleep-deprived draft horses, then lay unconscious and listless in your bed for the entire 62 hour weekend.
This cycle of burnout/recovery can also take time away from the people and activities that you love. It can even be counterproductive, according to research.
Instead, take smaller breaks throughout the week to increase productivity and longevity, rather than conspire against it.
3. Sudden or impulsive break
The sudden breaker, who is near exhaustion, goes home from a hard day’s work and purchases a ticket to Punta Cana. This impulsive getaway may be well-deserved and much-needed, but it may not be as relaxing or as rejuvenating as a planned trip to Punta Cana.
This is why you don’t need to spend as much on a vacation as you would on a small island. To recover from intense work, you don’t have to go on a luxurious vacation.
There is however a better way.
Taking breaks is about managing your work and managing your life (aka: your non-work). Both must be balanced. Let’s take a closer view at how to achieve this balance between work and life.
Take well-timed breaks: How frequently should you take a rest?
The most important thing when taking breaks is how often you do it.
There are two types of break-takers: those who don’t do enough or those who do too much. Schedule regular breaks to stay in the blissful middle.
There is no one right answer to the number of breaks that are best. I am simply going to suggest a list that works for me and many others. It may also work well for you.
You may be shocked at the laziness of the list. The key to being more productive is to have the energy to do your job. If you don’t take enough strategic breaks, you won’t feel energized.
Take a 3rd break per day.
We prefer to work in 90-minute blocks, rather than 10-hour work marathons. This work/rest cycle is the best way to keep your productivity high and avoid burnout.
You should at the very minimum take two breaks during the day and one in the evening before you go to bed.
These breaks don’t have to be lengthy. You might decide to skip the office for a quick cup of coffee between your morning work cycles. Take a 20-minute break in the afternoon. You should take a 20-minute break at the end of the day to let your mind relax and get ready for bed.
Take a break every weekend.
It is a part of human nature to rest every seventh day.