The workaholics among us (I can count myself in that group too much of the time) often feel that taking a break is a sign of weakness, or at least will reduce our productivity. In reality, and perhaps counter intuitively, taking breaks can help you to rejuvenate and regain your focus, and thereby increase your overall effectiveness and productivity, whether the work you are doing is physical, mental, or a combination of both.
When you are engaged in a task intently, it can be easy to keep going for long stretches of time on autopilot and lose track of time, even if your intention is to take breaks periodically. Fortunately, there are many technological tools that can help you take breaks and return to being focused, such as:
- Time Out: Reminds you to take a “micro” break (e.g., for 10 seconds after every 10 minutes) and a “normal” break (e.g., for 10 minutes after every 50 minutes). Amounts of time are configurable.
- Focus Booster: One of many Pomodoro Technique apps, FocusBooster reminds you to take breaks and then to return to work periodically. Available online, for Windows, and for Mac.
- Do Nothing for 2 Minutes: As its name implies, it just plays a countdown timer for two minutes over a calming nature scene.
If you are someone who tries to push through your day (and night) by working without breaks hour after hour, give one of these apps a try. Whether you are trying to be more present or simply more effective, I think you will find that incorporating structured breaks into your routine will help you to accomplish your goal.