For most Zipponians, we work an average of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. This usually means sitting at a desk cranking away at various tasks, which typically leads to taking about 15 minutes to eat so you can get back to the work day. What if I told you that your brain is most productive in 90-minute windows? If you’re grinding your brain for 480 straight minutes a day, is your brain actually being the most productive it can be, or is your work turning to garbage? How do we avoid letting our rock-star brains turn into mush, you ask? You are in luck, my friend, because I am a self-appointed wizard on what I call “brain breaks.”
Before we dive into this, I know what you’re all thinking right now: how do I find time to take breaks throughout my day? The key to successful brain breaks is to give yourself permission to take them knowing that it is the best way to boost your productivity. We can all fall into the habit of feeling anxiety when we’re stressed over the reality of a desk pilling up with tasks. This stress can lead us to believe that there is no way we could take a break, because if we did, we would fail at our job and not complete our tasks.
By allowing yourself to take a break, you’re actually helping your brain from getting bored. As a result, you’re more likely to better focus, efficiently finishing that pile of work on your desk. Brain breaks are a great way to boost your productivity in a manageable way, and can foster creativity and efficiency throughout the day. These breaks give us much-needed time to rest our eyes, move around, stretch out our stiff muscles and get more blood and oxygen flowing to our brains. This allows us to unwind and obtain a fresh outlook on complex work problems. Just to be clear, when I say to take a break, I’m not talking about hopping in bed and taking a two-hour nap like the old college days (even though that doesn’t sound like the worst idea I’ve had today…RIP college me). Small changes in your work day can truly lead to big results.
Let’s talk about how we can actually put these steps into our daily routines at the office.
- Get outside! This can be as simple as stepping outside of your office and taking a few breaths of fresh air, or walking to the corner of the street and back. One way that I’ve started to incorporate brain breaks into my work day is by going for a run outside during my lunch break (I’m still recruiting people in the office for my one-person running club…any takers?). Not only does this get me outside, but it also gets my blood and oxygen moving, which helps reset my brain and helps me concentrate more when I get back to the office.
- Music to the ears. Listening to music or your favorite podcast can boost your mood. Allow yourself to get into the song and tap along to the beat.
- Hydrate yourself. Get up and drink a full glass of water. A cold glass of water will help energize you, and hot water will calm you.
- Leave for lunch. Don’t eat lunch at your desk, and if you can help it, leave the office altogether. A change in your environment can work wonders for a change in your mindset. If your day doesn’t allow for lunch outside of the office, take your lunch to a different section of the office to switch up the scenery while you eat.
Now that you’re a brain break wizard as well, please join me in standing up from your desk and taking a five-minute walk. When you return, you can tackle the day with fresh eyes and a more productive mindset.