Books, writing, reading and words. I love them; do you?

Take a Break and be More Productive

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Picture courtesy Pixabay.com

People often ask how I manage to get so much done (actually, I don’t achieve as much as I’d like, but that’s another story). One thing that helps is the way I break every hour for just a couple of minutes. It’s long been known that sitting at the keyboard, or bending over the desk with pen in hand, can quickly reduce your performance in every area. Far from making you more effective, working without a break is counter-productive.

I stop only for a couple of minutes each time, but I return to the work refreshed and with eyes no longer tired from staring at that screen or sheet of paper. What do I do in the break? Maybe run up and down the stairs a couple of times, pop into the back bedroom to watch birds on the feeder at the corner of the garden shed, stand and gaze at the passing clouds. Any one of a number of undemanding occupations during this brief break helps rest your mind and your eyes can focus on the distance instead of close-up. And it’s so easy to do.

The aid I use for this is a timer, which I re-set to the hour as soon as its alarm (a wolf’s howl preceded by a few crow calls) alerts me to the end of each hour. Easily installed and set, it’s a useful reminder and may well help you with your own productivity.

Here’s a link to the Howler Timer I use on my Mac.

And, as the one above is suitable only for Macs, here’s a link to the timer I recently installed on my wife’s laptop.

Install the alarm, set it away and see how it affects your output!

Here’s to happy working.

8 Responses to “Take a Break and be More Productive”

  1. Caron Allan

    I completely agree – and taking a break and coming back fresh is a great way to deal with problems where you can’t see the wood for the trees!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • stuartaken

      That’s true, Caron, and, living in a forest, I’m particularly aware of the inability to see the wood for the trees! Sorry, couldn’t resist that.
      It definitely refreshes the thought processes.

      Like

      Reply
  2. joanbarbarasimon

    Hi Stuart,
    I’ve been trying to do this too, but not as regularly as you do. Taking my dog for a walk always does me good. Sometimes I lie on the bed and do my breathing exercises. Or give my back a good stretch. The latest activity on my Time Out list: watching you 3-month-old lambs, Humphrey and Bubbles, frolick. Nothing better for forgetting all else for a few minutes!

    But what when it comes to work you’re not so keen on. Do you find any excuse good enough not to return to it, like I do (which, I suppose, would mean your breaks are also longer!), or do your emotional preferences not get in the way?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • stuartaken

      My wife and I try to take a walk in the forest at least once a day. Sometimes the weather may prevent that, but most of the time, we manage, sometimes spending two or three hours out there. But that’s an activity for pleasure and rarely intrudes on my work time as such. I started writing when I was employed full time, had a spell of part time work when I suffered from ME/CFS for 10 years, and I’m now retired from employment and also fully recovered from the ME, so I find my time spent writing is far more fluid now. I have a few projects on the go and I work on these as time allows, usually concentrating mostly on the WIP (currently a scifi story set on Mars). But I tend to do my blog posts two or three at a time and then post them at the appropriate times.
      As for those jobs I least enjoy, well, apart from the mechanics of everyday life that can get in the way a bit, I find I enjoy most of what I do, so it’s rarely a problem. Even though I’m now effectively retired, I find I don’t have the time I really want to get everything done, so I prioritise and work in the knowledge that what doesn’t get done today will get done eventually, if it’s important enough!

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      Reply
    • stuartaken

      It’s all an illusion!
      You seem to do pretty well, Mick.
      Today, I spent the morning giving the penultimate gloss coat to the outer doors of the house. Just come back from a walk in the forest. We’d intended to go for a short saunter but the mood took us and we spent a good couple of hours wandering, listening to and watching the birds, marvelling at the spring growth that’s been encouraged by the current warm weather. Now I’ catching up here before I do few more bits on the WIP before the evening meal and a spot of relaxation with a drop of the red stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • Mick Canning

        More productive than my day, I’m afraid. I published a blog post and then we spent the day around the house and garden doing not much. Oh well, research tomorrow morning, and writing in the afternoon.

        Probably.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. stuartaken

    Ah, but, Mick, think of all that subconscious plot building, idea filing and language tweaking that’s going on during those relaxing times. We’re writers: it’s a fact of life for us that we are never at rest!

    Like

    Reply

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