On breaks, not breaking

It was never my intention to take a break of nearly three weeks from writing here, but it appears that is what I have done. And although I never made a formal commitment to myself (or you) to write according to any particular schedule, I caught myself getting increasingly bothered by the fact that I wasn’t writing. Until yesterday.

I was catching up on some reading at work yesterday, and I came by chance upon two articles. Each article by itself was mildly interesting, but the juxtaposition of the two was what really fascinated me.

The first article was all about things employers can do to “remove distractions” in the workplace, and was full of what I presumed were supposed to be outrageous examples of the things employees do at work that are “unproductive.” Things like looking at Facebook, or (horror of horrors) talking to their co-workers. In one instance (and we were, I presume, supposed to be shocked by this) a group of employees had brought a pet bird into the workplace and were “wasting time” caring for it.

The second article was about mental health and reducing work place stress. One of the key strategies this article identified for having a healthy work life was, of course, taking regular breaks.

The contradiction between these two articles is nothing new. If you scan all the articles relating to human resource issues in the workplace in any given week, I predict there will always be at least one article on time wasting, and at least one article on the importance of taking breaks.

I am irked by the subtle classist undertone that that I perceive when I read these articles. Typically it is the high paying, overstressed manager/professional who is being urged to take breaks, while at the same time it is the rank-and-file employees having their access to the internet curtailed so they won’t waste company time taking the occasional five minute respite from their duties. As though somehow our differing levels of authority mean that our brains and bodies work differently. As though some of us need breaks more than others. As though some of us should have more rights than others to take those breaks in the time and manner that is most healthy for us.

People work most efficiently and effectively when they take breaks. Period. We need to take breaks, even from the things we love. I have never understood the people who don’t take all of the holiday time to which they are entitled. (Whenever people complain to me that they don’t know when they can possibly use all their vacation days, I suggest they donate their unused vacation days to me. There is, apparently, some sort of HR policy that prevents them from taking me up on this generous offer. But hey, it can’t hurt to try!)

So yeah, I took a break. And it won’t be the last. Because when it comes right down to it, breaks are what keep us from breaking.

 

 

 

 

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About Muddy River Muse

Writer. Reader Educator. Manager. Mother. Dreamer. And dedicated riverbank walker.
This entry was posted in Health Matters, Live simply and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to On breaks, not breaking

  1. gloriad54 says:

    “Breaks are what keep us from breaking” — I love this. Excellent. And ‘breaks’ from people, too, as in ‘give me a break’, the benefit of the doubt, encouragement rather than judgement. Great post!

  2. JoAnne says:

    Welcome back Anna! I enjoyed this piece. I also took a long break this summer before starting my new job. It was well worth it!

  3. alienorajt says:

    Well said, Anna, and welcome back. Your final sentence says it all, in my view. We do feel, often, that we should keep going no matter what – and yet, taken to extremes, that gung ho attitude is neither use nor ornament as we crack up, fall apart and are unable then to carry on.
    Great post.
    xxx

  4. Elyse says:

    I used to feel guilty when I’d check fun stuff on the internet in short bursts throughout the day until, in the midst of a huge time crunch, I walked in on my boss playing computer solitaire. “Small breaks are therapeutic and help me get my work done,” she said. I stopped feeling guilty. (Then again, I am expected to finish my tasks regardless of how long it takes!)

  5. Do take beaks, Anna, we are not machines.
    At one level w are all equal – whether a big boss or a lowly worker — all are workers after all!

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