So far, the year 2020 has been like looking both ways while crossing the road and still getting hit by an airplane. It’s like every Nicholas Cage movie, without Nicholas Cage.
We keep telling ourselves that we need to keep moving forward, but only if we continuously refuel and recharge to prevent fatigue, burnout, and other mental illnesses can we do so. The mental load is massively high with the amount of change going on in the world and the constant pressure of possibly working from home. Also, attempting to help your children stay motivated with remote learning is a cherry on top.
You need to give yourself a break when you feel like you can’t catch one. And I know from my experience that to thrive, you need to provide yourself with a lot more than once each day. Work and home are two separate places for the majority of individuals for a reason. Both demand our time and attention, but in various ways. Finishing work tasks and fulfilling personal responsibilities are both important things that we do every day and physically separating these two worlds helps us to channel our energy at the right time in the right way. This separation is removed when we work from home, and these two worlds are mashed together instantly. When these worlds suddenly overlap, this change can be jarring, as is figuring out how to manage ourselves.
Here are five types of breaks that you can deliberately schedule throughout your day to remain motivated, focused and energised in your life.
Do you look at your work emails the moment you wake up? You compress how long it feels like you’re working, possibly by hours, if you refrain from checking work email or other work messages until you’re actually starting your workday instead of right when you wake up. It is like applying the concept of intermittent fasting where you limit when you eat to a specific number of hours per day to your work.
Try devoting the first half of the day to self-care. This can include exercising, reading, meditating, eating or simply just looking out of the window with coffee. If you start the day slow, you are giving enough time to your mind to prep itself for the day.
You had a lot of natural breaks built-in during your office workday, from walking back to your desk after a meeting to chatting with a colleague who stopped by your desk to social activities in the office.
Now, your day can feel like a long slog if you work from home or have several rules on what you do in the office. You’ll need to find new kinds of breaks to keep yourself focused and engaged. This might look like you set a time limit for 25 minutes of focused work using the Pomodoro method and then give yourself 5 minutes of rest time. After completing tasks, such as reviewing a proposal or submitting your expenses, it could seem like giving yourself a break. Or after you’re done with a meeting to help battle Zoom fatigue, it can be a good break.
Taking a lunch break can allow you to reset. During this time, you can talk to someone living with you, return a few WhatsApp messages, or check in on your kids. This is an ideal time to relax, recharge, and process. This is also the best time to ponder on a challenge you may be facing.
In his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel Pink stated that almost everyone experiences a “trough” afternoon. This is that time in the afternoon when, no matter how hard you try; you can hardly keep your eyelids open.
A “napaccino” is recommended by Pink: Drink a cup of coffee and then take a power nap for 25 minutes or less. The caffeine does not kick in for about 25 minutes, and since the nap was short and the warm drink is doing its magic, you should wake up without a mental fog. Or you could at least go for a walk, check-in with a colleague or your children if taking a nap is not on the cards.
Ideally, it would be best if you tried to wrap up your work before dinner and give some time to yourself. This way you can have some time to help your children with their studies, exercise, watch a TV show, clean the house, and eat with your family. The idea is not to push your brain in an intense way and give enough time to recover.
By 2020, you can do it, and you can finish strong. Every day, the key is to take deliberate breaks throughout the day so that you can make it across the finish line.
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An Editor by day and a sloth by night…I would love to eat and sleep throughout the day if given a chance…I enjoy reading and love my job and my team at ClearTax.