The Productivity Boosting but Surprisingly Elusive Work Break

Image by Jan Alexander from Pixabay 

I am a strong supporter of starting with the simplest solution because I have found that it is often the most effective. Thus, in exploring the negative impacts of remaining seated most of the day and simultaneously trying out some of the recommended solutions, I started with the simple concept of moving more. I know myself well enough to set up a reminder system rather than rely on memory alone. When I get focused in my work, hours can pass and the next thing I know, lunchtime has come and gone, my neck and shoulders are a bit achy, and I am pitched forward in my chair apparently in a desperate attempt to become one with my computer monitor. My less than dainty head takes on far heavier proportions at this position as Erik Dalton @ErikDalton_PhD describes in the 42lb Head https://erikdalton.com/blog/42lb-head/.

I partnered with the great and powerful timer to get some action into my work day and rein in that heavy headed posture of mine. I set the timer on my phone to provide the least annoying reminder I could find at 30 minute intervals. I can not claim that I had strong confidence that the timer would be my sedentary cure-all, but I thought it would be a step in the right direction. Not surprisingly, the timer frequently went off while I was in a meeting, on a call, or engrossed in a task that I wouldn’t kick to the curb. Ultimately, the timer did remind me to move more, and if I did not stand and move when the timer went off, I was at least made aware of my posture and body position. If I was not able to take a break, I frequently rolled my shoulders back and readjusted my posture in response to the reminder.

I now have a greater awareness of my workday and the challenges with being able to take frequent breaks that were not planned into my schedule. The value of frequent breaks is clear in reducing the risks associated with being seated for too long, in increased mindfulness that allow us to notice and correct poor posture, and in increasing productivity. Your natural highs and lows in energy levels can be capitalized on to work most productively for a period, followed by short breaks to allow your body and mind to recover for your next productive period, as described by Nils Salzgeber @NJlifehacks in Why Taking Frequent Breaks is the Key to Productivity http://www.asianefficiency.com/productivity/taking-frequent-breaks-key-productivity/. I expect the key to reaping the rewards of breaks is being able to take them in the first place. While a timer is a helpful reminder, back-to-back meetings, calls and projects do not leave organic breaks in the daily schedule. It might be time to reevaluate that daily schedule and see what changes we can make to fit in breaks for increased health and productivity.   

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