When It Is Time to Take a Break – and Regain Your Focus

home work routine
You know when you sit down to get to work on something important, and you have a hard time concentrating on what you are doing?

Yeah, me too.

Baby Brain

This past week was harder than most, in terms of focusing on my work, which is why I in the end decided to take a few days off instead of writing and posting shoddy articles.

I was visiting my best friend, and helping her look after her 5-month-old son. Even though was getting a full nights sleep, and he wasn’t my responsibility, I still noticed how much difficulty I had focusing – even if he was asleep and there were no other distractions.

I made a mistake with the headline for Wednesday’s review of To Kill a Mockingbird (at first I forgot to put a headline at all, then I accidentally wrote ‘How to Kill a Mockingbird), in the post Am I Pretty? – Or, Stop Containing Yourself in 5 Letters, I didn’t realize that ‘pretty’ actually has six letters (although in my defence, the sub-title comes directly from the spoken-word performance). When I tried to post a link to a website on my sister’s Facebook wall I accidentally posted it on my profile instead (it wasn’t a big deal, I have no problem with everyone seeing it, I just thought it was of specific interest to her).

These things made me realize that sometimes, the best thing we can do, is to just take a break, and be in the moment. I’m not suggesting you postpone working on your dreams and the things you want to achieve indefinitely, but when you know something is just temporary, the right choice might be, to just let things go for a while and focus on the here and now.

1969

Break-Time?

You might need to take a break, when you realize that:

  • You’re making a lot of ‘silly’ mistakes
  • Your mind is going in a loop
  • You start ‘zoning’ out
  • You begin to feel sleepy or restless
  • You lose focus
  • You can’t ‘think straight’

Length of Breaks

So how long a break should you take? Well that depends on your situation.

I knew I was only staying with my friend for a couple of days. I don’t get to see her too often, so I decided that the most important thing to me, at that moment, was spending time with my friend and her son. Also, I would’ve had to physically remove myself from the situation in order to increase my focus – and that might not even have worked, since I probably would’ve felt guilty about being antisocial while visiting my friend .

In this type of situation, a small ‘vacation’ of a few days might be appropriate, to make the most out of the situation you are presently in.

Generally speaking, however, we can’t take a couple of days break every time we lose our focus, so for every-day situations a shorter break anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of hours might be appropriate.

Coffee Break

Break Time

So what should you do, when you take a break?

My first suggestion is to decide beforehand, how long a break you are going to take, before you will return to your work. Otherwise it is much too easy to let one thing lead to another, and suddenly a 5 minute break has turned into a 5 hour break.

Depending on the length of your break you could:

Short Break

  • Take a couple of deep breaths, or do the breath exercises mentioned in the post on Self-Compassion.
  • A few minutes of gentle stretching.
  • Toilet break.
  • Get/make a hot or cold beverage of your choice.
  • Open the windows for a few minutes to get some fresh air.

Medium Break

  • Make a snack or a light meal.
  • Watch a favourite TV-show.
  • Read a chapter of a book.
  • Go for a walk or a run.
  • Visit one of your favourite blogs *hint hint nudge nudge*
  • Get some exercise.
  • Clean an area of the house, or do the dishes.
  • Call a friend and have a chat.

Long Break

  • Run errands
  • Go to the gym
  • Visit a friend
  • Do some other work

Of course many of the suggestions for a short break can be put together for a medium break, and similarly the suggestions for a medium break can be put together for a long break.

Questions

How do you know it is time for you to take a break?
What do you like to do in your breaks, to regain your focus?

If you have any other questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

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