There are loads of articles praising productivity. They explain how to pack more into your workday, multi-multi-task, and squeeze every minute of every day until every last drop of work can be extracted.

Stop It Right Now

I’m here to tell you the opposite, and to offer suggestions for recharging your batteries. Taking a moment to breathe is just as important as all those other moments where you’re working intently, eyes burning into your computer screen. Taking these micro-breaks will make you a better, fresher, and more productive colleague.

The Problem: Sitting

For starters, let’s look at that whole sitting-in-your-chair thing. If you’re anything like me, you sit down hard, work hard, and then get up and say, “Wow, that was hard. My legs hurt!” I use built-in reminders to get up and get moving. If you work from home, or are not working in a group setting, this can be crucial because you miss out on cues from your co-workers who remind you to get up and take a break.

The solution: Stand up! Set an alarm for yourself (and stick to it). Unfortunately, Gmail has retired its email shut out add-on from Google Labs, but this article offers free apps to help remind you to stop working for a few minutes. When your alarm goes off, you even can do some of these exercises that collectively burn 100 calories.

Bonus: Take a tip from my co-workers Dany, Frank, and Ali, who use stand-up desks. They love it!

The Problem: Eye Strain

The plain fact is that we spend more and more time online than ever before. It’s not just computers of course, but also mobile devices, television, and other backlit screens. It adds up to overworked eyes.

The solution: Give those baby blues a rest. Yes! There are apps for that, too.

Bonus: In addition, I’m trying to limit my screen time when I’m not working. Reading? I just pick up a good book (not the Kindle!), and do more knitting or artwork.

The Problem: Stagnation

Maybe you get into a groove when working for long stretches. I’m fortunate to work on a variety of projects incorporating different styles. But what to do when things get stale?

The solution: Open your doors. Inspiration can take many forms. A few obvious but good ways to get your creativity on:

  • Go for a walk. Take along a co-worker and have a meeting in an unusual place.
  • Eat your lunch or snack away from your desk. You’ll enjoy your food more if you pay attention to what you’re eating, rather than chewing your way to a deadline.
  • Read something in your field that inspires you — keep up with your industry blogs and be in-the-know.
  • Read/watch something NOT in your field that inspires you — I love seeing creative solutions to problems. TED talks are wonderful for this.

Bonus: Music plays a huge part of my workday. Have playlists set up for different moods. Need something peaceful and ambient? Try Birdsong Radio for a burst of spring — a season to inspire you no matter what time of year it is.