It seems like I’ve had a million things on my to-do list lately, I know you can relate. And isn’t it so easy to fall into the trap of believing we have to work a million hours straight to get it all done? I’ll admit, I’m guilty of it some days. But it’s so much healthier to take a break, step back from all the stress and take the time for sanity. It helps with being on top of things while working, and it makes you a better person (science doesn’t even have to back me up on this). Here’s what I do to in terms of break-taking to make sure I’m always on my A-game:
I schedule rest. On a weekly and a daily level. For example, if I know I have a lot to do in one day I will draw out blocks of time in my agenda specifically for relaxation. They don’t have to be big blocks of time, but doing it makes rest a legitimate item that needs executing on the basis that my agenda is my day boss and it says so. Same goes for weekly rest (possibly a longer time frame) and so on and so forth.
I only take what I need. The same way I won’t write an extra term paper if it’s not required, I won’t take a break unless it will actually do some good. The trick to this one is being realistic and honest with yourself about what you/your body need(s) to recharge, and to not cheat yourself out of otherwise-productive time. [Sorry, impromptu Netflix binges.]
I make my breaks productive. That means making sure relaxation actually happens during break-time. Things that do it for me are coffee (specifically lattes) if I’m short on time and phone calls to friends because they take my mind away from what I was just doing. But if you have more time (say, a whole evening) and taking shots with complete strangers is what does it for you, own that. There’s no right or wrong here as long as the time you took to rest really made you happier/relaxed you/excited you or refreshed you.
I listen to my body. Sometimes what I plan for my break just doesn’t mesh with my energy levels. Or I’m feeling under the weather one day. It’s alright to re-configure that rest time! And though it’s generally rude to cancel on your friends (if that’s what you planned), being upfront about what you’re up for can save everyone the disappointment of a grumpy/spaced-out wingperson.
I limit technology use on my breaks. Because we spend so much time on my laptop as it is, switching it up is an amazing way to de-stress. Taking a walk and disconnecting in any another way helps to make a break really fulfilling. I find myself more refreshed when I do this, but by all means disregard this if reading trashy magazines makes you happy.
You’ll likely have your own variation of this strategy already, as you should if you’ve made it this far in life. But go ahead and adopt any one of the above as a firm rule and see how much more in-control you will be of your leisure time (and subsequently work time). The days I follow this mantra I’m in a much better place than on days when I blow six hours in bed watching The Good Wife. Unless that’s what I’ve scheduled for myself, because then I’m really happy. Always remember, you do you.
All the best,