On average, we’re spending 48.5 minutes working each day since the turn to remote work, new research shows. Not only are people working longer hours, but it stands to reason that we’re taking fewer breaks, too, given the increasingly blurry lines between our work and personal lives.
One important ritual that has fallen by the wayside for too many of us is our lunch break. Instead of grabbing a salad with a coworker or sitting outside to eat that sandwich, we’re munching away in front of our computers — if we remember to eat at all. Lunch breaks are no longer actual breaks.
But breaks are an important time to recharge and actually improve our work — productivity-wise, mental health-wise and so on. To that end, here are four quick ways to make the most of your breaks.
A brief conversation with a friend or colleague can help you separate yourself from your work, even just for a few minutes. Use your break as a time to check-in and refill your social battery. Because working remotely can feel isolating, this is a great way to connect with someone important to you. (If you do choose a colleague, though, make sure you don’t talk about work.)
A brief meditation session will allow you to relax and gain a moment of peace. During a hectic workday, it could just be the ticket you need to give you the clarity you need to finish out the workday. Meditation can also help you preserve and gain energy, which, of course, is pivotal for making it through your workload.
Put your phone away. Shut your laptop. This is a time to be away from your screens — all of your screens. If you’re like many workers, you spend so much time staring at a screen all day long, and separation from your computer, mobile phone, tablet and whatever else you use throughout the day is in order.
In fact, to make it more valuable, physically get up and move from your workspace, where the allure of the computer screen may be overwhelmingly strong.
Last but not least, don’t forget to eat! We don’t suggest shoveling away your entire meal in five minutes (try mindful eating!), but for at least five minutes, take the time to enjoy your food without working or other distractions. This is critical for refueling and gaining the energy you need to get through the rest of the workday.
There are considerable downsides to skipping meals, even in terms of your work. It makes you less productive — you could get headaches and feel lightheaded, which will make it difficult to focus — and you could perform at a lower level, too. Don’t forget to drink lots of water throughout the day as well.
Don’t feel like you’re being a hero by skipping your lunch break. Time away from work, even brief moments, will not only help you, but it will help your work and productivity, too.
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.
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