I’m not sure if all the noise around the holiday “madness” everyone is talking about is getting to me, but I felt a strong need to write this article right now. I’m a true rebel, so whenever all I hear is “I’m so busy!” or “Gear up for the crazy stressful holidays!”, my inclination is to go against the grain and get more settled. Any madness that comes from this time of year is only as big as you let your mind make it. With a balanced approach to work, there’s no reason getting things done should work you into a frenzy.
I wrote a popular article recently detailing my week of experimenting with the 52:17 Method I constructed from studies that showed workers are most productive at this ratio. That’s 52 minutes of work and 17 minute breaks, rinse and repeat. I was surprised by the results in the end and have made it my standard way of working every day. I would suggest reading the original article to get a breakdown of how to use it yourself.
What to do with the 17 minutes? Get away from whatever you are doing. I know this post is titled Step Away From Your Desk, but desk is a metaphor for any work space be it drafting table, kitchen or sketchbook.
This article is meant to give more detailed suggestions on how to spend your breaks to make sure you come back to your “desk” fully refreshed.
Move your body
When you spend too much time focused on your work, you are actually zapping your mental energy as well as doing your body a disservice.
And about that body, your work will benefit from you moving it a few times a day. I know as creatives this may not come easy to all of us. It certainly didn’t for me. I loathed anything described as cardio and stuck to yoga, pilates and walking to work as my only exercise for years. What I noticed though when I started sitting all day, was that my mind would turn to jelly if I hadn’t moved for awhile. So I started implementing some easy cardio and strength training during some of my breaks. Ya know what? The old adage move your body, move your mind, is fully correct. I find now that I’m more alert and productive all throughout the day when I sprinkle it with some exercise.
The old adage move your body, move your mind, is fully correct.
The easiest way to do this is by going to workoutlabs.com. They produce these awesome high-quality card decks you can mix and match to create an endless amount of workouts. I typically pick 3 cards at random and do those during my break. You can also print out the 7 Minute Scientific Sequence for free.
Stretch your wrists
I can’t stress this enough (pun intended!). Your wrists are the most valuable asset you have whether you are a craftsman, work at a computer, or do anything that involves bringing ideas to fruition. Taking care of them regularly will ensure you don’t develop debilitating ailments like carpal tunnel syndrome. You can go to YouTube and search “yoga for wrists” and get a ton of helpful videos. Here’s a couple of my favorites.
Do a lot of nothing in the sun
Sunlight has so many benefits for us mentally and physically, there’s no way I could name them all here. MindBodyGreen did a good job though, if you are interested. Double the points if you meditate in the sun. I understand it’s not that easy to close your eyes and just listen if you work in an urban environment or with lots of people around. I get help from an app like Headspace or Stop, Breathe & Think. Put your ear buds in, take a walk in the sun and remember to be present. Let your mind wander. I get my best ideas during this time when I would have never had the same thoughts if I was buried in a project.
This list is in no way complete, but these are some of the most important activities you can do to stay balanced through any stressful time of year. Your work will benefit as well because you won’t be drained and mentally fried from pushing your self to the limit. Give it a try!
Have some of your own methonds for keeping balanced through the holiday “madness”? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!