You've finally made the leap. You quit your day job, set up a home office and started your new life as an entrepreneur. Congratulations! But now that the initial excitement has passed, you may be feeling some trepidation. Perhaps you aren’t as productive as you’d like, or you find that you keep hitting a mental block, or maybe it’s just a matter of feeling a bit lost now that you no longer have the “office scuttlebutt” to look forward to. If this sounds familiar, you’ve likely overlooked one of the most basic components of the office – the break-room.
There’s a reason every office has a break-room or a water-cooler, and it’s not to provide a delivery system for office gossip. Scheduled breaks increase productivity and will ultimately allow you to accomplish higher quality work. In fact, a recent study at the University of Illinois, conducted by Alejandro Lleras, found that “When faced with long tasks, it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!” Obviously, you do not need an actual physical space, but it is highly important and beneficial to schedule regular breaks throughout your workday.
Taking a pause can help in various ways:
**Breaking down your workload into smaller “chunks” makes tasks seem less daunting.**If you know that you only have to accomplish one or two goals before taking a break, you are more likely to cease procrastinating. The break in this case functions as a reward and may actually be the catalyst that gets you to sit down and start working in the first place.
**Giving yourself a moment away from your work can refresh your brain.**It’s fairly common while working to come up against a wall. You can’t find the right words for a proposal, a proper solution for a problem or you find that despite reading a contract three times you haven’t absorbed any of it. All of this can be remedied by taking a break, your phone messages aren't going anywhere, after all. Get up, take a walk around the block, or grab a cup of coffee. Occupy your mind with something else, and when you return to your desk, it'll be with ‘fresh eyes.’ Think of it as a mental re-boot.
**Scheduling breaks means that ultimately you have to map out your workday, which means that you are more organized, and less likely to go off track.**Organizing oneself is difficult. “The Boss” is not always loved, but his deadlines and demands keep you accountable. Being your own boss can be hard, but if you plan your workload (and break times), you end up with a map. A guide makes it easier to keep track of all you’ve accomplished, and alerts you as to what's on the horizon. Your schedule acts as a light, and functioning without one can often feel like aimlessly rambling around in the dark.
So, give yourself a break! You deserve it, and you’ll likely be surprised by how much your business benefits. Often times it’s the simplest things that prove the most effective. No need to spend thousands of dollars on the newest computer outfitted with the latest 'productivity software,' when a simple cup of coffee or a phone call to mom might work just as well.
At Grasshopper, we have a quiet room filled with a leather couch, beanbag chairs, a massage chair, and books, where employees can go to take a break (or a nap if needed :) ). For those who want a less laid back break, in the common area, we have a Wii and a basketball hoop where people can challenge their co-workers to a game of soccer or horse. Do you schedule breaks into your work day?