5 Reasons You Should Spend 20 Minutes of Your Work Day NOT Working
Yes. I just said you should spend time every single day NOT working. This is very counter intuitive to the American value of working 12-hour days while eating lunch at your desk and never seeing the light of day. For some inexplicable reason we have almost made it a competitive sport to see who can work harder, longer and with less joy.
I say it’s time we put a stop to it.
I am all for hard work. I work hard and I’m sure you do too. But I want to suggest that for a few moments a few times a day, you should take a break. And when I say take a break, I mean take a break. Get up from your desk. Walk outside. Put on some headphones. Listen to some music, or a podcast, or NOTHING. Why?
- Your brain needs it. The frontal lobe brain networks — responsible for reasoning, planning, decision-making and judgment — work for you in creative ways when the brain is quiet, not while you are effortfully trying to find a solution to a problem. So, if you are sitting and staring at the screen until the words of genius come to you, chances are they won’t. So, give it up. Change your scenery and quiet your mind and see what happens.
- Your spirit needs it. Tons of successful people claim to meditate every day. The LinkedIn CEO Jeffrey Weiner meditates daily. So do Oprah, Jerry Seinfeld and Ray Dalio, the founder of one of the largest hedge funds in the world. So, you too can take as little as 3 minutes a day and do it. You can find 3-minute meditations on YouTube, plug in headphones, and do it right at your desk. Or maybe get a group of colleagues together and try it as a group.
- You need some inspiration. Whether it’s a podcast that always makes you laugh, searching for a quote that gives you meaning, or a quick chat with someone who helps you find a new way of looking at a problem or situation, spending time every day, even 2 or 3 minutes, is worth it.
- Your routine/schedule needs it. Straying away from your predictable systems and workflows increases your brain’s neuroplasticity — that is, it’s ability to form new connections between different thoughts. Put simply, having some flexibility in your routine also makes your brain more flexible. This could mean taking lunch at a different time, grabbing your laptop and heading to an outdoor picnic table, or even starting and ending your day at a different time once a week. Calling it quits 10 minutes earlier is not going to make the plant fall into disarray. I promise.
- Your eyes need it. Try to reduce the amount of time you spend every day looking at screens. Resting with your eyes closed can calm your mind, give at least some of your neurons a break (since you're not actively thinking or concentrating on something), and let your muscles and organs rest. It doesn’t have to be for long. Even just a few minutes can make a huge difference. If you are legitimately worried that your boss will think you are sleeping, let him or her know that this is something you need to do.
Here’s the big picture: you probably spend at least 10 hours at work and commuting every day. If you took four 5-minute breaks during your workday, that would account for less than 4% of the total number of minutes you are there.
If your boss has a huge problem with that, please give ‘em my number – I’ll set ‘em straight.
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.