photo of coffee cup & a notebook

How I work: Coffee Breaks Chaos

This is a challenging month. I’m out of the office seven days over the span of four weeks for the Jewish holidays. My inbox swells to well over 900.

After years of trial and error, I’ve found a way to keep my head above the chaos and hopefully not fall behind. For instance, the rest of this week is a full schedule of deadlines and conference calls.

What was the first thing I did after getting ready for work this morning? I took myself out for coffee and left the laptop at home. My phone stayed in my bag. I didn’t check email. After reading for a half hour, I found I really wanted to fill in my content calendar for the next few weeks. So I did. Sometimes I spend the entire time reading. Often I sort out how to solve a client problem and sketch the outline.

I know, it sounds counterintuitive, so please bear with me.

More so during this time than most others throughout the year, I am trying to have it all — work professionally, keep things humming along in harmony at home, create special meals for the festivities, and take time to stop and reflect for myself about the holidays. That’s a tall order.

By taking a special break in the morning before I start my day, I have a chance to recharge and direct my focus on my own terms.

Why breaks?

It’s very tempting to sit at my desk and attempt to work the same number of hours as a regular week, despite less available time. When I was in my early twenties, I tried this. The result was that my health suffered terribly.

Going out for coffee, adding a section to my trail run, they are special treats. The mental shift for something special and enjoyable carries over to the rest of my day. It’s known that breaks and movement are beneficial. That’s why there is a proliferation of activity trackers that remind the wearer to move throughout the day.

How is time drinking coffee part of the sit less, move more agenda? In general, I only stay for an hour. That means I do actually get up and move instead of sitting all day.

I don’t feel guilty when I return from my mini break. I’ve allowed my brain much time to relax, not stress, and have some fun (with bonus caffeine). It’s then primed to focus and get to work.

Yes, there is a possibility that too many or too long a break could turn into procrastination. On my way home this morning, I thought about running a long list of errands because I was already out. Today I didn’t, though an unseasonably warm yet beautiful sunny day was a strong temptation.

But aren’t those holidays?

Yes. I am out of the office quite a bit during this time. However I need to work to make sure everything for home and holiday works out. It’s not as truly restful as one wishes.

photo of coffee cup & a notebook

Additional Resources about Restful Breaks