Raise your hand if you have been told that you need to take a break and your immediate thought was “I don’t have time for a break!”
I feel you.
I have been there and I am here to tell you that there are ways to recharge, even when you have a million things to do. Let’s break it down into three simple strategies; reframing, peaceful productivity, and sharing the burden.
Let’s start with reframing. Cognitive reframing is a psychological technique that helps a person identify and change the way they look at something. This is a key concept in work-life balance as we often have to reframe the idea of rest. Many people think rest is a selfish or weak practice that takes away from productivity. In reality, the opposite is true as rest is essential to adding value to your life and career. While you might think a break will ruin your output, imagine how much more engaged you’ll be after taking a few moments to shut off your brain and fill your own cup. In order to be the best version of yourself, you need to be constantly building yourself up, and protecting the asset. You would not use your cell phone endlessly without recharging it, so why would you do that to yourself? Reframe your thinking around breaks and accept them for the necessity they are.
Next we have a personal favorite, peaceful productivity. This is usually what I call tasks, projects, or to-do list items that can be completed in a low-stress way. For example, I once alphabetized my business cards while watching episodes of Cheers. This was a task that needed to be done, but I could do it passively in a way that was actually pretty restful. Other examples of could be: returning a phone call while doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher while listening to a podcast, having a walking meeting, or breaking up screen time with a more physical task. When you feel like you cannot take a ‘full’ break and reframing isn’t enough, try tackling things you could do passively that will offer a recharge through peaceful productivity. Bonus points if it involves scenery change!
If the first two options won’t work, consider sharing the burden of your work to at least lessen the load. This is certainly not as effective as taking a break, but if you are up against a deadline sharing the burden is nothing to feel ashamed of. Humans have made the progress they have, because of community. It is ingrained in us to work together to accomplish our goals. When you have a million things to do, it’s ok to ask for help. More often than not, the people around you will understand your overwhelmed feelings and be willing to help. Not to mention the added benefit of having more than one mind on your project. If you are needed a break, but not taking it, you are likely not working at maximum level. Bringing another person into the mix could help enhance outputs or reduce errors. Plus, for those extroverts among us, working with someone can even act like a break as you will likely find an energy surge from the company
So, next time you find yourself hopelessly saying there is no time for a break, consider trying one of the above strategies. Your future self will thank you.