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Years ago, a speaker at a Leadership seminar I attended said that a 10-minute break every hour is optimal for peak performance. To a  workaholic like me, I couldn’t help but wonder how this could be a good thing…How is taking a break every hour productive? It seems so counterintuitive! Of course, at that time, I also did not take extended vacations and usually had some days off left at the end of the year. To me, there was always something to be done. Does that sound familiar to you?

You may recall that I always set a personal goal at the beginning of the year. A few years ago, my goal was to get away for at least a weekend each month. I often tied the trip to a conference, which worked out well. I still worked, never missing a beat with our clients, consultants, and staff. I returned refreshed, but still felt I had accomplished something. I continued this practice the following year without intentionally setting the goal. It had started to become a habit. I worked during these breaks, even on weekends. I am still a workaholic, but the change of scenery was the break I needed to recharge.

By the third year these planned and sometimes unplanned getaways stopped – my circumstances changed – putting a stop to the practice and my breaks. Boy was I cranky that year! After reflecting on these breaks, I realized I needed the time away and a change of environment to help me think differently and gain a fresh perspective. Without the break, I was not pleasant to be around and my ideas didn’t come as quickly as they did before. Turns out, that break was more important to me than I realized.

A weekend away, albeit one where I’m still working, recharges me. If you missed seeing my FFfT last week it wasn’t a problem with your Wifi (?). I took an intentional break from the blog and a few other things to refresh. Although experts say a 10 -minute break every hour is optimal, I think each person has to define their own optimal. I take a break when I need it — I walk away, do something different, and come back with a different perspective. Last week, I took a break from the blog for a variety of reasons. I was sick, so I felt tired and stressed because I could not accomplish what I needed to. This in turn, made me feel worse. See the downward spiral?!

So, I took a break. Once I felt better, I went away for a few days to recharge. Now I am back, better than ever, and feeling refreshed with new ideas. I even formed new friendships during my break and overall, I am better for it.

So, a break – whatever that may mean for you – can increase your productivity and improve your outlook. I highly recommend it!

“Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.” – Unknown

What do you do on your break?

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