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Taking breaks- what is best?

Posted by: Ingeborg Regeur 06/09/18

We all know that breaks within the working day are essential, but what about going on holiday? I have been on a long break- 3 weeks- myself and feel completely refreshed. What do you think, is it better to grab a handful of long weekends throughout the year, or to take a big chunk all at once?

We can separate taking breaks into two categories – daily breaks and holidays. Humans are not machines, and can all too easily face burnout if constantly working; Arianna Huffington recently wrote an open letter to Elon Musk, chastising him for working 120 hour weeks and never seeing his family and friends.

That is not the best way to work. Taking regular breaks during the work day can aid concentration, increase productivity and boost mood, even if it is just a five minute walk around the office or fifteen minutes spent doing something that is not at your desk. The Atlantic back in 2014 suggested that ‘perfect productivity’ was achieved by a 17-minute break for every 52 minutes of hard work.

At Laurence Simons, we implement the Pomodoro technique into our working day. The Pomodoro technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros. After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes. The technique is also useful for tracking how long tasks take you, so in the long run, you can plan your day more efficiently.

Breaks within the working day are essential, but what about going on holiday? Is it better to grab a handful of long weekends throughout the year, or to take a big chunk all at once?

This year, I chose to take 3 weeks. I found this is the best way to relax and when I return to work, I feel refreshed and refocused. While this way of taking holiday may work for me, others may find they would rather take a few shorter breaks throughout the year - and that is completely fine, because only you can determine how you rejuvenate best.

Do not berate yourself if you occasionally check emails. Obviously, your holiday is designed to be time away from the stress of emails and no one expects a speedy reply when your Out of Office is on. However, if you feel you will be worrying about the piling workload while you’re away, a glance over your tasks is nothing to be ashamed of. Just make sure you do not feel inclined to begin those tasks to get a “head-start”.

In terms of what employers think about holidays – ask! Have a conversation with the person in charge to find out what you are entitled to and then see if you can reach a conclusion where both parties feel happy. Perhaps a very long holiday every year may be out of the question, but if you can put forward the case as to why your holidays should be structured in the way you wish, the majority of employers will be happy to talk it through.

If you would like to discuss your next ideal career move, email me at Ingeborg.Regeur@laurencesimons.com or look on our website.

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