As small business owners, it’s very easy to get too busy and suffer from the dreaded ‘overwhelm.’ One of the key things that can help with this is learning to take breaks throughout the day. It’s something that many of us are terrible at, especially when we’re busy, and I’m no exception. Working virtually from a home office, I can be at my desk for hours on end and lunch breaks are minutes, not an hour. This is not good from either a health or productivity point of view.
Trying to keep the mind focused on the same activity for hours is exhausting and you can end up with a fuzzy head, start making mistakes and things take longer. If you’re tired your brain is giving out signals to go to sleep so you may feel drowsy. You might experience eye strain or even headaches.
Sitting is the new smoking
You may have heard this phrase bandied about – the idea that sitting for long periods, even if you do lots of exercise outside of working hours is so bad for your health that it can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and depression. I’m a keen runner so this describes me perfectly – sitting all day and then doing high intensity exercise several times a week. See this article from Runner’s World.
So what we can do?
You may have heard of the Pomodoro method. This involves setting a timer and working intensely on your project for a set period (giving yourself a deadline helps you focus and get stuck in) and then taking a short break for a walk, a cupper or to do something else relaxing (not work!). Some schools of thought recommend 52 minutes intense work and then a 17 minute break. ‘I can’t take 17 minute breaks!’ I hear you scream… well, it might not have to be 17 minutes – it obviously depends what type of work you do and finding a system that works for you. Even simply standing up and stretching every 20 minutes or so is good, and plan in breaks where you can move around a bit. Stuart McGill, PhD, of the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Waterloo says that even breaks of one minute can help. So interrupt that time on your backside – get up, stretch, walk about.
It’s easy just to say, ‘I’ll take more breaks,’ but it’s also easy to forget and before you know where you are, hours have gone by. So why not try setting a timer on the hour and taking a short break and moving around a bit? And take a lunch break! Some people feel virtuous and hard working by not taking them – but why? We deserve and NEED breaks. So don’t feel guilty about taking yours – it’s better for you and you’ll be more productive in the long run.
Maybe there are some tasks that you can offload to help you focus too? Get in touch now and find out how Key VA can help you.