I used to be the queen of spacing out. You know when your eyes just wander off into any given direction and your mind wanders? A couple of minutes later I’d always return to earth with new found energy, focus and, more often than not, an idea. At my most recent position I got caught up in the rustle and bustle of the office. I forgot to space out. I even felt guilty abouttaking short breaks because no one else seemed to need them. Eventually I got so used to constantly trying to focus, it rubbed off on my free time, like on the metro going home, on a walk or at a cafe; checking e-mail or social media instead of resting my mind. Optimizing my time. This caused a loss of focus, bad short term memory and I would often ‘push through’ the workday leaving no energy or inspiration to do fun stuff after work.
Have you heard of the pomodoro technique? In short, you set a timer so as to only work in 25 minute increments with alternating short and long breaks, which is said to increase your productivity and focus. This really made a big difference for me, and I’d often forget to take a break because I was in ‘the zone’. I like this timer because of it’s ‘straight to the point’ design. Try it out!
According to this infographic, taking just one break 30 seconds to 5 minutes long improves your mental acuity by 13 %. This article in The New York Times talks about all the reasons you’d come up with to not take your break and why it’s so important to disregard them. After all, as the article also points out, Einstein is thought to have conceived the theory of relativity while riding a bicycle.
If setting a timer isn’t your thing, then check out this article from Lifehack, listing counter intuitive break ideas to boost your productivity.
It’s so easy to push through your to-do-list because you feel like more work means more items checked off. But your mind isn’t capable of staying 100 % alert for an entire day. After all, you want to work smart, right?