So you made it to lunch and your tummy's content, but those five or so hours left can sometimes seem like there's just no light at the end of the tunnel and no way to break up the work day. No matter how much you may love your job or what hours you work, a full day of work could always use a little more fun to break up those hours of mental and physical exertion. In fact, it should be required.
CheatSheet cited a study from the journal Cognition, which found that brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus on that task for a longer period of time. Not only that, but it found that by doing the same task for a prolonged period of time, we tend to lose our focus and ability to perform the task well.
Whether you're in the constraints of a more traditionally structured work day at an office, or your working parameters are a little more flexible, there are creative little breaks you can implement to really amp those productivity levels - and not drive yourself totally insane. Try some of these seven easy ways to make work more fun and not seem as long.
1. Go For A Stroll
Explore more of your building, make a kitchen pit stop, or go outside for some fresh air. Wherever you go, you need to take some time away from your desk. Cosmopolitan's special projects director, Laura Brounstein, told Business Insider that taking a few minutes to get out of your chair clears your mind and makes you more ready for the next task, while also boosting creativity. Make a little lunchtime adventure out of it by escaping to a favorite spot like a bookshop, art gallery, or anywhere in the outdoors.
2. Try Some Guided Meditation
You don't have to roll out the yoga mats or anything, but you should definitely give that hard working brain a nice little zen treatment. Seriously, a quick five to ten minute meditation break can do wonders for you. As Business Insider pointed out, meditation can help you deal with stress and negative emotions, boost positive skills like memory and awareness, get along with others, and it doesn't take long to start seeing these positive results take effect. There are numerous videos or great meditation apps for beginners or busy people, like the Calm meditation app Lifehacker suggested. All you need is a pair of headphones and an open mind ready to be refreshed. Namaste, my fellow professionals.
3. Create A Tradition With Your Co-Workers
Brounstein also suggested creating "happiness-boosting traditions" to feel happier at work. Whether it's Taco Tuesdays, 2 p.m. rapid fire trivia, or a rotating schedule of bringing in treats for a nice little conference call picnic, this is a great way to bond with your colleagues while breaking up the day together. OK, so if you work from home or don't exactly work with a team in which this would be possible, you can still set these traditions on your own. Give yourself something to look forward to at different points of the day or different days of the week.
4. Do Something Creative At Different Points Of The Day
If that rigid, churn-out-all-the-work-you-can timeframe has you feeling like you're in a box, sprinkle a little glitter on said box and see what happens. There's always room for creativity during the day and in fact, this is the best kind of fuel to keep you going. You should definitely check out the book The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week for some brilliant ideas on how to do this. Things like choosing an object each day to take a picture of and make a little project out of it, or collecting doodles from Post-Its and notebooks and assembling them in a sketchbook, or even getting up an hour earlier or staying an hour later to devote some time to the creative work that makes you happy are all great ways to keep that creative spirit alive without jeopardizing your work. Even if you already work in a creative field, sometimes taking a step away from what's defined as your professional work to something else can really give your brain a breather.
5. Use Downtime To Learn Something
Use your free moments to research something you've always been curious about. Pop open a book and bury yourself in it. Maybe start some online learning tutorials to help you develop or learn anything from a new skill to a new language! Learning is limitless so use that to your advantage. And of course — the key word here is downtime. Make sure you're not actually taking away from time you should be doing work.
6. Leave Notes For Your Co-Workers
Take on the role of the office fairy and leave random notes on a chosen co-worker's desk to make things a little more fun. Make someone's day with anything from a personalized, uplifting message to remind them they're special, something funny to get a good chuckle, or drop some epic knowledge with a random fact of the day.
An alternative if you don't work with many people/work from home: Send a message to someone you know who you haven't spoken to in a while. It's a nice way to take a little break from the grind and remind yourself to stay connected and in tune with your life outside of work.
7. Deck Out Your Cubicle
And of course, you can always tap into some of those trusty decorating hacks for your desk to make work more fun and your space just more enjoyable overall. Being in a creative space in which you feel comfortable and happy can help alleviate the drudgery and frustration of any task — no matter how tedious or mentally draining. Because when you're crunching numbers, deep sea diving into research, or in the barren wasteland of writer's block, all you have to do is look up at the photo of the pug tacked onto your wall and things will get just a little bit better.
Work can be hard, draining, and a little bit monotonous to say the least, so it's worth experimenting with taking breaks to hit the recharge button and conquer the day.
Images: Pexels (2); Giphy (5)