The inevitable three o’clock slump has hit again. You can practically hear the sound of a computer booting down in your brain.
But instead of reaching for that infamous 5-hour Energy the commercials are always telling you about or raiding the snack machine like a rabid raccoon, why not try taking a creative break?
So, what the heck is a creative break? Is that just a fancier way of saying lunchtime?
Well, no. A lunch break is a chance for you to feed your body. A creative break is a chance to feed your mind and improve your productivity at the same time.
So let’s dive right in with some fun ideas for creative breaks that can get you recharged when you hit that 3:00 wall.
Work Those Creative Muscles
Do you have any creative hobbies that get you jazzed? Writing comics? Sketching? Lanyard? It’s not a bad idea to leave some creative implements in your desk, whether that’s crayons, markers, yarn, etc. Something that will be at the ready when that dreaded slump hits, or worse yet, your brain is exploding from stress. Something as simple as a doodle pad is an effective way to get your head back in the game.
Think of it like taking a break for recess and getting the chance to play with your favorite toy. Just don’t forget to share!
Listen to Music
You ever notice how pumping up some jams while you’re cleaning the house or doing other less than desirable labor-intensive activities can make the experience so much more enjoyable? (Not to mention, more productive.)
So if you have the ability to listen to music while you work, by all means, go for it! But if you aren’t fortunate enough to have a position where listening to music would be appropriate (e.g. the six tables you’re manning at Applebee’s will be less than amused to see you rocking out to “Danger Zone” when you’re trying to take their order), give yourself a pause in the day to put your headphones in and lose yourself to the music for a little while.
Solve a Puzzle
Now I know what you’re thinking.
You already do enough puzzle solving at your desk all day. Why would you want to do that on your creative break?
But sometimes a re-shift in focus can help you refuel and make you approach your work with a clearer head.
So crosswords, word searches, Sudoku, whatever brain teasers are your jam, go for it. You’ll be amazed to see how much more productive you can be when you allow your mind the chance to analyze something new.
Play a Game
Alright, so we’re not talking about a three-hour fiasco of Monopoly here, but taking a small break to play a fun game such as Hangman or a card game can really give you a much-needed boost.
Not only will this wake you up, but it’s also a great way to reinforce your bond with your coworkers and help foster that team mentality.
Get Some Exercise
Studies have shown that workers who walk around for just two minutes after every hour of sitting at a desk can actually help reverse its negative side effects, and even boost longevity. So it looks like your dreams of a long retirement are a very real possibility after all!
(And considering the popularity of games like Pokemon Go right now, you have even more motivation to get out from behind your desk!)
Or, if you’re looking for a little more movement than a trip to and from the water cooler, why not do some brief yoga stretches or lift some light hand weights? There’s a million little ways you can get your body, and consequently your brain, in motion.
Seriously, we’re not kidding.
Despite popular belief, mediation is not just for hippies and Buddhist monks. It’s actually a practice everyone would do well to incorporate into their daily lives.
If you’ve never tried it before, you’ll probably find yourself getting a little distracted, but a wandering mind is totally normal when you’re new to meditation. Eventually, you’ll learn how to better focus your energy, get out of your own way, and allow your mind to relax.
If you’re continuing to have trouble with this, try focusing on your breath as it goes in and out. Similar to the old relic of counting sheep in order to fall asleep or finding a fixed point on the wall to stare out while doing your pirouettes, having something specific to focus on can be all you need to get yourself into a comfortable rhythm.
It’s amazing the new perspective just ten minutes of meditation can give you. And you’ll probably return to your desk less affected by the little annoyances - your coworker’s gum popping habit, the endless cat videos your boss sends you, or the fact that someone always eats your yogurt.
So give these creative break ideas a try, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself returning to your desk refreshed, reinvigorated, and more ready to tackle the challenges of the day.
Here’s to a longer, healthier, and more creative life!