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Published on March 12, 2021

Why You Need To Take A Break From Work For Good Productivity

Why You Need To Take A Break From Work For Good Productivity

Yesterday was one of those days. I sat at my laptop screen with a to-do list the size of a small country and I just typed. I typed for two or three hours and by the time I was done with all the typing, I had made literally no progress.

Between second-guessing myself, deciding I didn’t like what I’d done, changing my mind, and just losing focus, I essentially wasted a good couple of hours sitting at a computer and “working” but actually getting no work done.

I got up, turned the computer off, and went for a walk. It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Walking away when you’ve got a long list of deadlines and time won’t do you the courtesy of just slowing down while you get back in the game. But I needed it. Then I came back to my computer a couple of hours later and ticked the two highest priority items off that list in less time than I’d spent to achieve nothing earlier on in the day.

Taking a break is about so much more than a coffee and a chat. It’s not a luxury. It’s an absolute necessity! So, let’s ditch the guilty feelings of taking a break from work, and let’s stop snacking at our desks for 5 minutes instead of actually taking lunch. It will help us work better, be better employees or entrepreneurs, and possibly even live longer.

Here’s why you need to take a break from work for good productivity.

1. Humans Cannot Function Productively for Hours on End

Humans can’t function productively for hours on end, despite what your employment contract says.

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Do you care to guess how many hours a day you’re productive for? Is it 6? 7? All 8 of the main working day hours? Probably not. Studies suggest you’re productive for 2 or 3 hours at best.[1]

So, what are you doing for the rest of the time you’re sitting at your screen? You’re working significantly less productively, which is no better for you than it is for your boss.

I’m not saying we all need to move to a 3-hour working day with immediate effect. Let’s be practical about it. But accepting that after a couple of very productive hours, you need a break before you can come back and do that again is a good start.

2. Regular Breaks Are Good for Your Memory

Scientific research points to the fact that regular short breaks can improve your memory.[2] Better memory means you can whizz through tasks faster and more effectively. But a break, the study found, also helps you to retain recently acquired information.

So, if you’re doing the research for a report or you’re in a meeting for a couple of hours, actually walking away afterward and taking that coffee break can help you better retain the facts, figures, or information you just got.

Could this be one of the reasons why the Pomodoro Technique can be so effective for so many? Regular breaks in that technique could mean you’re actually processing all the information you’re getting from your work properly and taking that forward into the next task.

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3. A Break Enhances Your Energy Levels

Research in 2016 confirmed what I imagine many of us suspected. If you take a break, your energy levels will improve.[3]

There’s no productivity killer quite as lethal as lethargy. And I personally suffer from the dreaded “afternoon slump” a lot. If you’re tired, you won’t concentrate as well and you will not get as much done. It’s that simple. The research suggests that taking a break at lunchtime (an actual break, not 5 minutes browsing Facebook at your desk with a sandwich) boosts energy levels, thus improving your focus into the afternoon.

I know there are workplaces where the culture is very much lunch-at-desks. But if you feel the need to justify taking your full lunch break, then consider this it. Science says you’ll get more done in the afternoon.

4. You’ll Make Better Decisions After a Break

Decision-making—whether these decisions seem like minor or major ones—is an important part of our daily work. A group of researchers found that failing to take breaks leads to decision fatigue.[4]

Now, the decisions being made by the subjects of their study really were life-altering too. The study followed a group of judges who were ruling on whether to grant people parole. The study found they were much likelier not to grant parole to someone had they not had breaks. The scientists put this down to the judges (consciously or otherwise) making the easier decision on occasions where they hadn’t taken breaks and were therefore not rested.

I personally don’t have to make decisions that affect people’s lives like that (thankfully). But I’ve definitely experienced myself that when I’m feeling like I’m overdue a break, I am likelier to take the easy road even if it’s not the best one. So, switch the screen off, get away from your desk, grab a bite, and get some fresh air. Your decision-making will thank you for it.

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5. Breaks Improve Your Creativity

Whether you’re a writer, a lawyer, a marketer, or something else entirely, some degree of creativity is probably a requirement in your role. From creative problem solving to slogan writing, your imagination and creativity can play a huge role in the quality of your work.

I’ve often found my creative breakthroughs coming at the least convenient times (maybe I should start taking a notebook in the shower and to bed). My “aha!” moments, inconveniently, never really happen when I’m in a brainstorming session or when I’m in a call with a client or sitting at my screenwriting strategy and planning documents. Oh no, that would be too easy.

In fact most of my creative ideas, I’ve found, happen on walks or when I’m relaxing at home. Turns out, I’m not at all unique in that. A study found that creativity was improved by walking (as opposed to sitting).[5]

So, instead of sitting staring at your screen (and, if you’re anything like me, getting more frustrated by the minute) just walk away—literally. Get outside and just walk. Even if you don’t have the “aha!” moment you’re looking for, you’re probably going to be likelier to stumble upon a creative breakthrough later for having taken the break.

6. Breaks Are Good for Your Health

A healthier you is a more productive you. There’s nothing quite like a health crisis to knock your productivity, after all.

Breaks aren’t only a necessity for your mental health but your physical health, too. This is particularly notable for office workers and those of us who sit at desks and screens for vast quantities of the day. Back problems, cardiovascular problems, and weight gain, or even obesity are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the damage experts believe that prolonged sitting can do.

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So, not only is taking a break great for your energy levels, it’s imperative for your physical health. Stand up, move, and walk. If you can’t get out for a long walk, just take a 15-minute stroll around the block. It’s good for you in so many different ways.

Our physical and mental health is intrinsically linked to how well we perform at work. So, don’t feel guilty for prioritizing your health. It’s good for your work in the long term, too.

Tips for Fitting Breaks in

I’m self-employed with the flexibility to work hours to suit me, my family, and our schedules. I also know that I am far more productive in the mornings than in the afternoons, so I take my breaks in the afternoon very often.

I’m also fortunate that our office is very close to a stunning reservoir with jaw-droppingly beautiful walks. So, I often take some time out in the afternoon to talk or run there and invariably find that it leaves me feeling far more equipped to deal with the rest of the day.

But I also know that not everybody is in that position. So, if you find you’re working for someone else and you’re working set office hours, perhaps without much space for getting out for walks, here are a few tips for getting your breaks in:

  1. Eat your lunch away from your desk wherever possible. Stand up if you can (standing desks, breakfast bars, and so forth are helpful here). Making lunch a set time each day that you actually take a break is a simple way to make that time within the allowances of a pre-set working day
  2. Walk before work. Even if you just park a mile further from your office or get off your transport a stop or two earlier, you buy yourself a precious few moments to walk, decompress, and just relax while getting in some physical activity. When I was working for someone else a few years ago, I found this a life-changing habit and it was such a small change. I arrived at work feeling refreshed and ready.
  3. Switch off at home. The nature of the ever-connected society we live in is that we are plugged into our work constantly. But try to take time out—completely out. When you’re not at work and you can take the time out, capitalize. I also know that some workplaces have a toxic culture of expecting prolonged hours, evening work, and dragging staff onto projects over the weekend. If you’re in the position to push back, please do. No job is worth having no life outside of the office.
  4. Try to lead from the front and build a culture of smart working. If you’re a leader, then encourage your team to work smarter—encouraging breaks to improve productivity and allowing people to experiment with other productivity techniques like Pomodoro.
  5. If you’re not in management, then perhaps speak to management and sell the business benefits of a smarter working culture. It’s a simple business case to make when you can prove productivity increases and more gets done in a day if people take a full lunch break for example. See if you can get them on board.

A Necessity, Not a Luxury

Over the years, I’ve come to regard breaks as an absolute necessity if I want to work smarter and continue to deliver my best work. It’s a mindset shift from ten years ago when I regarded them as a self-indulgent luxury I needed to live without.

If you’ve been denying yourself breaks, then maybe start fitting one in each day and seeing what difference it makes to you and your work. I don’t imagine you’ll be disappointed. Now, please do excuse me. I’m off for a walk.

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Featured photo credit: Christin Hume via unsplash.com

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Stacey MacNaught

Small business owner, public speaker and marketing expert obsessed with working smarter.

Why You Need To Take A Break From Work For Good Productivity How To Motivate Yourself When You Are Overwhelmed in Life How to Focus on Goals and Get Rid of Distractions

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Published on April 5, 2021

9 Best Energy Supplements To Fight Fatigue And Tiredness

9 Best Energy Supplements To Fight Fatigue And Tiredness

When it comes to energy levels, the solution is relatively simple. Make sure you get ample sleep, exercise regularly, and have a well-balanced diet. But as much as those things are simple, performing them on a regular basis can be difficult.

Worse, you could be doing these and still find energy levels draining quickly.

Fortunately, there are several options out there to help you with pushing back fatigue and tiredness. Most of these solutions stem from supplements. These little pills pack all kinds of helpful nutrients to get you through the day. Below we’ve selected some of the best energy supplements available.

Before getting to the list, here are some of the criteria that we used to determine what are the best options to offer you:

  • No fillers – One of the big issues with supplements is that they contain needless fillers in them that provide you with no benefit. We’ve checked many of these products to ensure they are from natural and pure sources and that these companies don’t put in fillers.
  • Improve mental functions – Fatigue isn’t just a physical thing, it’s mental too. The supplements we recommend help you in overcoming both sides of fatigue.
  • Metabolic benefits – These supplements are known to help burn energy stored in fat while preserving energy in your muscles.
  • Energized without the side effects – When people think of energy, they also keep in mind the downsides like crashing, jittering, irritability. These are known side effects for energy boosters, but they’re not part of these supplements.

Now let’s dive into the 9 best energy supplements for fatigue.

1. Fish Oil

One of the best energy supplements on the market is fish oil. Fish oil supplements are able to provide a wide variety of benefits to individuals. It’s essentially the supplement to be using if you’re looking to improve brain or heart function or both.

We recommend Infuel Fish Oil as they make a perfect blend of fish oil and Omega 3 healthy fats which directly support development of our brains, eyes, nervous system and maintaining a healthy heart. All of these feeds into our energy levels because these supplements provide us with essential fats that our body can use. Furthermore, stronger brain development is an invaluable tool to fighting off fatigue.

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2. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is one of the most important medicinal herbs in the Indian Ayurveda and it’s one of the world’s oldest medicinal systems. Over the years of its study, researchers have been able to uncover that Ashwagandha is able to increase our body’s resilience to both physical and mental stress.[1]

Because stress is one of those aspects that drains our energy levels physically and mentally, it stands to reason that having supplements of this nature can provide us with more energy. Beyond that, there is also research that suggests we can alleviate fatigue associated to exercise with this too.

NaturaLife Labs supplement of Ashwagandha comes to mind as a reliable source. It’s organic, vegan, and gluten free. Each capsule provides 2,100 mg with nothing but ashwagandha root powder and extract, making it highly potent compared to other brands.

3. Rhodiola Rosea

Another notable herb grounded into supplement form is rhodiola rosea. It grows in cold, mountainous regions and is used as a natural substance to enhance our coping abilities with stress.

From that research, there have also been a small collection of studies that looked into the physical and mental fatigue aspect too. Out of the vast majority of those studies, there was evidence of rhodiola rosea enhancing both physical performance and easing mental fatigue.[2]

Out of the various brands that provide this supplement, Bronson’s Rhodiola Rosea is a great fit. It’s gluten and soy-free and provides 1000 mg of 100% natural rhodiola rosea. These are also safe for vegans and vegetarians alike.

4. CoQ10

CoQ10 stands for coenzyme Q10 and is something that our body makes naturally. They are found in all of our cells though our heart, kidneys, and liver have the highest levels of this. What CoQ10 does though is produce energy for us and also protects themselves from oxidative damage.

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So why bother with having specific supplements of these? Well as we get older, things start to decline and our cells may not be able to produce as much energy as before. If we want our body cells to stay in shape, providing these supplements can help.

One of the best ones out there to look at is Nature Made’s CoQ10 vitamins. These supplements are gluten free and only contain soybean oil, gelatin, glycerin, water, and soy lecithin, making them ideal for most individuals. They also provide great benefits to those who take Statin as statin drugs are known for reducing CoQ10 levels. This replenishes them and doesn’t conflict with the use of those drugs either.

5. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B is a typically good vitamin to have. But if you’re looking for the best energy supplements in this category, B12 is the best. B12 is all about helping your body transform food into energy that you cells can then use.

Beyond that, studies have found the vitamin helps with the body’s nerves and blood cells. It also prevents a type of anemia that can render you weak and tired.

A lot of people are deficient in this area which is to be expected since not everyone is eating a lot of animal proteins like meat, fish and dairy products. It’s particularly bad amongst vegans and vegetarians.

Fortunately, there is a good option for everyone to get their vitamin B12 they need — Naturelo’s Vegan B12 vitamin. Their protein is solely plant-based and provides a high among of B12 – 1000 mg per capsule. The main source of their B12 vitamin comes from Spirulina which is a rich, plant-based source of natural B vitamins, protein, and various minerals, giving you a clean supplement to boost your energy levels.

6. Iron

Our body also needs iron in order to function too. With a lack of iron we develop anemia which can then lead to sensations of weakness and fatigue. Iron is essential because it fights off that by providing red blood cells carrying oxygen to the body’s tissues.

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Overall, iron is able to help you with fighting back fatigue because of this essential function. The only issue is that a lot of iron in food sources stem from meats and seafood.

When looking for a pure and helpful supplement to look for, Naturelo Iron is the one. This particular supplement is appealing because it also provides you with vitamin C. Vitamin C is able to prevent iron deficiency so it pairs nicely with the iron supplement. Along with purse ingredients made from iron-rich whole foods and great absorption, you’re able to combat fatigue easier with these supplements.

7. Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone that our brain produces that puts us to sleep. When we wake up, there are very low levels and it goes up over the day. But if you’re trying to stop feeling tired why would a supplement that produces this sleepy drug be helpful?

Well, melatonin also serves as a way to fight off insomnia. Many people have sleeping issues because of high amounts of screen time (which disrupt the cycle of releasing melatonin). This insomnia leads to people feeling more exhausted physically and mentally.

So by increasing your melatonin through a supplement, you’ll be able to get sleep when your body actually needs it. This process alone will be able to recharge you and energize you.

And it’s not like you need a lot of melatonin in your body for it to work. Take Nature’s Bounty Melatonin. They provide 3mg of it per capsule and it’s more than enough for individuals to fall asleep to. Best of all, these supplements are suitable for vegetarians as well.

8. Tyrosine

Tyrosine is an amino acid that our body naturally produces as well. They are essentially the drugs behind making the chemicals that send messages from our body to the brain. Those chemicals are believed to decrease when we are in mentally or physically demanding activities. This leads to us being unable to concentrate and eventually feeling tired physically and/or mentally.

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As such, being able to supplement our tyrosine levels will be able to help us fight off feeling tired and mentally exhausted. And one particular brand that can assure this is Swanson Tyrosine. Their Tyrosine supplement is Non-GMO and each capsule provides 500 mg, a healthy amount to keep you focused and mentally energized.

9. L-Theanine

The last on our list is L-Theanine. It’s an amino acid that is actually commonly found in tea and mushrooms. Considering the fact that tea – and coffee – are able to keep us energized, it makes sense that L-theanine provides similar perks.[3]

What’s also nice about this particular supplement is that it also works well with coffee. Coffee has caffeine which naturally boosts our energy levels as well. The problem is coffee also provides side effects like nervousness, irritability, restlessness and a crash after a power boost. L-theanine with coffee though seems to prevent those side effects.

One particular supplement of L-theanine we found beneficial was Nature’s Trove L-Theanine. They use natural ingredients and are made in the US, GMP NSF Certified and Kosher Certified. They’re also suitable for vegetarians as well.

Final Thoughts

Life does have a way of taking a toll on our bodies and there will be days where we are completely drained. There are several ways for you to combat this with working on a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting a proper amount of sleep.

But for those looking to maintain higher energy, these supplements will provide a good opportunity for you to maintain higher energy levels and give you the natural boost that you need.

More on Energy Boosting

Featured photo credit: Aditya Saxena via unsplash.com

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