Get back to work!

In my last post,  I wrote about Instant Boss, a free computer application that helps you stay on task by running a timer to manage your work and break periods.   You tell it how long you want to work before taking a break (say 25 minutes), how long your breaks will be (say five minutes), and how many times to repeat the cycle (say four, for a total work period of two hours). One of the pitfalls of using this system is extending a break and never getting back to work.  So this time, I’ll share some ideas for what to do on your breaks to ensure that you get right back to work when your time is up.

  1. Drink a glass of water
  2. Do some light stretching
  3. Do some simple aerobic activity (maybe a few dozen jumping jacks)
  4. Meditate
  5. Step outside for some fresh air
  6. Grab a quick, healthy snack
  7. Spend five minutes reducing the clutter in your immediate vicinity
  8. Check your email and phone messages IF you can do so without responding to any of it
  9. Avoid activities that exert the same sort of fatigue as what you’re working on.  For example, if you’re writing a report, don’t switch to writing a blog entry on your break.  You won’t feel refreshed when it’s time to get back to work.
  10. Above all – and this is the one that gets most people - avoid activities that draw you in.  Don’t start something you can’t wrap up in the time allotted.  Don't do anything you know you’ll get lost in, like internet surfing or reading the paper.

It’s helpful to think about your break activities in advance so you don’t spend half your time wondering what to do.  Or worse yet, get sucked into something that draws you away from your work for the rest of the day. Remember that the purpose of your breaks is to recharge yourself for the next work period.   Use them wisely.