Working From Home, Tip #4: Pit Stops

Why do race cars make pit stops??

Think of yourself as a race car.

If you’re familiar at all with racing, you know that every so often a driver will pull into the pit. In fact, it’s required.

A pit stop is a simple thing. But it’s crucial. Change the tires. Top off the fuel. Clean the windshield. Chug some Gatorade. Why would anyone waste time stopping while everyone around them is flying by at 200mph? Couldn’t the tires go a few more laps? Couldn’t the fuel last just a little bit longer? Sure. Maybe the car could keep going a little bit more… But eventually, it would break down. Run out of fuel. Or worse, malfunction and crash. It’s the pit stop that lets the driver finish the race.

YOU are that car. I know it sounds silly, but I take a break EVERY hour. I tend to do my block time in chunks of 45-55 minutes. Always. Always, always, always.

The largest research study of performance and productivity shows that productivity goes way up when taking a break after 52 minutes. I use a literal timer on my computer or phone every time my butt sits down in the chair to work on a project. Nine times out of 10, I just say, “Hey Siri… set a timer for 45 minutes.” And if I’m doing emails, I dig into emails until that timer goes off. No Facebook. No Instagram. No blogging. No other projects.

If the timer goes off and I’m in the middle of something or really in that theta brainwave flow of what I’m doing, I have the freedom to keep on working until I come to a stopping point that’s not interrupting my productivity. But most of the time, I wrap up what I’m working on and take a 10-minute Pit Stop.

During that 10 minutes, I can go back into the kitchen and check my phone for any urgent messages I may have missed. I might grab a bottle of water, do some pushups or a few vinyasa flows, go for a walk around the block and get some sunshine and fresh air, do some breath work or stretching, take the dogs to the backyard… whatever. (Even closing your eyes for 1-2 minutes during this time can have a huge effect, since a ton of fatigue can come from eye, neck, and shoulder strain if you’re sitting in front of a computer all day!)

Ten minutes is really a long time. The main thing is to give your eyes and brain a rest, to move your body, to re-engage with the world around you… so you can get into your next chunk of block time refreshed and refocused.

When you just burn nonstop through the day, by the time you get to 3, 4, 5pm… you’re burned up. And nothing GREAT comes out of that. No great ideas. No great art. No great projects. Nothing.

But when you take a break every 50 minutes, you’re taking regular Pit Stops throughout the day to recharge and refuel. Again, I know this sounds like common sense. Or even silly. But do the math: If you work 8-9 hours in a day, and you take a 10-minute recharge each hour, you’re refilling yourself for 1.5 hours during that day. That’s an hour-and-a-half more fuel for creativity and enthusiasm and energy and problem-solving.

Plus, you’re leaving enough gas in the tank, not only to get you to the end of the work day, but for your family and loved ones after work is done.

I challenge you to give it shot. Do it for one day and see if you don’t feel more energized. More productive. More rested and more excited about your work. And let me know what you think!

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