So, you’re working from home and you’ve just spent the last 10 minutes looking at anything but your computer screen, finding ways to distract yourself. Not only is this completely unproductive, it doesn’t even feel like a screen break – and certainly won’t give you the same benefits of taking an actual break. ‘Surely there’s got to be a better alternative!’ I hear you say – and there is!
If you’re working from home, it can hard to know what to do with yourself when it comes to breaks. We recommend getting yourself off your computer for a while and doing something completely different to take your mind off your work and allow you to return to your desk with a fresh mindset and approach to your work. Here are our top suggestions to help you think outside the box!
Do Some Life AdminRemember when you were working from the office and all you could think was, ‘there aren’t enough hours in the day’? You get home from work and it’s too late to call anyone to sort important things out?
Since you’re at home, you’ve got access to your letters, and you’ve got plenty of time in your breaks to complete a little of what I call life admin.
This is all the little odd jobs you might have, like sorting out insurance or arranging hospital appointments or arranging to go and see the dentist – things that require you to call or book something within working hours.
Not exactly the most exciting thing in the world, but definitely one of the most productive ways to spend your break!
Prep Lunch and SnacksWhen you’re at work, the fairly prepared of you will probably make lunch the night before, giving you the full 30 or 60 minutes of your lunch break to chow down and socialise.
When working at home, however, this is not something we tend to do. I like to use my morning break to prep any food I’m going to eat for the rest of the day, like chopping up some fruit and veg to snack on, maybe cooking some rice or pasta or making a salad. That then gives me my full half an hour break to relax and enjoy my food – and I’m less inclined to reach for convenient, but not as healthy snacks like crisps and biscuits.
Get Some Fresh AirWhen you’ve been sat at your home desk (or dining room table if you’re me and you’re not properly set up), it’s easy to get a little bit of cabin fever. My blogs start to get a little weird (start to? Maybe they always are…) and I can feel my eyes lingering longingly at the window.
Going out for a walk or jog, or even just to sit and read in the garden for 15 minutes can be enough to make you feel revitalised and ready to crack on with your job again.
In fact, research shows that spending time in fresh air increases energy in 90% of people. So the next time you start to feel cooped up, get your shoes on and go and enjoy the great outdoors, at least for a little bit!
MeditateIs it all just getting a bit much? Here at instantprint, we have a massive focus on our colleagues’ wellbeing and mental health. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to take a five-minute break just to clear your headspace, and there’s nothing quite like meditation for doing just that.
If you’re new to mindfulness meditation, this 14-minute guided desk meditation exercise from Mindful.org is a great place to start!
Call Your Friends and FamilyIf you’re at a loose end on one of your breaks, why not use this opportunity to reconnect with a friend or family member over a quick phone call?
This will not only do you some good, but your friends and family who you might not have spoken to for a while will definitely appreciate it, especially if they’re also stuck inside.
Just think about how you’d feel if someone thought about calling you just to see how you were!
Fuss Over Your PetIf you don’t usually work from home but have recently started, one thing you’ll have definitely noticed if you have pets is how much attention they want when you’re around – seriously, what do they even get up to when we’re not there?
From jumping up to check out what you’re doing on the computer to scratching at the furniture to get attention (I’m definitely talking from experience here), your pets are probably desperately seeking some attention from you.
So why not use your breaks to give them that attention? You never know, it might satisfy their cravings to be fussed over and stop them from distracting you for at least another five minutes!
Read Inspiring StoriesMaybe your reason for needing a break is lack of inspiration. I know there’s nothing quite like reading someone else’s inspiring story to kickstart a little fire under me!
If you’ve got a spare ten or fifteen minutes, watching these popular TED talks is a great way to spend them. With topics ranging from creativity to happiness, there’s sure to be a talk that appeals to you.
Do NothingSometimes the only thing that’ll make you feel truly rested is to just do nothing. Maybe sit with your eyes closed and try to rid yourself of all thoughts. If you are struggling with this, again meditation might be a better option for you – just scroll back up to number 4 on this list!
Practice YogaIf you’re not already a practiced yogi, yoga is probably one of those things you’ve always said you’d like to try but never actually gotten around to it. Although a lot of modern offices have yoga breaks, it’s not always something you necessarily want to do in front of your co-workers – downward dog in front of the boss? No thanks!
Working from the comforts of your own home gives you the perfect opportunity to try out some of the moves for yourself and it’s always a good idea to stretch out some of your muscles when you’ve been hunched over your desk all day.
There are lots of free yoga classes on YouTube for all different levels of ability, so there’s no excuse not to give this one a go!
Pick A New Desktop BackgroundIf you’ve not really got time for a long break, but need to do something to break up your morning or afternoon, why not search for a new desktop background for your computer?
Lots of people like to use pictures of destinations they’d like to visit, or pictures of their pets. I quite like using inspirational or funny quotes that put a smile on my face whenever I load up my computer – just keep it professional!
Spruce Yourself UpWhen was the last time you shaved your beard? Or plucked your eyebrows? Or even just brushed your hair for that matter? Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to neglect your appearance.
Not only can sprucing yourself up during your breaks make you feel more confident and productive, but it also means that you’re ready to go out straight from work!
This is also a good idea if you’ve got video calls throughout the day. Sat at your desk on your own all day, you wouldn’t normally check out your appearance very often (not judging if you do!), so neatening up is a good task to do before any kind of virtual meeting.
Go On a Coffee Run for OneGoing on a coffee run in the office feel very much worth it since you’re doing something for all of your colleagues – but there’s nothing wrong with using your breaks to do something just for you. Nipping out to the local café is a great way to clear your mind – and if it’s in walking distance, even better because you’ll get the added benefit of a bit of fresh air.
If you’re not near any coffee shops or don’t have time to leave your house to get a hot beverage, take some time to make your own tea or coffee at home!
Update Your Online PasswordsWhat’s more productive than this? It’s best practice to change your passwords every so often, and if you do them all at once, it shouldn’t realistically take much longer than one or two of your work breaks to get them all switched up!
Try Brain Training ActivitiesIf you don’t like the idea of switching off completely when you go on a work break, brain training activities are a great way to keep your thinking cap on – your focus just switches to the new task at hand, which in itself is refreshing.
In fact, some people find that they can’t switch off unless they’re doing a task that involves a little brain power to distract them.
Crossword puzzles, sudoku, and even colouring by numbers are all different ways you can keep busy on your breaks if you’re the kind of person who needs to be on constantly.
Tidy Up Around the HouseA messy working environment is not a productive working environment. Not only can the mess distract you as you’ll be thinking about cleaning it up, but it can actually reduce the amount of work you do.
According to a study by the National Association of Professional Organisers, cluttered workspaces can lead to a company’s financial loss equivalent to 10% of a manager’s salary. For your productivity alone, use your breaks to declutter the area directly around your desk.
It’s also a great time to keep on top of housework – put the laundry in, go and get the lawnmower out! It just means you won’t have to do it after you’ve finished work!
We hope we’ve given you some food for thought there on different ways to use your breaks when working from home. If you think you’ve got an innovative break time idea, we’d love to hear it! Tweet us at @instantprintuk.