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Want To Be More Productive In Midlife? Then Take A Break...The RIGHT Way!

Episode 80 | (00:00):
Hey there, friend. Oh, midlife productivity. I don't know about you, but sometimes it seems to elude me, and I'm never quite sure why.

You know I'm always on the lookout for new and better ways to do things, so when I read that there was a better way to take breaks during your workday, I was all over it.

I was saying, "What? There's a way to take breaks that would actually refresh you more and improve your focus when you got back to work? I must know." And now I want to share it with you.

So that's what we're going to talk about today: an improved way to take your breaks so you can get more refreshment and make sure you're rested more thoroughly. That means you'll come back with even more focus than you did before you walked away for the break.

Are you ready to find out what these three little steps are that are going to help you improve your productivity by taking breaks the right way? All right, let's do this!

Hey there, Easy Ager. If you are not already on the Easy Aging® Insider's list, go to right after this episode and sign up today.

Recently in the Easy Aging® Facebook group, I posted a meme that said, "I got myself a seniors GPS. Not only does it tell me how to get to my destination, it tells me why I wanted to go there."

I thought this was quite appropriate since after this recent Christmas break, I seem to be more scattered than normal. You know, walking into rooms and forgetting why I went in there. Not paying attention and putting my elbow in my coffee.

Yep, I did it. It happened. I'm not sure how it happened. All I know is that I wasn't paying attention and my entire elbow went into the coffee cup. Fun fact: I did not realize my coffee cup was large enough to put my entire elbow in (but that is a conversation for another time.)

This led me to read an article from Evernote titled "Three Surprising Secrets to Maintaining Your Focus."  Because here's the deal: When we get overwhelmed, we have a tendency to think we should work harder.

But friend, working harder doesn't work. It's been proven over and over again that the "nose to the grindstone" approach and gritting your teeth is ineffective.

So right now, as you're hearing my voice, say to yourself, "Stop it. Just stop all this grit, grind and hustle stuff, and take a moment to rethink everything." Rethink the way you work.

Working harder doesn't work because your brain doesn't do well going 100% all day long. On the contrary, it does just the opposite. It burns you out. It's counterproductive to your ability to think clearly and to use your creativity and your problem solving skills effectively.

So what does work? Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign conducted a study that confirmed that our brains are constantly moving. They are constantly looking for changes to respond to.

That's because your brain's primary job is to protect you, to make sure you're not attacked by a predator and you don't get eaten. Your brain does an excellent job of standing guard for you 24/7, and it makes sure that you're not in danger.

But think about it: If you have this type of brain that's constantly on the lookout for change, and then you have something that's unchanging, your brain is going to stop responding to it. It's going to stop interacting with that unchanging thing because it doesn't view it as a threat, right?

And when I say unchanging, I'm talking about that blank screen when you're working on your novel, or that place where you just get stuck when you're doing an important report for work.

Your brain is checking it out and saying, "What? No change. Oh, okay, folks, nothing to see here." How can you avoid this? It's simple: take breaks. I know these sound ridiculously simple, don't they?

In the study I mentioned earlier, researchers found that "even brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one's ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods."

By regularly giving your brain a break, you can focus even more when you come back to the work. I refer to this as sprints. A sprint is basically when you work for a specific amount of time, then you take a break for a specific amount of time.

Personally, I am sprint-dependent because without them, a lot of things are left undone or I spend way too much time staring at the blank screen and being unproductive.

I talked about sprints in episode 34, which was titled "The #1 Midlife Secret to Productivity That Helps You Achieve Optimal Performance Daily." I explained why sprints worked, and I left you with three ways you could do a sprint.

So go back and listen to episode 34 for more specifics. I'm not getting into those details now because today, we're talking about the how of taking breaks more effectively.

Desktime did a time management study and discovered that being productive during sprints meant establishing a "100% dedication theory." Basically, this means whatever you're doing, give it your complete attention and focus.

When you're working, be 100% committed to the work and when you're resting, be 100% committed to the rest. And this means taking effective breaks. So how do you do this?

  1. Schedule your break and make sure you take it without apology. Don't feel guilty if you're taking a break. Just keep telling yourself that the break will help you feel refreshed and ready for another round of productivity. Don't ever feel guilty because you're taking a break.
  2. Be 100% committed to resting. That means you need to walk away from what you're working on. Get completely away from the work and think about anything else but work.Leave the laptop and the phone where they're sitting, walk away and do something completely different. This can include chatting with colleagues about movies or restaurants or any non-work related item.
  3. Move your beautiful body, dear. Stand up. Stretch. Go for a brisk walk. My favorite way to rest is to get outside for a few minutes. Sometimes I sweep the porch or get the leaves off the back deck or add water to the bird bath. If you can't get outside, just walking around your office or your house can get your blood pumping. Turn on some of your favorite tunes and dance. (I do this regularly.) I love coming back to my desk with a new level of energy flowing through me and even being a bit out of breath at the end of my dance party.

As counterintuitive as it is, taking breaks in an intentional way can be exactly what you need to improve your productivity. To recap, if you really want to boost yourself to optimal performance on a daily basis, take your breaks the right way by:

(1) scheduling and taking your breaks without apology; (2) being 100% committed to rest during your breaks; and (3) moving your beautiful body to clear your mind and get your blood pumping.

That's it for today. Once again, if you are not already an Easy Aging® Insider, go to right now and sign up.

I'll see you in the next episode. And until then, peace, love and blessings to you and yours. Take care. Bye-bye!


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