A few weeks back, I drove down 🚗 to my home town with my parents and stayed there doing nothing and just enjoying nature and catching up on my reading list. This was the much-needed break that I realized when I came back to work.
It is February 2021, almost a year to work from home since the pandemic hit us. A lot of us are facing some kind of burnout. It has also been difficult to differentiate between work life and personal life. While we were working from an office, commute to the office, the coffee break ☕️ or random chit-chat with co-workers were some kinds of breaks. These used to our daily breaks. Now we just schedule meetings, not breaks. ☹️
Recently, I was talking to one of the juniors from my work, that I had once worked 40 hrs at a stretch. It wasn’t a brag but warning him not to do such silly things. I had a similar long working hour for a few weeks then. This had affected my health, then had to take straight 2-3 days off to feel better. It had help me to prioritize my health and personal life. I think I’m fortunate to realize at the very beginning of my career, how important is it to take a break from work and not to burn yourself.
When we are passionate about work, be it the product or the technology. Sometimes even both. We often feel guilty to take breaks. We end up working late hours to push that important feature or the interesting technical problem you got to solve. It is okay to push yourself sometimes, but remind yourself to take care of your health too.
Because we are so connected with the problem we want to solve, even on vacations, we are mentally still back at work. I recommend when taking breaks its best to cut yourself out from work to free up your mind and rejuvenate.
“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” – Maya Angelou
But what I would like to focus on further is identifying when to take a break. To solve this problem for me I developed a system to define when and what type of break I should be taking
- Short Break
- “Not so long” Break
- Long Break
The short break is a “short break” taken during your workday. It could be a 5-10 mins break or a small nap that could vary between 10 mins to 1 hr (or based on your definition of short break). The purpose of a short break is to stop thinking about the solution or problem. During this time, you take a walk, daydream, snack, read, doodle, look at nature, exercise, call up family or friends etc
Confused about when should you be taking a short break?
If you are taking double the time to finish the task or struggling to find solutions to your problem or just finished an important task for the day or you just spent 15 mins at a broken application because of a typo, it’s time for you to take a short break.
How to implement short breaks in your work schedule?
There are multiple ways out there you could try, and mix-match based on your requirements. I usually take a break for 5 minutes once in an hour or so. Sometimes when I am in a flow of getting things done, I forget to take breaks too. What I did often for a change of atmosphere is to go out of the room. Take a walk in balcony or on the terrace.
You should be taking at least a few hours of break from work once a week. You could plan it after a major release. You could also plan it after continuously working including the weekends over the week.
“One day a week I seek to rest from earthly toil and sorrow. Revitalised, I find the strength to battle new tomorrows.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich
“Not so Long” Break could also be a weekend off where you are away from work not checking emails or responding to queries or fixing small bugs. It is my favourite as I get to do nothing and just relax. You just have to turn off your system and relax. You could also plan for family movie time or dinner plans with your friends or catch up on long-overdue binge-worthy TV series.
Long breaks are long-awaited breaks. It should be at least a week a year. This requires you stepping out of the house and taking off from work. It is better to let your team, friends and family know in advance when you are planning to take a week off.
Long breaks are refreshing and when you come back you feel more passion towards your work. It is difficult for us to take a week long vacation to some exotic tourist destination. You could go to nearby place or visit family or relatives. Please do take precautions and follow safety protocols by your government while doing so.
So guys just remember, doesn’t matter what kind of break you are taking it, do take a break and rejuvenate yourself.
Go ahead a take a break, you deserve it! ❤️
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