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Tips for Taking a Break


Do you find it hard to stop working during the day? Do you constantly think ‘just one more email/task/phone call…etc? Do you feel guilty if you take a break?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, price you are definitely not alone. Many people, page both employed and self-employed, sick find it hard to stop working.  These days, with emails and mobile phones and remote working, it is very difficult to cut off from the office or factory in a way that would have been the norm a generation ago.

The most productive people take regular breaks. They know that their body and mind need constant maintenance and rest to maintain their energy and efficiency levels.

3 reasons why you should take a break.

1)      Recharge – you need rest. The body is a machine and a machine that just keeps going will eventually burn out without regular maintenance and rest. If you work on a computer or a machine that involves you working at close detail, your eyes can suffer and this can make you feel tired. Getting them to focus on other things and giving them a rest, can keep you feeling more awake for longer.

2)      Refocus – it is easy to get so involved in a task that you no longer see the bigger picture. Taking a step back can help you gain perspective, reassess your priorities and realign your focus.

3)       Reconnect – no man is an island. You may have office workers, business colleagues or family with whom you rarely connect because you are always too busy. Take time out to talk to them, share an idea or a problem, or make that phone call.

Taking a break will help you get the most out of your day and be able to constantly refocus on your work. It will make you a more productive worker and, generally, a happier one.

Tips for making it easier to take a break.

1)      Don’t forget to eat. You will probably have heard it said that the most important meal of the day is breakfast. Yet, how many of us leave the house without having eaten properly? I expect most people are guilty of that at some point. Lunch is an important part of the day and (for those of you who feel guilty) an accepted break time. Make sure you take a proper break. Even if you eat at your desk, sit back away from your screen for a while. Talk to the person next to you (as long as they are on a break) or go for a quick walk around the block.

2)      Let people know you are taking a break. Then they know not to chase you to the kitchen as soon as a call comes in. They can take a message and won’t come looking for you.

3)      Take short eye rests. If you work on a screen, sit back every half hour and close your eyes for a minute, or do some eye exercises. Looking around the room and focussing on different items or people for a few seconds can help your vision and eye muscles.

4)      Focus on one task at a time. Many people think that multi-tasking makes someone more productive but this is not the case. Research has shown that focussing on one task at a time is more efficient, as you can give the task 100% and usually complete it more quickly. When you flit between one task and another, it can cause you a lot of stress.

5)      Time your tasks. Give yourself time limits. You may have to alter the deadlines as you go along but it will give you something to work towards and will help you see what is taking most of your time.

6)      Time your breaks. You should give your break a time limit. Otherwise, it is easy to get involved in a conversation or let yourself relax too much. Giving yourself a specific timeframe will help you to make the most of your rest time.

7)      Set your working times. If you are self-employed and work from home, it is very easy to go on for hours, morning, noon and night without breaks, as it is easy to believe that you are never off duty.  There is often a fear you will lose business if you don’t answer an email right away or aren’t available 100% of the time.  This is simply not true. You have as much right as anyone to take a break. Instead of working every day, allocate at least one day in the week that is your time and yours alone. If one day seems too difficult, then allocate half a day. If it is the same day each week, your clients/ customers/business colleagues will become used to this, as will you. You could also consider working on a day when you are likely to receive less emails, which may be at the weekend, and taking a day off during the week instead. Or start your day earlier and finish earlier. Try a few different options and see which one works for you. Just make sure whatever system you put in place, you stick to it.

Ultimately, it is up to you to manage your time during the day. Of course, there will be days that are particularly hectic or have a completely different format to your usual day but, once you get into the habit of taking breaks, it will become natural to you and you will be able to deal much more effectively with those extra busy times.

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