LEADER’S FIELD GUIDE
Is it you? Are you the one with hunched shoulders and drooped head? The one who mopes around every weekday until Friday around noon? Then, after confirming a clean getaway, and with more enthusiasm displayed all week, you stuff papers into a dogeared folder, jam your laptop into its bag, collect the four thermoses you forgot to take home each night (along with the thermos from today), and make a beeline for the elevator– wait, another glance around… Yep, one co-worker to dodge; better take the stairs! Whew, that was a close one…
Monday to Thursday, I’m dead on my feet
Most of the time too tired to eat…
But as soon as Friday rolls around
I lay all my weekly burdens down
I put on my glad rags and paint the town
~ Livin’ for the Weekend, by The O’Jays, 1975 (YouTube; 6:37 minutes)
Fast Company quotes the author of Extreme Productivity, Richard Pozen, as saying: “Don’t think of breaks in terms of taking a set number a day… The real question is what is the appropriate time period of concentrated work you can do before taking a break?” Pozen recommends taking a break every 75-90 minutes. For shorter tasks, consider Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique which encourages 25-minute bursts of effort buffered by 5-minute breaks. Ironically, breaks allow for more productivity! There’s a better way, let’s break it down:
- Break More: The US Department of Labor recommends “bona fide meal periods (typically lasting at least 30 minutes)” and Lexis Nexis calculates that almost half of the United States allow rest breaks of “1/2 hour within five hours of work.” Physically removing yourself from your workspace, even for a few minutes, is refreshing.
- Mind More: We are built for work, not dread. Mental breaks are important, too. In his Harvard Health Blog (Is Adrenal Fatigue “Real”?), Dr. Marcelo Campos suggests that constant stress can cause “tiredness, brain fog, lack of motivation”. Intentionally shifting your focus from mental strain is refreshing. (Though subtle, worry can become a habit…)
- Care More: Most of us still fuss over our best During a busy week, we can neglect to hydrate and fuel our bodies properly. Making improvements to self-care requires commitment– I know, blecch! Those who fight for consistency discover the sweet rewards of better habits. A few muscle stretches during the day is refreshing.
OK, it was ME! I used to live for the weekend, if I was lucky enough to get time off… It’s been awhile since I stuffed a week’s worth of work into my laptop bag for a two-day weekend or used the stairwell as an escape route. Training wheels do help: I admit that I use my to-do list to remind me to drink water and take short breaks throughout the day. My new habits are forming– and I do love checking things off the list.
Other Resources: MIT Sloan Executive Education Blog: Want to be more productive in 2018? Take more breaks (includes a number of other great resources). Fun Fact: The Pomodoro Technique is named after a 30-minute tomato-shaped kitchen timer, Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato!
— Join a Synergy Group where we will discuss what the
Bible says about Taking Breaks. —
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She founded Synergy Groups, virtual masterminds connecting all Christians, everywhere, for the purpose of Community, Accountability, Transformation, and Leadership. She also partners with high-performers and heirs-apparent especially in the STEM industries. Michelle’s formal background in technology, franchise, and project management gives her an edge on implementing best practices and scaling towards sustainable success. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 23 years.
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