“Wait… if I’m doing less, how can I do more?”
I can just see the smoke coming out of their ears as their mind tries to process this contradicting statement. So, to alleviate some of those uber-productive types from developing a nasty twitch, here’s a tip for those who want to take breaks… without taking breaks. (Are you confused yet? Read on for more clarity.)
What’s the best way to ensure you don’t burn out of your job/project/activity? Take more breaks. What’s the best way to make more time for getting stuff done? Take LESS breaks. Looks like in order to do more without burning out we have to …yep, it’s still confusing.
The only way to satisfy both of these statements is to take breaks that still involve work. For example: I plug away from 48 minutes at my computer, and I take a 12 minute break. But during this break I’ll do things like fold laundry, load the dishwasher, vacuum, run errands… anything that is done anywhere but at my computer. Not only that, but every 5 minutes I take a 30 second break away from my computer. I do a small task that also gets me up and moving, away from my computer.
Now, this break schedule may sound like it’s still work and could easily burn someone out, but it’s really not. Although you’re doing “work” during your breaks, it’s still a different kind of work. The best kind of tasks for these 12 minute breaks are manual labor, that don’t require much thinking. This allows for your mind to take a load off, which is by far the most important aspect of the break.
In order to ensure that every second is being used, it requires a little bit of foresight. It helps to plan many 12-minute tasks before your day begins, so you’ve got a queue available of things to do during the break. It really doesn’t take long, and you’ll think of plenty more as the day progresses.
The beauty of this system is that while on paper it looks like an 8-hour day filled with working and no breaks. But really, it doesn’t feel like one. Simply shifting gears between different types of work is more refreshing than you’d think. And you’ll get a whole heckuva lot more done throughout the day.