I’m sure a lot of us think we are hard workers on the job. We also tend to feel guilty about taking our breaks at work, to the point that we might eat at our desks and never leave the workplace. So, is that a good idea? You might think you’re showing your Superman or Supergirl powers at work, but truly, you are doing yourself, your boss, and your customers a disservice.
Here’s why not taking breaks through out the day at work is a bad idea. When you work out at the gym, or play sports, or move your whole household in one day, or work in the yard, don’t you allow yourself a break once in a while? Why? To recharge, of course. Recharge your body, right? Your brain needs recharging too.
RECHARGE: verb; to make a new charge, especially to attack again. To revive or restore energy, stamina, enthusiasm. To refresh and revitalize.
I need my energy restored throughout the day, both physically and mentally. I’ve worked in both types of cultures, where every one takes their breaks, or no one takes breaks. As a supervisor myself, I make sure my immediate reports take their breaks. I’ve seen it too many times when a person plays tough and refuses to take breaks or lunch, then comes back and sues the company. Worse, the work culture frowns upon breaks, so a person feels like they shouldn’t take breaks. Yes, legality is part of it. The real part though, is that I want my employees to come back refreshed and revitalized. (hopefully) Happy employees usually mean happy customers.
I do not agree with workplace cultures where the unspoken rule is not to take breaks. It encourages judgement and gossip against coworkers. In the reverse, taking breaks together when possible can build teamwork and comradeship. Eating at your desk encourages your boss or direct reports to interrupt. Of course, there are sometimes certain circumstances where you might have to push back your breaks or lunch to take care of a crisis.
Not sure what to do during a break? Here’s what I do sometimes. Read a book. Get to know a coworker better. Play a game on my phone. Read the news. Come up with blog ideas. Stretch. Take a short walk outside. Eat a snack to feed my body. Meditate. Practice mindfulness. Check on my kids. Check on my mom. You get the point. The important thing is to take a real timeout from work. I can attest that when I come back from lunch, I’m ready, recharged and revitalized to face the second half of my work day!