This isn't just a good excuse to work less, there's actually scientific evidence that supports taking frequent breaks when working. I know most of you feel this is easier said that done when you're running your own business because if you stop, there's not always someone there to take up the slack.
But, making your own wellbeing a priority is a goal that will serve the business in the long run. I mean, if you burn yourself out after a year or two, are you really going to blame that extra 10-20 minutes per day where you weren't working?
What Does Science Say?
This study highlights that the brain responds to change and that focusing on the same thing for too long will actually result in your brain considering this task to lose importance as it gets used to it. Think about the energy boost you get from varying your routines - your brain is responding to the change from what it's used to. So even a small break from your work will give your mind something else to focus on and when you return, you'll have a renewed interest in your task.
Researchers have also found that moderate exercise makes you more creative so if your break includes a bit of sweatin' you'll be even better positioned to be productive when you return to the task!
If you don't regularly take breaks in your day, maybe it's time to do a bit of research yourself! So experiment with what works for you. There are all sorts of techniques that specify different rhythms and timings that are best suited for increasing productivity but you will still see improvements even if you're just ensuring that you stop a few times during your focused work blocks to focus on something else. So approach it in the way that fits your energy and schedule but just make sure you have enough breaks!
Self-Care Comes in Many Forms
I know that some people will wonder what to do with their time during a break - the idea is not to do the same type of task or work that you have been doing. So, whether it's taking a short walk, having a conversation, catching up on your favourite blog, or even getting something to eat or drink, your brain will have a moment to relax and think about something else.
Making breaks part of your schedule is a great way to ensure that you are taking them. For myself, often when I switch tasks (I don't typically work on something more than 90 minutes straight) I find a moment to throw the ball with my dog, or to make a cup of tea. I might even do some laundry if I'm at home. Anything to switch focus from what I'm doing. I find that even if I'm returning to the same task I left, I have a fresher mind which definitely feels better than pushing through to completion if I'm feeling exhausted by it.
If you're looking for more details about why breaks are good for you, and strategies you can use to approach your breaks, check out this article which covers a few different methods as well as a big list of activities you can do on your breaks!
For me, I think it's time for a break...