If you are a Type-A personality likeI am, it may not be easy for you to take a break. However, taking breaks is particularly important if working in a creative field. G.H. Hardy, one of Britain’s leading mathematicians in the first half of the twentieth century said, Four hours creative work a day is about the limit for a mathematician. Many have responsibilities that equal a mathematician, including investment advisors, engineers and even creative artists. Dividing up your day to work in concentrated spurts works very well for most areas. There are moments between those spurts to actually take a break.
A source I've often seen quoted is a study of 1,989 UK office workers. It was found that most working 8 hours actually only worked an average of 2 hours and 53 minutes. Social media, talking with colleagues not about work, and even searching for new jobs was eating up the rest of their day! (https://www.vouchercloud.com/resources/office-worker-productivity) But is that really all that bad?
A Planned Break
Research confirms taking a planned break actually regenerates the brain. I, like many others, have a hard time taking a break, when my to-do list seems endless. However, I’ve discovered from experience that taking that break truly does open up my mind to discover new solutions and ideas. The brief change of pace and scenery creates a feeling of refreshment that stimulates my work. Additionally, the scientific study of DMN, or default mode network of the brain, reveals that the brain still does critical work on our behalf when taking a break. (Rest: Why You get More Done when you Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang)
The DMN study alone should especially encourage creative people, to take a break. If at a loss of what to do on a break, let your imagination soar and look around you at your surroundings! Even in the middle of a city there are places to walk, run or visit for a brief time of refreshment.
Here are FIVE IDEAS for taking a simple break that I do personally:
ONE: Trim some branches, trees and plants in our yard. I bought a Sawzall for myself last Mother’s Day and love it! I can trim those thick branches with ease! It’s especially good therapy when I’m wrestling with a difficult situation.
TWO: Tackle a cleaning project for 10 minutes. Having a home office means there’s always extra piles of paperwork or music albums that are in a stack for my review. Every year, the GRAMMY voting process brings a good pile of CDs and promotional materials. If I don’t take a break to deal with the stacks, my office will be overcome with clutter!
THREE: Take a brief walk with my dog. My little Amelia leads me along with more energy than I’ll ever have! It’s almost as if she walks me!
FOUR: Create creative memes for social media posts. Even when writing my eArticles, I find pithy takeaway phrases I can insert into memes for future sharing and promotion. I add all of those to my promotional bank!
FIVE: Take a brief rest for ten minutes. This is a great time to catch up on reading consumer, tech or mass entertainment magazines. It’s definitely a diversion but you have to put a time limit on it!
The list is endless and once you start, there will be more creative things to add to your list. It’s amazing what happens when you give yourself permission to take a break. It's really O.K.!