May 2017

Need More Time?  Take a Break!

Everyone is looking for the magic pill for getting more time, and although once a year we “fall back” and gain an hour, we lose it again in the spring. The reality is that we all get 24 hours in a day. It’s how we use this time that makes us feel like it’s well-spent, or that it’s just not enough. 
There are countless time management ideas in books, articles, and classes, but the latest realization is that these mostly contain advice about organization. Being organized, certainly saves time. And, as you know, I’m an advocate for planning in order to save time during the execution of your projects. Last month I shared two tips for stress management, which can also give you more time. This month I share one simple idea that most people never consider: Take a Break! 
It sounds counterintuitive, but taking a break really can give you more time. “How?”, you ask. 
Imagine that you have worked all day with no breaks (some of you don’t need to imagine this as it’s happening now). How do you feel? Most people feel burnt out, tired, and maybe a bit grumpy when it seems like they can barely breathe, pounding away getting work done. They go home to recover but don’t have any energy left for their families or themselves. Ugh! 
I’ve been there too, but there’s another way. Instead of working straight through your work day without a break, thinking you are gaining time, focus instead on managing your energy. We all know that we get more done when we feel energized. A task can be completed more quickly with better results when we feel good doing it. We also know that the same task can take so much longer when we aren’t at our best. 
The key is to insert breaks in your day when you are feeling positive and energetic and to not wait until it’s unavoidable due to being run down. Visualize charging your cell phone’s battery – it’ll work best if you take breaks to keep it charged up vs. letting it lose all its juice. 
Here are three tips on charging your battery: 
1) Set your timer for every 90 minutes to take a short break. Studies show that even the most attentive adults lose focus after 90 minutes. That’s why we take breaks in our training classes every 90 minutes. You decide how long your break is – just do something active away from your desk like walking to a co-worker’s office instead of sending an email, going outside for fresh air and sun, getting a glass of water to drink, or stretching. Even small breaks can recharge and improve your physical, emotional, and mental energy. 
2) Eat lunch away from your desk. I know it sounds radical for some of you! If you just ate lunch, it’d take about 10 minutes. In the past, when I ate at my desk, there were times where my food got cold, dried up, or even went bad by the time I actually remembered to eat my lunch. Next thing you know, my energy was low and I was cranky from being hungry. Seriously, just take care of yourself by eating lunch without working! You do deserve at least a 10-minute break to eat. This one tip could change your whole life, really. Try it today. 
3) Consider adding exercise in your work day for more energy throughout your day. I know, some of you are thinking you don’t have time, but really you do because you get it back by improving your productivity. People who work out during their lunch hours gained 10 hours of productivity in their 8-hour day – yes, more done in less time! People who worked through lunch had half the productivity level of the exercisers – 5 hours in an 8-hour day. I have decided to try this myself and have been doing 90 minutes of yoga, 3 days a week and it’s made a tremendous difference for me. I am more productive, less stressed, happier, and my back aches are gone! 
I know some of you need some proof that taking breaks and managing your energy actually works, click on this link to view a detailed article with case studies. I encourage you to test it for yourself. Take a break and let me know how it works for you.