Photo and article by Rain San Martin
Society has programmed us to run nonstop, multitask, and
fill our minds with continual chatter. Often the key to being more productive
is counterintuitive – it means taking time to break from our work and daily
Our minds become sharper with intentional silence, planned breaks,
and regular physical movement.
1) Take one day to
unplug each week.
Across the country there are digital detox movements,
including the National Day to Unplug, where people are speaking up about
excessive internet, smartphone, and media use. More and more families
communicate with each other via texting, even though they are in the same house.
The solution: periodically “unplug.”
By unplugging one day each week you’ll learn how to:
- Live in the moment and become more aware of your natural surroundings.
- Slow down your mind, so that you can refocus on your life purpose.
- If you have kids, you can model how to enjoy the richness of life without the background noise of TV, video games, and tablets.
- Be less dependent on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pandora on regular days. Silence will feel normal, and so will walking without texting.
Paul Miller from TheVerge.com performed a life experiment
where he abstained from the internet for one whole year! He unplugged his Wi-Fi,
and swapped his smart phone for a basic phone.
During his experiment, he became more aware of others.
people were no longer dependent on Twitter.
When he returned to the internet one year later, he realized that it was
a valuable tool for staying connected with loved ones. Now he’s more engaged in
social situations, listens with more undivided attention, and is living with
The lesson: use the
internet as a means to an end (not an end in itself). Pay attention to the people in your life.
Setting clear boundaries and clarifying the expectations of others
is important when you break from the Web. If you’re looking for an extended
break from the internet, Fast Company explains how in a post entitled, “How to #Unplug
in 6 Steps.”
2) Power nap for 10-20
Brief naps will help you stay productive during your working
hours, as you will be more alert, energized, and focused.
There are two ways to
approach napping: you may simply close your eyes and still your mind, or you
may choose to fall asleep. Both are beneficial, and will recharge your
On MarieClaire.com, an article entitled, “The Napping
Revolution,” states how 10 minutes of rest in the afternoon is all you need to
improve your work performance. Alertness and cognitive function are both
improved with as little as 8.4 minutes per day, and the effects can last for 3
If you are unable to lay down in your office or workspace,
you can catch a quick wink in your car. Do you bike to work? There may be a
public park nearby where you can lay on the grass.
recommends sleeping no longer than 30 minutes, as it will interfere with your
sleep cycle. Bring a portable alarm to ensure you make it back to work on time.
If you don’t have time to take a full nap, micro recharging
sessions where you lay down for 1-3 minutes will give you a quick boost. It’s
important to note that naps are not a substitute for a solid regular sleeping
cycle of 8 hours per night.
Combining good sleep habits with an afternoon nap
will give you maximum performance, and you’ll enjoy your waking hours more
fully with added vitality.
3) Every 30 minutes, get
up and move
An infographic posted on Healthdecide.orcahealth.com says
that breaks are more effective when taken before your body needs a rest. The
graphic states that 1 in 3 people skip their lunch break, and the remaining 2
out of 3 workers eat at their desks, or skip lunch entirely.
When we stare at
the computer for long periods of time, it may appear like we’re productive, yet
we may be growing more fatigued. When
our minds become tired we become more prone to make errors in our work.
Set your timer; focus on a key task, then break to stimulate
circulation in your legs.
This is also a way to reduce interruptions and
increase focus. Some productivity experts use the Pomodoro Technique to
complete their tasks. This involves setting their Pomodoro timer for 25
minutes, taking a 5 minute break, then repeating.
If you want to stay productive during these “breaks,” you
could walk to another part of the office to deliver an item, or perform a quick
chore if you work from a home office.
According to a study posted on
ajcn.nutrition.org, getting up and walking for under 2 minutes every half hour
is effective in decreasing the glucose and insulin levels of diabetics.
Sometimes it takes a bold attitude to go against the grain
and “unplug” weekly, power nap daily, and avoid sitting still for more than 30
You’ll be happy you took the time to recharge your batteries, not only
so you can feel better, but so you can achieve more quality work during your
How do you recharge?