Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Nearly everyone I know was looking forward to the upcoming Spring Break this year and for good reason too. I haven’t met a single person who didn’t enjoy taking well-deserved breaks from their hard work. It’s a very important part of working. It’s not usually focused on by bosses and teachers because it’s part of the off cycle. It doesn’t benefit them at all and they can’t change it, so why should they focus on it? The answer is that they shouldn’t. That’s what’s so great about breaks. They’re all about you. They allow you to focus and take a breather from what you’ve been doing so that you can come back in, refreshed, and continue your work.
Breaks are very important in the cycle of work, as no one can keep going 100% forever. We’re not robots. We get bored and tired and weary of our work eventually, even if we are passionate about our work, whether it’s being a student, teacher, or even an accountant.
I definitely needed the Spring Break that just passed. Although it may not be that way for other students or teachers, school is very stressful for me. I find myself often overwhelmed with balancing upcoming tests, homework assignments, my grades, and my extracurricular activities. I’m not complaining about the workload, as it seems very fair to me. The problem is that I get stressed when I have to manage all of these things on my plate. So, even if the individual class loads are reasonable, I get overstressed when I have to do all of them.
When I reflect on myself, I notice that I enjoy school more than most other students. It’s not a hobby for me, where I have to go to school and savor every second of it. My mindset for liking school is that I respect what it does and will do for me. Although I don’t enjoy every part of school, because of the opportunities it gives me. With my mindset, though, I still get burned out after a stressful, test filled week. To be completely honest, I couldn’t enjoy or do well at school without the weekends that allow me to mentally recoup and prepare for the next week.
The way I see it, anything you do is like what running is for me. You might really like doing whatever it is you’re doing. And you might not enjoy it all of the time. But even when you’re doing your best on a really good day, you can’t go forever. Even if I was in perfect, literally perfect, shape, I would eventually get tired on a low intensity distance run. I might make it 20 miles or I might make it 100, but I can guarantee you that I will have to stop eventually.
I know that I’m not the only one who thinks this way. I’m not speaking as a lazy student who just wants to get out of school. I’m trying to step back and analyze my and other peoples’ mannerisms from an objective lens. When I researched into this topic, I was astounding by the number of psychologists and other experts who shared the same views.
I read an article written by the Harvard Business Review that focuses on Steve
Wanner, a “highly respected 37-year-old partner at Ernst & Young, married with four young children.” He was clocking lots of hours at his job and found that he was just mentally and physically depleted. When he got home, he didn’t engage well with his family, he didn’t eat healthily, and he didn’t exercise or sleep well. His solution? Not only did he cut back on the distractions that prevented him from practicing healthy habits, like drinking wine before bed, but he also woke up earlier when it was peaceful to do his own thing, which was exercising. That does a great job of proving a point that I’ve been trying to prove. Breaks are about you, so you do what you want with them. Just because exercising might not be a break for you, Steve enjoyed it because it distracted and made him physically and mentally healthier again.
I’ve been talking about this theory of breaks making people better the whole blog, but here are some actual results. At a company called Wachovia Bank, an experiment was run were some employees were taught how to take constructive breaks and the other group wasn’t. The group that was taught ended up being happier, making more money for the company, interacted more meaningfully with their customers, and were more interested in work. That’s a lot of improvement for an introduction to better breaks.
From this blog, I hope I can showed to you, if you already didn’t know, how important breaks are. This was important to me because it appears that breaks are never at the top of the agenda when it comes to school or work. Bosses aren’t usually concerned with their employees when they’re not working. But, it shouldn’t be ignored when it can make such a difference on work output. If there are any teachers or bosses reading this, I hope that they can find a new mindset of breaks and the importance of them so that they can benefit their workers and, through the increased efficiency, themselves. Remember, it doesn’t take much.