09 Mar Busy: The Modern Work Addiction
Busy Being Busy: Not Giving Ourselves Proper Breaks
“Busy?” Once upon a time it used to be the norm to say “fine” when people asked how we were. Nowadays, we are more likely to say “busy,” possibly accompanied with a wry, you know-how-it-is type of expression. Indeed, it sometimes even turns into a kind of one upmanship about who is the busiest.
With this in mind, it’s not surprising that a survey of 1,000 British adults published by ElectricTobacconist.co.uk, as part of the Take a Break Report 2017, revealed that almost 1 in 3 (30%) Brits take a short break at least once every two hours during a typical working day. This equates to four short breaks a day. However, few are actually using this time to relax.
As leaders, we may be feeling that slowing down and taking a break is going to encourage everyone else to down tools. Or perhaps that it’s not good role model behaviour. What is vital is for us to understand and believe that by taking out proper breaks we are encouraging and nurturing a healthier work-place. yet, sometimes even when we take those breaks, we are still not having a rest.
Not Using Our Breaks Properly
We are actually using our rest time to get even more stuff done. More than 1 in 2 (52%) are opting to use this time to undertake simple but time-consuming personal tasks, including making phone calls, doing shopping and booking tickets. It is worrying when 40% of those interviewed said they found their breaks gave them time check off a personal job from their ‘to do’ list. These tasks may have been distracting them or playing on their minds, but it’s still a sad occurrence, in my opinion.
What’s more, figures also showed that 1 in 3 (33%) spend their mini break catching up on activity across their social media channels. So, rather than having a proper break, we are still sat in front of our screens.
It’s interesting what happens when we do sit down and have a break. I don’t know about you but I often feel a little guilty, or that I’m wasting time. Why is this? I know some people who can’t sit down and watch a TV programme. They have to be doing something like the ironing to give them a pass to take some time out. As someone who often works from home, I can spend hours in the same position over my PC without even thinking about a break. It doesn’t come into my head. So, how can we change this behaviour and make breaks work to our advantage?
Tips for Effective Work-Breaks
Start scheduling them in. A silent vibrate on our phones will remind you that it’s time to get up, stretch your legs and make a cuppa
Be conscious about how you will use your break. Just checking in on your Instagram can easily mean your break disappears without you noticing.
The Pomodoro technique is often praised as being great for focus. The other advantage is that breaks are built in naturally.
How will you use this time to best effect? Chat to some workmates? Get yourself a water refill? Go outside and take quick walk in the fresh air? Enjoy some deep breathing looking out of the window. Being aware is the first step.
I’d love to hear any other ideas of how you make your breaks work for you…