Across the U.S., the average employee will spend about 8 hours at work. During these hours, they’ll take a number of (productive and unproductive) breaks from what they’re doing to surf the Web or chat with coworkers. A survey of over 2,000 participants concluded that 80% of employees waste time at work on non-related tasks. This data should come as no surprise as “an adult’s attention span lasts from 15-45 minutes,” according to Sarah Herstich, licensed clinicial social worker.
A survey by BambooHR sought to discover the biggest ways employees waste time at work. Their poll concluded that trips to the break room, water cooler, or restroom were the biggest culprits of wasted time. Followed by gossiping and small talk with co-workers, then family members. Other work place distractions included on-line personal errands, social media, and watching television.
Instead of mindlessly clicking through social media, or gossiping with your co-workers, what if you could take “better breaks” which re-energize you and boost your mood? Here are four tips to get more from your work breaks:
1. Examine your priorities. Cary J. Green, Ph.D, notes, “Everything is not important.” Oftentimes adults have so many responsibilities they forget to examine what is meaningful to them. Take out a piece of paper and make a list of what gives your life purpose from the most meaningful to the least. Identify which of these areas you have not been giving enough attention to and begin integrating these priorities into your schedule.
2. Identify what reenergizes you. Review your list of priorities and star anything that reinvigorates you. One study found that when employees engage in activities they prefer during their break, they return to their work related tasks more energized. Perhaps calling family or a quick stroll outside are meaningful avenues to help you recharge. Find ways to fit in habits that reenergize you into your schedule every day. Conversely, if something is meaningful to you, such as speaking to your parents, but it totally drains you, save that for your drive home after work. Take a moment to get really clear on a handful of tasks that typically clear your mind and revitalize you.
3. Plan for the next time you can have a moment to yourself. Once employees have been with a company for a while, they typically get an idea of what their schedule looks like. For instance, what times of the day are typically fast-paced what time of day is prone to lulls? Try to plan your breaks accordingly. A Baylor University study concluded that breaks taken in the mid-morning are more likely to boost energy, concentration, and creativity compared to breaks taken in the mid-afternoon.
4. Understand how you can better use small breaks. If you keep track of your schedule for 48 hours, marking down everything you are doing down to the minute, you will be shocked at how much time you are wasting in five to fifteen-minute increments. Next time you have a spare few minutes, refer back to your list of priorities and choose an activity that supports what you care about and try to execute it. “Clients benefit from working a mindfulness break into their days, especially when they are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. By taking a moment to pause and ground themselves in the present, they are able to create space for the overwhelm and stress that they are feeling to move through them, to keep them focused on the present and tasks at hand,” says Herstich.
Maura Thomas, the author of Personal Productivity Secrets, says, “the next time you have a spare moment, instead of reaching for your phone or tablet, just let your mind wander. Your brain needs quiet time to make connections and generate insights.” Taking intentional breaks to recharge is “vital to keep creativity and productivity flowing,” says Herstich. Workplace breaks are inevitable, they key is to be mindful of how we take them.
This article was written by Rachel Ritlop from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.