Taking breaks like a boss

Taking breaks like a boss | Omnipleasant

Disclaimer: This approach is inspired by the Pomodoro Technique, which I don’t fully apply.

First I’m going to tell you a secret habit of mine that is good for body, mind and soul household. Then I’ll elaborate a bit.

The Secret

I often work from home, mostly on the computer. In the morning I make a “to do” list with tasks in decreasing priority. I also use a “doing” list. More about that one below.

I open these tabs in my browser:

  1. www.timer-tab.com (update: nowadays I use www.magicworkcycle.com)
  2. www.sworkit.com

I start the “doing” list where I only write down the first task. I focus on that single task for 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, I put an X next to the task, which indicates I’ve worked at it for 25 minutes. Then I take a short break – and the following is important – AWAY from the computer (A.K.A. hypnosis machine).

Depending on what feels right, I do just one of the following, for no longer than 5 minutes:

  • meditate (this can be super simple: let me show you)
  • sketch
  • dance like an idiot
  • eat some fruit, drink some water or tea
  • a full body workout guided by Sworkit
  • lie down on the floor (yoga pose ‘dead man working’ :-))
  • sit in a comfy chair not doing anything
  • clean a toilet
  • pick up dirty laundry from the bathroom
  • fill or empty the washing machine, clothes dryer or dishwasher
  • put stuff where it belongs
  • fold some clean laundry
  • feed the chickens
  • water the veggie garden

The timer goes off again after 5 minutes (I set it quite loud to be able to hear it wherever I am) and it’s time to return to work.

Back at the desk, I put a dot next to the X on the “doing” list, indicating that I took the break. I write down the next task or continue with the one at hand.

I repeat this many times throughout the workday.

Elaboration

Usually the breaks feel welcome. But sometimes when I’m really in the middle of something – like writing this article – I just want to carry on. However, I have found that I’m always more content when I take the breaks consistently. I’ve been doing this for some months now and I’m still very happy with it.

Why I like it:

  • my head feels lighter
  • the day is more spacious
  • I drink more water and eat more fruit
  • the breaks are cues to pay more attention to my posture
  • I catch myself quicker when I get distracted (by Facebook, Twitter, email …)
  • away from the computer I often get fresh insights about work
  • back at the desk I can quickly review priorities that may have changed because of new information
  • it’s amazing what can be done around the house in those short breaks
  • more exercise
  • no more regrets because of never making it to the gym
  • our home is less cluttered (you should see it in the morning when I come back after taking the kids to school)

Have you tried this or something similar? Let me know your experience in the comments.

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11 thoughts on “Taking breaks like a boss

  1. Yes, this is the ultimate stress-prevention when working at a computer, and stress-prevention trumps stress-relief. When I do it, I feel great; when I don’t, well I feel the typical awful that most knowledge workers have come to experience as the new normal.

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