How to be More Productive at Work: 4 Techniques to Make Your Work Breaks Count
No matter what your job is, there are likely times where you feel drained, stressed, or even anxious. Most workplaces give at least a lunch break along with a morning and afternoon break. Many of us take other breaks throughout the day too, whether they are planned or unplanned. A planned break might be a trip to the restroom that turns into a chat with your favorite coworker. An unplanned break might be that half hour you spend on social media because you are struggling to get down to task.
Fortunately, there are solutions for battling the feelings of being drained and stressed, which will reduce procrastination and increase productivity. The solutions occur in the forms of various techniques that you can implement throughout your day (even before and after work, to start and end the day right). Try any and all of these four techniques to make your work breaks work for you:
1. Visualize your goals
Use the psychological technique of visualization to start your day right. This technique can simply involve visualizing what you hope to accomplish in the day ahead. You can spend a few minutes at the beginning of the workday practicing this approach to visualization to set yourself up for success. Once you envision what you want to accomplish, you will be clear on your goals and may even have a road map to them. This can help to energize you through the rest of the workday.
2. Practice deep breathing
One technique for stress management is deep breathing. The reality is, many people do not breathe as deeply as they should. Further, if you think of the last time you were feeling stressed, you may recall taking even shallower breaths. You can tell you are breathing deeply enough by whether your abdomen rises when you inhale. Taking some slow deep breaths offers the benefit of giving your body more oxygen and it can also slow down your heartrate. All of this can have a calming effect on the mind.
Aside from the physical benefits that ultimately bring a state of calm, everyone can benefit from spending some time each day, quietly focused on something other than thinking, thinking, thinking. If you are thinking of your breathing, you are turning your mind away from all the stressful thoughts that might otherwise consume you. Spending 15 minutes doing some deep breathing is ideal, but even five minutes of deep breathing will be helpful. This is an easy approach you can practice anywhere.
So, the next time you are at your desk and feeling stressed, just take five minutes to practice some deep breathing and calm your mind. You can also use this approach in an even shortened form during other stressful times. For example, if you are in a tense meeting and you can feel your stress building, you might calm yourself a bit by taking a few deep breaths. This can help you calm down and focus. Doing some deep breathing at the end of the work day might also be a good way to transition your mindset.
3. Observe your environment
Sometimes when people are stressed, they get all up in their heads with spinning thoughts. There may also be physical feelings of anxiety, such as a racing heart rate and muscle tension. These mental thoughts and physical feelings can disconnect you from your surroundings. This can make it really difficult to focus in meetings and even at your desk when you are trying to complete your tasks.
Aside from deep breathing, another simple way to settle yourself down can be through mindfulness activities. Mindfulness can take many forms but at a basic level it is about being mentally present in the present moment. This means that a very simple approach to achieving mindfulness can be just simple observation of your environment. You might really notice your environment by looking for five things that you can smell, feel, hear, and see. Trying this approach can connect you to the environment, ground you in the current moment, and settle your mind. You will have a sense of calm and more focus.
4. Use lunch time
Think about how you use your lunch break. Perhaps there are days when you eat at your desk, busily typing away between bites. Or perhaps you schedule working lunches with colleagues. This is not very helpful because it gives you no down-time. You then go into the afternoon without having had any chance to de-stress and re-charge. Use your lunch time in ways that will be productive for your state of mind. There are many ways you can use your lunch break to reduce your stress and boost your energy.
The specific way you use your lunch will likely depend on your unique personality, personal needs, and interests. Many people like to have lunch with co-workers, which can have its benefits in terms of socialization and even getting out of the office for a bit. However, if you are more of an introvert, you might at least sometimes find it helpful to have lunch on your own, either in your office or out of the office. If you choose to stay in the office, make lunch time a chance to do something besides work.
Lunchtime is the perfect chance to do some deep breathing or another relaxation exercise. If surfing social media is more your speed, then this is the time to have at it. Another approach you might try is called mindful eating. This is where you can apply those principles of observation to your food. Slow down and notice the smells, colors, and tastes of your food. Doing this, and really enjoying your meal, can make your lunch break a time for not only physical refreshment but mental refreshment as well.
Final Recommendations :
Sometimes it can be challenging to protect yourself from the stressors of work, which may leave you drained. Taking some mental and physical breaks from work throughout the day can help. Even then, it can sometimes be difficult to set the necessary boundaries to protect your time. If you need assistance in learning how to set boundaries for your time, and in learning the techniques for using your breaks most effectively for mental wellness, then consider seeing a mental health professional. Counselling in Melbourne provides a range of counselling and mental health services – to connect with a therapist visit https://counsellinginmelbourne.com.au. Our counselors and therapists can assist people in improving their ability to manage work place stress and anxiety.
Reviewed by Greg Redmond, Director Counselling in Melbourne, 2018
This article is for general educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioural problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.