Breaking Up the Day

Today, I forced myself to take all my work breaks and a lunch.

You would think that taking a break would be easy. It’s time away from work, time away from the computer, and a chance to socialize with co-workers. In theory, I should be waiting for every single break I can get my hands on.

Not the case for me. I sometimes feel as if I’m just riding the line between healthy minded employee and workaholic. In fact, we’re just coming out of a huge overtime phase, and even though there’s still some that could be done, I’m making myself pull away and take a break to save my sanity. Because while the extra money in the check is nice, the stress that comes with it and the road to burnout have started taking their toll.

Going back to the break issue, my office gives me two fifteen minute breaks and a lunch hour in a 9 hour period. Over the summer, that lunch hour was only a half hour because I took advantage of the ability to leave earlier and enjoy the nice weather. Now that fall is setting in, I’m working a little later and getting a longer lunch period for errands, naps, whatever.

With the half hour lunch, it was just easier to work through it and rack up a little bit of OT or use it as comp time later. It was also hard to take my second break of the day because it fell in the last half hour of my day, a prime time for little work fires that needed to be put out before I left for the evening to hit my inbox.

Logistics aside, I also have a mental thing when it comes to breaks. I don’t always want to take them. When work is piling up and I’m falling behind, my first instinct is to skip the breaks and keep grinding away to accomplish more and get to my end goal. There have been times when I’ve forgotten about eating altogether, and while some might say I could do without a meal or two, going long periods of time without eating does bad things to my blood sugar and makes me homicidal.

Today was one of those “I shouldn’t take a break” days. I couldn’t catch up on work , and I barely had time to handle any email correspondence. I was so frustrated by the whole situation that at one point, I really thought it would be best to work through my lunch.  Then I realized that frustration tends to compound, and if I didn’t get out of there I’d only make it worse for myself.

So I took my breaks with a co-worker and chatted and breathed and let my eyes rest from staring at a computer screen all day. And I took my lunch. One glorious hour, sitting in my quiet car with the windows down, enjoying the mild weather we’re having this week and playing on my phone. The phone part probably wasn’t great on the eyes, but I was able to work on a list, check my Twitter feed, and just relax for a little while.

It was great. To think, I was going to work through that long moment of serenity.

As nice as it was, I don’t doubt that I’ll find myself falling into that thought process again. I need to make a forceful and conscious effort to take my breaks and clear my mind, because when I don’t, I get frustrated and angry and irritated…even more than my default settings of all three, at any rate.

Goal from here on out: take breaks, take lunch, don’t question it, and don’t feel guilty. Considering work time is intense work time and things do get done, I have nothing to feel guilty about.



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