Time management Monday: Actual downtime

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[Criss.AC] Bench in the sun

It’s been proven again and again that taking breaks during your workday can help you regain focus and be more productive. Yet I think few of us take actual breaks with real downtime. More often, during breaks we do a different kind of work, for our brains at least.

During my breaks I find myself online, usually on Facebook or news websites. This is no kind of break for my brain. Each link presents a decision: do I click on it? Do I pass it by? Studies have shown that we get decision fatigue, and being online presents us with high volumes of rapid-fire decisions.

Once I’ve clicked through to any particular website, there is a visual onslaught of ads and videos among the text, vying for my attention. Again, the decisions: what do I look at? What do I ignore?

Just reading a news article can be a challenge on some websites where ads are embedded within the text. Sometimes I have to search to find where the text picks back up again.

Even without the ads and visual clutter, the content exhausts me. After 30 minutes I find I’ve read a little bit about lots of things: local and international news; my friend’s new cat and the debate on what to name it; the weather forecast and radar images; a friend of a friend’s vacation photos; random videos of dogs in the pool; and so on.

After a “break” like this I find I’m more fatigued than when I started.

I’ve decided to make a point to take actual downtime during my breaks. When the weather’s nice I go sit outside and watch the birds or people go by. I don’t look at my phone or my planner. The point is to let my brain rest. No decisions to make, no input to sort, no content to evaluate. I just go outside and breathe. When I come back to work, I feel refreshed and have more ideas.

What do you do on your “breaks?” Do you look at a screen, go for a walk, talk to a friend, or just sit somewhere and breathe? What makes you feel refreshed?

3 thoughts on “Time management Monday: Actual downtime

  1. I have to have time away from the phone and just work. I know I work so much better. The weather in the UK is helping this week says:

    I need my breaks. Just to get away and think about something else. The weather is being kind to us this week in the UK, so we can catch some rays.

  2. Walking is important for me as my break time. It is where I manage to sort through my brain clutter and actually figure out how to make things work.

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