Taking breaks is important, no matter what task you’re tackling. It’s easy for your brain to hit an information overload, which can make you feel less motivated and productive while you’re working, so even just a few minutes away can help.
Breaks are even more important as a remote worker. One study found that working from home can actually make employees more productive. But, if you’re easily distracted, you’re feeling pressured, or you can’t find the motivation to get things done, that obviously won’t be the case.
So, why are breaks so important when you’re working remotely, and how can you take effective ones, rather than spending your time doing things that will hinder your productivity?
Why do breaks matter?
When you’re working remotely, you might feel like you don’t need a break since you’re already in the comfort of your home. But, breaks matter no matter where you are. Not only are they beneficial to your mental and physical health, but they give your mind a chance to relax and recharge. Some of the benefits you can experience, even from a short break, include:
- Feeling re-energized
- Having improved focus
- Less stress
- More optimism
- Boosted creativity
When you’re working remotely, it can sometimes be difficult to find a healthy work-life balance. You might feel like you’re “on the clock” all the time. While setting up a routine and specific work hours throughout the day can help, giving yourself enough breaks will also make a difference. When you’re stressed and overwhelmed with work, you’re less likely to be productive or motivated to continue. You’ll also strike a better balance with your personal life because you won’t feel like every waking moment is dedicated to your job.
If you’ve felt guilty about taking breaks in the past, keep these benefits in mind. The more effective you make your breaks, the more you can get done when you get back to work.
What does an effective break look like?
Once you understand how important breaks are, it’s just as crucial to know how to make the most of them. You might be tempted to reach for your phone or do a little browsing online, but try to avoid that as much as possible. Chances are, you’re working on a computer all day already. So, breaks are necessary for your eye health. Research has shown that 50-90% of people who work in an office setting each day can experience symptoms of double vision, irritated eyes, headaches, or back and neck pain. Stepping away from electronic devices during your breaks will help you avoid those issues.
So, what can you do to make your breaks as impactful as possible for productivity? Some ideas that can help you to feel re-energized include:
- Grabbing a healthy snack to fuel your mind and body
- Getting outside
- Doing something you enjoy
- Taking a brisk walk
- Meditating or practicing mindfulness
You know what makes you feel good, and you know what boosts your energy. Make sure you include those things in your breaks throughout the day, so when you get back to work you can focus all of your attention and effort on your tasks. An effective break isn’t just about mindlessly relaxing. It’s about giving your mind and body what they need to feel rejuvenated.
Scheduling time to step back
If you have a hard time taking breaks or knowing when to take one, try scheduling them into your day. Developing a daily work routine will help you to feel more organized, less stressed, and your breaks will be guaranteed. If you use a digital calendar, block out your break times every day so you won’t forget.
Keep in mind, however, that your scheduled breaks don’t need to be the only ones you take. If you’re feeling especially sluggish, unproductive, or unmotivated at some point during the day, step away from your work for a while. Even taking a break for a few minutes can make a difference in your productivity.
If you happen to be working remotely by yourself, like as a freelancer, time management can be a major issue. One of the best ways to combat poor time management is to create set business or working hours, and regular breaks are part of these hours. Your regular hours and breaks can help you stay focused. It takes a lot of discipline to work remotely, especially when there are distractions all around. By following a routine/schedule, limiting those distractions, and allowing yourself breaks every day, you can end up being more productive at home than you were in an office setting, and find more satisfaction in your career.
About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity and marketing strategies.