Taking a Break Is Good For Your Psyche

By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching at Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting

We’ve encouraged you to calendar your week and we’ve talked about the value of “time chunking”, but are you including “recharge” breaks on your calendar? Designers are often so focused on fitting as much as possible into their days so that taking a break –often seems crazy and impossible. Yet plenty of studies have proven the value of including short breaks in your day as well as longer breaks that might even include a short out of town trip.

For example, to those of you who attended Genius Exchange, how many of you felt recharged when you returned to the office? Or if you actually “unplugged” for the whole weekend and spent time with friends or family, you will probably come into the office Monday morning and be much more productive.

From Scientific American we learn that “research on naps, meditation, nature walks and the habits of exceptional artists and athletes reveals how mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity.”

This advice also applies to your team. Encouraging them to take short breaks during the day will not only promote creativity and passion, but it will help you and your team to re-focus your attention and concentration and hence be more productive.

Then there are health benefits too! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting up and moving around for about 5 minutes every hour – which can help your waistline! It’s not a trip to the gym but every little bit of movement helps and it also helps promote healthy, happy eyes. Especially if you are staring at a computer screen for too long as that can lead to a condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Taking your eyes off the screen for about 15 minutes every two hours helps your eyes — and your neck and shoulders. So why not use that 15 minutes and take a walk around the block. That way you’re combining a bit of exercise with reduction in eye strain as well as possibly spending some time in nature if your office is close to some green space.

Those short breaks will not only help to reduce stress, but help prevent accidents and mistakes. Exhaustion and fatigue are the two main causes of on-the-job accidents.

Setting new habits takes practice, but start by setting the alarm on your phone as a reminder to take a 5 minute break every hour. If your day will include long periods on the computer, set that alarm for every two hours to get up and away from that computer. Use those 5 minutes to peruse through some of the design magazines you haven’t had time to enjoy.

You’ll find when you develop a routine of short breaks for you and your team, it will not only force you to stick to a schedule but will improve your work effectiveness and productivity. So try it for the next month and see for yourself.

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