Do you find your to-do list growing throughout the day instead of decreasing?
Does that make you feel like staying in the office longer just to get everything done? And that it may be better to skip your gym session at the Club and eat lunch at your desk whilst you continue working?
Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
With more stuff to get done than ever before, we might feel like we should work longer and take fewer breaks and theoretically this should make sense…more time equals more stuff done, right?
Wrong! You see this is NOT how our brains and our bodies function. In actual fact the longer we work without taking a break the slower we become, the more mistakes we make and the easier we get distracted.
Fear not, you can avoid this and still get everything done, with time left over to workout, eat properly, spend time with friends and family and get quality sleep.
The answer is: stop and take regular breaks.
Even though this might seem counter intuitive, taking regular breaks will restore your brain with the necessary glucose and oxygen so you can use it at full power again. Every day you start off with having all the metabolic resources to be productive, but within an hour and a half these resources drop off and your ability to stay focused and work on high demand tasks diminishes. You see the truth is, our brains get very hungry, very quickly and unless it gets what it needs - glucose (food/water) and oxygen (fresh air), it doesn’t work so well anymore. So when we continue our workday without restoring these recourses, our brain becomes a lot less motivated to help us out. To combat this it’s best to work in 90-minute cycles.
Working in blocks of 90 minutes works wonders, the best way to do it and stick to it is to set a timer and take a break every 90 minutes. If you try this for a few weeks, you’ll soon notice that you can get a lot more done in 3 or 4 blocks than slogging away non-stop.
My top 5 tips that will help you restore and refuel your brain.
- Take a break. Take regular breaks every 90 minutes to stay at your most productive throughout the work day. Do something completely different and enjoyable such as listening to music or and having a chat with a colleague.
- Stretch your legs. Go for a quick walk, this will help you get your creative juices flowing and help you come up with new ideas and great solutions. Ideally go for a walk outside but if you can’t, have a walk around the office or make the tea run.
- Exercise to feel good. Don’t skip the gym! A workout will help release your happy hormones such as dopamine. Why not go to the Club and get in a yoga class when you need to relax and a spinning class when you could do with a full body work out
- Eat well. Make sure you eat lunch and keep your glucose levels topped up for full brain power. It is also important to drink plenty of fluid and stay hydrated to keep you functioning at 100%.
- Have a rest. If you can, take a short nap – a 7-10 min nap can already substantially increase your brain performance and alertness and help prevent making silly mistakes and getting distracted.
About the Author
Annette Paterakis is an Applied Psychologist graduate, certified EMDR therapist, Mindfulness trainer and Equicoach. She is the founder of The Third Life a training and coaching company aimed at personal development, primarily through a combination of science, stress management and mindfulness. Her customers include entrepreneurs and executives in London, Olympic athletes and the Dutch police. With a background as a professional and international equestrian rider, Annette loves being challenged and active. Her favorite sporting activities (at the moment) are yoga, strength training, running, tennis and horse riding.
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