I am a big believer in working in focused sessions. I believe that you get more done when you put a “super focus” on moving a particular task or project forward. Just to be clear, a focus session for me is a 30-90 minute block of time that I work without taking a break. I do whatever I can to minimize interruptions. What allows me to focus for 90 minutes is the fact that I am planning to take a 30 minute break.
Taking regular breaks, change of activity, and change of scenery can be very invigorating. When I first started doing the 90 minutes work/ 30 minutes break, I did some things wrong. I want to share with you two big mistakes that I made and what I learned from them.
Work Less, Do More: Does Taking a Break Work?
The first big struggle I made was justifying that it was okay to take regular breaks. As long as I was sitting in my office chair doing something, I felt like things were moving forward. What I failed to realize was the value of sharpening the saw. The longer that I sat in my chair and worked the “duller” my blade became. Thus making my less productive even though I was putting in the hours. I needed established breaks in order to re-charge my batteries. I need to trust that I could work less and get more done.
With my new plan, I was taking a 30 minute break mid-morning and a 30 minute break in the middle of the afternoon. Could I really make up for loss time? I am not sure what your working hours and breaks might be but I found that I did get more done in less time by allowing myself to take breaks.
The second big mistake was not taking “real” breaks. This was a big challenge for me. I did not clearly define what a break was when I first started. I used my break time to check email, read blogs, and check my online earnings. What I discovered is that I had a hard time getting re-focused once that break was over. This was because I did not change my environment and take a “real” break.
Now, I have defined what a real break is for me. I have to step away from the computer for the entire 30 minutes. For example, one of my afternoon breaks is from 3:00-3:30 every afternoon. My kids get home from school at around that same time. This gives me the opportunity to walk them down to the park, throw football in the front yard, or go for a bike ride.
What I have noticed by following this schedule is that when I get back to work, I am ready. I am good to go and focus on what needs to be done for the next 90 minutes. Obviously, for some of you, your boss establishes your schedule for you. Do your best to adopt these principles and get more done with less time.
Do It Now Task – When Can You Take a Break
Select a logical time when you take a REAL break. You choose to not do work but do something entirely different for 15-30 minutes at least twice during your work day.