Career,  health

Using Break Time More Effectively

Photo By: Rayi Christian Wikasono

Settling into a new job is always a bit nerve racking. My main struggle right now is break time. Usually, in my old position, we rarely ever took our full lunch breaks. We would chit chat at our desks while we ate our lunches and then when we are finished, we would go back to work. On my first, they told me to make sure I take my full hour lunch everyday. I have no idea how to fill a full hour of “me time”. On my first day I sat outside, scrolled my social media feeds on my phone and enjoyed the sunshine. I didn’t take the full hour, once I was done eating, I didn’t feel I had anything left to do. I never would of imagined that adjusting to an one hour lunch break would be so difficult.  

Today, as I continuously checked my phone to ensure I had been gone for at least half an hour, it dawned on me, I should try to use this time more effectively, so when I return to work I feel energized. 

Photo by: Redd Angelo

The internet has some mixed messages.The common thread is that breaks are very important, however the duration of the break time varies. Forbes Magazine insists that how you spend your lunch break determines your productivity for the whole day. They suggest making a plan for your lunch breaks everyday and plotting out the tasks that need to be completed once you return back from lunch. They highly suggest talking the full hour, whether it is spent going for a walk, running errands, throwing in a quick work out or socializing with friends. Not developing a routine is the key to feeling energized. The one thing they say to avoid is staring at a screen, which is basically exactly what I have been doing. I have been breaking wrong all this time. 

Another theory that is taking over the internet, is one that suggests that the most productive employees take a 17 minute break after every 57 minutes of working. Fast Company, Life Hacker,  The Atlantic all cited this same study, as being the secret to an effective work day. Don’t ask me how they came up with such a peculiar number, not a 15 minute break but 17 minute break, so precise. The breaks are not to be taken at your desk. The employees are supposed to walk around, read a book or catch up with co-workers. These periodical breaks lead to higher productivity throughout the day, because each interval of work is more focused. I guess it would be similar to tabata training, interval training for your brain. 

The one realization that I did come to, is that my down time shouldn’t feel as though it is wasted time. Instead of it being a burden of trying to occupy the allotted amount of time, I should start trying to enjoy it. It may be too soon to ask my employee to facilitate sporadic breaks, but in the meantime, I am going to embrace the hour I do get. My office is right by the water, with a beautiful view of Vancouver’s skyline, so why not go for a brisk walk every now and again. I need to stop mindlessly staring at my phone. I want to feel energized after my breaks, not dragging through the rest of my day. Tomorrow I may even do some reconnaissance and try to find a yoga studio close by.  I’ll let you know if I feel the difference. 

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