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Koan

The Secret to Getting More Done

Danielle Heberling
https://www.danielleheberling.xyz/
・2 min read

It was a cold and rainy day as I sat alone in my home office debugging Webpack config errors. No matter what I tried, the errors would not go away. My natural inclination was to "just get through most of them" before eating lunch. But as I fixed errors, more emerged. Do you know what eventually got me through these hang ups?

Taking a break.

As my hunger grew stronger, I decided to give in and went to lunch. Being able to step away and temporarily detach my mind from the task at hand was just what I needed to approach this problem with a fresh approach full of new things to try.

Time and time again, the act of taking a break has helped immensely both for getting meaningful work done and for my overall mental state.

sander-dalhuisen-nA6Xhnq2Od8-unsplash

Photo by Sander Dalhuisen on Unsplash

My top three activities while taking a break throughout the workday are:

  1. Take a walk outside if weather isn't too bad.
  2. Change my surroundings. This could mean working at nearby coffee shop or moving from a desk to a couch. The context switching required to get up and move also helps to refocus.
  3. Read a book. Bonus points if it is a physical copy or on an e-reader. It's important to not stare at the same screen all day.

Some companies are planning to take this idea a step further and are piloting a four day work week. Personally, I'm really interested to see how the rise of remote/hybrid workplaces as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic affects workers' break frequency. Curious to see if it goes up or down. In the meantime, I'm happy I get to work on a team that facilitates working with purpose, built on a culture that supports transparency, autonomy and inclusivity.

Four-day weeks and hybrid workplaces don't mean less work—just a more honest accounting of what already goes on. The standard work week in the USA is currently 40 hours, but no one is actually productive that entire time. I set up a poll on Twitter to get some data points on this and here's the results.

twitterPoll

Remembering to take breaks has helped me to get more done while working fewer hours, and I can support my teammates better by bringing my best self to my work. Maybe it can help you too. What are some of your favorite activities to do when taking a break during the work day?

Discussion (1)

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RJ Zaworski

Sage advice. Thanks for sharing this @deeheber !