I remember one of my earlier days when starting the office life. I started to meet the team and had a few different opportunities to shadow. One day in particular I was set to spend time with the top producer on the Team. The first thing she did was had me go to my Calendar. She said “put in a recurring Lunch Hour everyday, and most importantly take that break!” True to her word, she left the building everyday, from 11am to Noon. I thought to myself, what if a client deal comes up that she has to be on? What if this? What if that?
But overall, she took her break, she disconnected, she left and got her time to reset. She had a reputation of being the best, but everyone, clients included, knew that she was going to take her lunch hour and “DO NOT SCHEDULE”.
Just over the last week I have been on so many calls where people have dropped from camera and when a question comes up, “Sorry just sneaking a quick snack, been on calls all day.”
I think we have hit a point where we feel the need to be productive, or even work through lunch but we disguise that as efficiency or necessity. When working from home it becomes even easier to look down and see that not just minutes have passed but hours! We might as well just work a bit more, cut out an hour early? Right? That time shift strategy becomes less successful each time you miss those breaks. The habit starts to solidify and sooner than later you miss your breaks and then you just miss them completely.
Here are some best practices and thoughts I have worked on the last few years and encourage you to give them a shot.
Block Your Time
I know this can seem impossible, I really do sympathize. We have 8 different apps or devices minimum that would lead everyone to believe that you should be reachable at all times. Pressure from coworkers, from clients, so many different responsibilities and items to accomplish! Nothing can slip through the cracks! But really, making sure to block and most importantly, TAKE that time will revitalize you and bring that energy needed.
This can also carry over to Focus Time for tasks that you actually must get done. Deadlines will come and so will those “you have a second? I mean just super quick question” pings that are always more costly than one second.
Articles have been posted over and over about the importance of stepping away, gathering clarity and getting a proper reset.
Understand That It Really Is Ok
This is one of the major issues I have to consistently work through. Sometimes it feels as if I step away or decline a meeting for a break that a whole bunch of tasks or time can be lost. The truth is though, that is not a realistic view. The world does go on. Work will continue, you will be available again, and probably in much more productive spirits. It is not possible to work from the time you open your eyes to the time you go to bed. Even if that happens, I don’t find that to be a rewarding or healthy way to live. You have to spend time outside of work, you have to take time for yourself, it is ok to decompress.
What to do During Break
As mentioned in the last topic, it is ok to decline a meeting for a break, you don’t have to be triple booked to decline a meeting. So now that you have your hour what do you do? Personally, one of my favorite and most rewarding activities is unplug and take a walk. I take about 30 to 45 minutes and just decompress. If weather permits I do walk outside, in my area it still rains a lot but I still find it worth it to go.
At home workouts are still very supported with the ability to get resistance bands, exercise bikes etc. or even just some research on Body Weight Only workouts can fit the bill. Getting your blood pumping and taking some time to keep yourself healthy is key. I do find that the advice of removing yourself from your home office really does make a huge difference.
Obviously, you could also eat! I go through different diet routines at times so I will sometimes be utilizing Intermittent Fasting which means I would skip a meal anyway, but I still find a way to step away. Meal prepping either for the week or the night before is always a key to success to make sure you actually have food ready. Other days, you might just want to change location. Pack up your equipment and spend part of the rest of your day in a coffee shop or library that you can walk to, even a park, working from anywhere means, go wherever!
Make sure to take time for you. Start with your lunch hour, I challenge you to take that time, block out your calendar, turn off notifications, or turn off your phone completely. Whether you work for yourself, or a company, you need your time, I have never spoken to one person who thinks being on meetings all day is productive and leads to results. It is not a sustainable or an enjoyable way to live. Take your lunch hour away from work. Get away, reclaim part of your day.
I have found just this seemingly small habit to help save me from the dreaded “burnout”. It does in some ways, make me feel like I have a bit more control over my life. I believe that one leading factor in burnout and resignation is when you lose yourself in meetings or not being able to control your day. I have found that taking my lunch is something that gives me energy, makes me feel more at peace with my day, and lets me know that my job does not fully control every aspect of my life.
Prioritize yourself and your health. Job roles come and go, but your health is something you don’t want to put on the back burner. Speaking of a break, powering down.
See You Around,