“Sometimes it is important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.”
– Douglas Pagels
If taking time away from work and errands and being productive and busy is not something you do on a regular basis, please reconsider! In today’s world, many of us consider taking time to do nothing as the ultimate luxury. Who can afford to talk a walk in the middle of the workday? Who has time to sit and just breathe? You do!
The challenge for many of us is nagging feelings of guilt. You have so much to do and you cannot figure out the solution to this one specific problem. You do not deserve a break until you know how to resolve the problem and you know that you are going to make your deadline. This is the exact time when you should take a break. Don’t feel guilty if you look at pictures and videos of puppies and kittens. Research has shown that participants performed tasks better AFTER looking at pictures of baby animals.
Don’t trust me trust science. Taking a break will actually help to ensure that you are working on the right priorities. Taking a break does not take you off course it actually keeps you on track.
University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras explains:
“…Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused,” he said. “From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!” (www.open.buffer.com/science-taking-breaks-at-work)
When you take a break, your mind is not totally idle. So if you are still worried that taking a break is preventing you from problem solving, it is in fact the opposite. Taking breaks helps with problem solving. Some of your brain activity increases when you daydream and when you let your mind wander. Engineering professor Barbara Oakley states that while we do need to focus, we also need to enter a state called the diffuse mode. Focusing blocks us from this mode. Relaxing allows us to enter this mode and it is while in the diffuse mode your subconscious mind chips away at the problem that you are trying to solve. (www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/08/inquiring-minds-barbara-oakley-learning-neuroscience)
At a higher level consider more than breaks during the workday. Consider taking an entire day off. No housework, errands, homework or work. And as an added bonus, perhaps even take a break away from all of your devices. Or at least stop checking your work messages!
So please, take a break and definitely take a day off. It’s good for you – personally and professionally.