Want to Get More Done? Take a Break.

You can’t be happy at work if your colleagues and boss tell you that you are not reaching your goals fast enough.  Even if  it is just you who are dissatisfied with your progress toward your goals, it is upsetting.  If you are wondering how to speed up perhaps this will help you.  According to the Psychology Today  website the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) of your brain is responsible for “think work”.  When you are doing work that is goal oriented the PFC is responsible for keeping you focused on the goal.  Taking a quick break after an hour or so of concentrating on reaching a goal gives your brain a rest and research shows productivity increases.  Here is a list of ideas for quick breaks.

  1. Get up and stretch- Most people work sitting at a desk all day.  Long periods of sitting are not good for your health.  It can lead to heart disease, depression, and obesity. Stretching for 5 minutes can improve your health and well being.
  2. Go for a walk – A walk can also be a way to move after sitting at your desk for a long time.  When I first get up after sitting for a while I don’t move easily.  A few minutes of walking helps me to move more fluidly and I feel so much better.
  3. Tea break – Mid afternoon can be a low point in the day.  This is a perfect time to stop what you are doing and take 20 minutes to sit with coffee or tea and clear your mind. As many of you who have read my newsletter for a while know I love my tea breaks.  In the winter I enjoy watching the birds at my bird feeder while sipping on a cup of tea.  That ties into the next idea.
  4. Meditation – Meditation refreshes the body and the soul during the day.  Keeping your mind rested without thoughts of work is often challenging to people who are always on the go.  Try music, a meditation tape or CD, or sitting outside in a beautiful setting (ocean, mountain, garden etc). Bird watching can also be meditative.
  5. Reading for pleasure  – Get into a good novel, read something inspirational, or find some poetry that is meaningful to you.  Get engrossed with your mind totally off your work challenges.  Set a timer, if necessary, if you worry you’ll forget to go back to work!
  6. Music daily (listening, playing an instrument or singing) – Like golf, tennis, or reading for some music can be totally engrossing.  What is most fun for you to take a break?
  7. Exercise – Does your office have a ping pong table or a treadmill?  Maybe just going up and down the stairs for 10 minutes will be the right change of pace. Like stretching or walking, exercise is a way to get the body juices flowing again and give your PFC time to recover.
  8. Nap – Some companies actually encourage power naps of maybe 15 or 20 minutes.  There are even sleep pods now that give employees a restful environment to catch some zzzs.  Of course if you work at home this would be easy for you.  Again you’ll need an alarm to get you up.  Longer naps can leave you groggy.
  9. Write – Get creative especially if your work is left brain activity.  Give the left a break and engage the right with some creative writing, drawing or doodling.
  10. Breath –  Take some long deep breaths.  If you haven’t got time to get up and move around then at least give your lungs some exercise and take you mind off your goal for a couple of minutes.  Deep belly breaths can help clear your head so you are ready to resume the work necessary to reach your goal. This is literally “taking a breather”.

 Experiment with these to see which works best for you.  Knowing yourself is key when you are looking for ways to be happy at work.  The first step is to become aware of what makes you unhappy.  In my practice I have helped hundreds of clients to better understand what makes them happy and then I have helped them to build a supportive environment in which they can thrive.  Please call me at 781-598-0388 or email me at asparker@asparker.com if you would like to explore working with me.



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