I’m going to assume that most of my readership is too young to remember the sitcom that today’s title is taken from. “Gimme a Break” was a sitcom that aired in the early 80’s and featured Nell Carter playing a housekeeper named Nell Harper (I know, not very imaginative…) who looks after three young girls for a local police chief. Although it was mostly on because my father watched it, it’s one of those early shows from my childhood that occasionally passes through my subconscious. I can still hear the theme song…
Anyway, enough with the nostalgia! Today’s post is literally about breaks, as it relates to daily life and work. I’ve written on occasion about needing breaks from fitness routines and that still rings true. As important as it may be to stick to a routine and keep fit, sometimes you need to let your body recuperate. The same is just as true for one’s mind. This means taking a break from whatever cranial endeavours you may have your nose buried into, whether it’s paid work or personal study and research.
Last week I found myself working well beyond my scheduled shift. Although this isn’t an unusual occurrence for me, it’s one that I discourage among my staff and coworkers. The simple reason behind this is to prevent people from burning out and reducing their productivity. When we get exhausted, we tend to lose focus, concentration and make mistakes. I only realized when I had worked for almost four hours beyond my scheduled shift end that maybe I needed to back off a bit. It’s pretty easy to get carried away, when you love your job and work from home. But I digress…
It’s always seemed as though I’ve worked with one of two extremes: people who always seem to be doing nothing and the people who never seem able to shut down. The key is to find the happy medium. And with that, I can provide an example. On a particular day, one of my staff asks me if I’d like to join for a morning coffee. I have a mountain of work piling up and I think that I should likely keep at it, until a thought crosses my mind. The fifteen to twenty minutes I take to grab a coffee and converse briefly won’t make the pile bigger. AND it will allow me to shift my mind’s perspective long enough to refresh me. Breaks can be important.
We walk to the next staff’s office. We ask if he wants to join for coffee. He declines because he has too much work to do. Okay, fair enough. but the scenario is the same for that employee. The work will still be there in fifteen minutes and the break is short enough it won’t make it worse. But it may make it better and easier for the employee. After some coaxing, the employee finally decides to join us and we spend twenty minutes chatting about various things and sipping our coffees. Everyone returns to their respective offices with smiles on their faces and caffeine in their systems. Good times.
Sometimes we forget to that even when our bodies are at rest, our minds need a break as well. Even though you may spend 8 hours sitting at a desk (which is fuckin’ horrible for you, BTW. You need to get up every hour, stretch and look outside), your mind needs that occasional respite to recharge and rest, as well. That can only be accomplished by pulling yourself away from the pile and stepping elsewhere. This can apply whether you’re at a job, working from home, studying or doing personal study and/or research. It really doesn’t matter.
The mere act of stepping away and coming back with a refreshed set of eyes can often help increase or maintain your productivity. And if nothing else, it’s important for you from a mental health standpoint. I’ve often said, “When you aren’t exercising the body, you be exercising the mind.” As true as that may be, it’s also important to remember that no matter HOW you rest the body, you should also take time to rest your mind. No matter what your situation, don’t skimp on your breaks. They can pay dividends in the one run. Food for thought… ☯