– Utilise calendars or reminders to form habits;
– I book swimming and walking sessions in my calendar;
– You are more likely to stick to your calendar without excuses.
I found it hard to bring myself out of work for a 15-min morning tea, although I knew it helped me. Why?
There are many reasons. For me, I struggled because I needed that time to finish my work. I was thinking about the ‘trade off’ between enjoying a 15-min morning tea and having that 15 minutes to do more works (so I could finish my tasks early). Most people will compromise because they know they need both. What most people will do is to make a cup of tea/coffee and then return to work while having a morning tea.
I did the same before and I was just an ordinary person. Over time, I found that this ‘morning tea’ was not fun and not enjoyable at all. I was lying to myself.
First, I didn’t rest at all during my morning tea break (because I was working). Second, I often got myself into work so much that I didn’t really taste my tea or coffee. Third, my productivity didn’t improve as I observed myself. I might have won that 15 minutes because I was multi-tasking. In fact, I extended my working time and used my morning tea break to work. I didn’t have time to rest and I thought I enjoyed both my morning tea and done more works.
I was wrong.
Research has proved that multi-tasking was not as effective as people thought. However, under the pressure to be more productive, modern employees use multi-taking as a ‘means’ to improve productivity. In fact, most of us are lying to ourselves. We neither improve our productivity (because we didn’t have time to rest), nor we have proper breaks to improve our productivity. We lost both.
So now, I book myself a walking session, a morning/afternoon break, or a swimming session during my working weeks. There are many good things about booking yourself a break in your calendar. First, when something is on your calendar, you tend to follow it (as research shows so). Second, you just give yourself a block of time to do something ‘important’ for your life and you are less likely to find an excuse to skip it. How many times have you planned to go to a gym and then you found yourself an excuse to not going? ^_< A lot, I believe (because I was like that!).
My calendar is quite crowded but I have the luxury (the best thing of being a Professor in a university!) to determine what items should appear in my calendar except teaching times. This means that I could book myself a break and treat it as important as a meeting with my research funding partners. By doing this, I’m more likely to take a proper break and get back to work with a fresh mind. I also boost my productivity because I’m happier and relaxed.
If you don’t have the luxury to control your calendar (see my blog- Fix my busy life please), then you can still try to block out some break times and try not to remove them as much as you can. There are a million excuses to cancel these break time appointments with yourself, but don’t do it. Give yourself a break, so you can do your job better and be happier. That’s what life is all about.
Dr. C. Richard Wu @ REEAConsulting.com