Why taking regular breaks is good for your productivity…

This very useful post was submitted by a good friend of mine: Jacqui Dean.

Take a break….

Last week in my own blog I wrote about overwhelm and one of the points was the importance of taking regular breaks during the working day. It’s something that many of us are so bad at and I’m no exception.

Working virtually from a home office, I can be at my desk for hours on end and lunch breaks are minutes, not an hour. This is not good from either a health or productivity point of view.

Brain fog

Why taking regular breaks is good for you
Why taking regular breaks is good for you

Trying to keep the mind focused on the same activity for hours is exhausting and you can end up with a fuzzy head, start making mistakes and things take longer. If you’re tired your brain is giving out signals to go to sleep so you may feel drowsy. You might experience eye strain or even headaches.

Sitting is the new smoking

You may have heard this phrase bandied about – the idea that sitting for long periods, even if you do lots of exercise outside of working hours is so bad for your health that it can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and depression.

I’m a keen runner so this describes me perfectly – sitting all day and then doing high intensity exercise several times a week. See this article from Runner’s World.

So what we can do?

It obviously depends what type of work you do and what suits you best. Even simply standing up and stretching every 20 minutes or so is good, and plan in breaks where you can move around a bit. Stuart McGill, PhD, of the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Waterloos says that even breaks of one minute can help.

So interrupt that time on your backside – get up, stretch, walk about.

I once read that as a small business owner I couldn’t be an entrepreneur if I put the washing on or nipped out to the shop as I wasn’t focusing on my business. What a lot of tosh! I love being able to get these things done during the day and not have to do all the chores in the evening. Most importantly it enables me to move about and have a mental break and hence be more productive and focused in my business.

So why not try setting a timer every hour and taking a short break (and break doesn’t necessarily mean doing absolutely nothing, you could try doing another task that doesn’t require so much focus).

And take a lunch break! Some people feel virtuous and hard working by not taking them – but why? We deserve and NEED breaks. So don’t feel guilty about taking yours – it’s better for you and you’ll be more productive in the long run.

For more on setting up a healthy and productive workstation, see HSE guidance and regulations

Happy working!

jacqui deanJacqui Dean is seasoned VA who has worked at all levels and picked up a lot of experience and war stories along the way!

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