Have you been overworking? Are you feeling all exhausted and the evidence is everywhere? Well my friend, it may be time to take a break.
We have stressed time and time again the importance of taking frequent breaks to boost productivity while working from home. It may sound counterintuitive to equate productivity with taking breaks, but when you are constantly draining yourself of energy due to stress and fatigue, you become less and less effective at what you do. Turns out that the secret to being at your most productive and effective self at your work at home is not in putting in long hours without letup but in getting enough breaks throughout the work day.
According to research, our brain needs to refresh at least every after 90 minutes of work. There are also studies revealing that mental fatigue sets in after a three-hour continuous work. We just simply aren’t wired to focus for 8-hours straight since our brains run on limited juice hence regular refueling via breaks is an absolute prerequisite to productivity.
Before you start hammering away to check your Facebook notifications, sorry to break it but idly scrolling through your newsfeed may not exactly be the best way to make the most out of your precious breaks. The good news is, there are many ways on how you can spend your break time to rev up some energy and improve your brain functioning at home.
Look away from your screen for 20 seconds
If you are constantly staring at a computer when you are working from home, you can help reduce computer-caused eye strain by following the simple 20-20-20 rule. The rule suggests that every 20 minutes, you have to look away from your computer for 20 seconds and look at something 20 feet away from you. If a mere twenty seconds do not seem enough, proceed with our next tip.
Look out the window and seek green for 40 seconds
A study from the University of Melbourne shows that glancing at a green landscape for a mere 40 second break can boost your concentration and productivity. The research was conducted with a group of participants that were asked to do a boring, attention-sapping task.
Midway through it, they were given a 40-second microbreak where half of the group viewed a flowering meadow roof while the other half looked at bare concrete roof. The experiment revealed that those who had a view of nature performed significantly better on the second half of the task with less errors and more concentration compared to those who just viewed the concrete roof.
The implication of this study is self-explanatory. If you are lucky enough to have greens in your line of sight while working from home, doing something as simple as looking out the window to see nature for less than a minute can help refresh your attention span.
Watch cute cat videos for 10 minutes
Rejoice internet cat lovers! Science backs up that looking at cute kitten memes can benefit your workflow! Yes, you read it right. A 2012 Japanese study reveals that looking at pictures of cute animals has positive effect on your productivity.
Think fluffy puppies, baby pandas and LOLcat posters. The report concludes that harnessing the power of “kawaii” – Japanese word for cuteness, not only makes us happier but also stimulates our behaviour positively. We suggest having Edinburgh’s panda cam on bookmark for your daily fix of cute things.
Be a yogi for 20 minutes
According to a study from the University of Illinois, a quick timeout for yoga can boost your brain functions. In the research, participants were either asked to carry out either a yoga class or an aerobic session. After a cognitive assessment, those who did yoga actually performed better. The mindfulness component of doing mini yoga breaks as a routine not only improves your productivity and focus but also balances your body and clears your mind.
There are easily some good yoga exercises that you can do from your desk at home, even while sitting at a chair. We recommend watching this video for some yoga moves inspiration that you can do on your chair. Stretch away and get the energy flowing again!
Hap a midday nap for 45 minutes
For years, people who doze off on duty get a bad rep for being slackers until recently when there have been scientific evidences pointing to the benefits of midday napping. Rather than fighting off the drowsies with sugar burst or a caffeine fix, take comfort in knowing that it is scientifically-proven healthier to just give in to your urge to your snooze. Benefits such as mental alertness, positive feelings, improved creativity, productivity and overall health are reasons not to feel guilty about napping when and if you need it.
A Harvard study reveals that learning and memory can be improved by five-fold with a 45-minute nap. Taking naps improve our hippocampus, an area in our brain in-charge of storing new information into our long-term memory. Interestingly, even the anticipation of a nap is lowers blood pressure, according to a British study. So if you are feeling tired and sleep -deprived, sneak an eye shut and power through the day- and it’s much easier to do when you are working from home!
Eat proper lunch for an hour
When you are working from home, it’s so easy to just grab whatever’s available in the fridge. You also tend to just eat while working at your desk when you’re too engrossed with a project – or worse, skipping the meal altogether. No matter how busy you are with work, don’t skip a midday meal. Food is your fuel and remember that what and how you eat can determine how more or less productive you are for the day.
Multitasking (aka stuffing yourself while working) may seem like a productive strategy, but a recent research about multitasking reveals exactly the opposite. Solely focusing on eating (the right food, mind you) not only nourishes you but also makes you become more efficient with your tasks.
The whole idea of a break is to do anything but work. From now on, make a commitment to take your breaks and the results could surprise you.
Is it not time to take a break yet?
Originally written for SurveyBee
Some in-depth thoughts on my trip to Vatican
I had mixed feelings being right there in the Vatican last year. While I’m in awe of its beauty and grandeur, I had a hard time reconciling the disparity between the teachings from my strict Catholic upbringing – of compassion and social justice, and the overt decadence and immense wealth of this palatial structure. Such is institutional hypocrisy at its grandest scale, in my opinion.
Yet, setting aside religious precepts, Vatican is definitely enjoyable and worth-visiting for its art and cultural heritage. If you happen to be there, you wouldn’t want to miss the cupola.The harrowing climb up the St. Peter’s dome is vertigo- inducing and strenuous even for the fit (all 550 steps of it by foot, 320 by lift) but it was, by all means, all worth the trouble as we were rewarded with a magnificent 360 degree view of the eternal city.
In light of the Pope’s recent visit to the Philippines, I hope the country remembers his heed against corruption, citing it as a legacy of sin on one of his homilies. Seeing that the rock star pope has more star power and reach than the brightest local celebrities and mass media combined, I wish his message reaches the poor uneducated masses, most especially, and awakens everyone to challenge corruption and champion transparency.
The view from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was worth all the huffing and the puffing
The basilica’s facade and a few of the 140 saints on the colonnade
A view of Rome from the top of the dome
Michelangelo himself designed this dome. Breathtaking!
St. Peter’s Our Lady of the Column Dome
St. Peter’s Basilica dome, conquered.
This was on my way to the cupola and here’s a view from the fenced area of the dome’s base. Look how tiny the people are. To give you an idea of how big this structure is, the letters are twice as big as me.
Statue of St. Paul infront of the basilica
The pictures just don’t give justice to the size and beauty of this place. For example, this structure looks small because it’s dwarfed by the ginormous dome but this baldacchino is actually 96-foot-tall. It’s said that the bronze that makes up this stucture were taken from the Pantheon. Hence the epigram Quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini : What the barbarians did not do, the Barberinis did
An elaborate air vent on the floor of the basilica that leads to the underground crypts, presumed as St. Peter’s final resting place
A closer look at the dome. the latin inscription is translated as “To the glory of St. Peter, Pope Sixtus V in the year 1590, fifth of his pontificate”
Lights shining through the windows of the basilica, lending a reverent mood to the place
Group picture infront of the basilica
A Swiss guard in its colorful drab
Swiss guard on duty
In response to the weekly photo challenge: depth
It’s been over five years when I was last home in Manila so I am just really glad to have finally been able to spend the Christmas holidays there. It was really nice being able to spend time with family and friends for a long overdue catch up. We had always wanted to visit these past years but our work and school schedules had always gotten in the way. But at last, we finally managed to squeeze in a three-week trip to the Philippines and I couldn’t be any happier. This was also the hubby’s first time to visit so I was very excited to show him around the country. Despite the hassles we had with the long flights, the holiday chaos and delayed baggages, the sun warming our faces and just being able to frolic in flipflops have made every bump along the way worth it. It has been such a welcome change from the usual gray and bitter cold winter that we left in Denmark. Imagining everyone home freezing while we enjoy the white powdery sands and turquoise waters just couldn’t help me from feeling so decadent and delightfully guilty! It has been an amazing trip – we had so much fun and we will be back sooner than later! :)
One happy viking
The Christmas tree at my parents’ house, all lit up for the holidays! Plastic but fantastic! :P
Another day, another beautiful sunset in Boracay island
Seafood – as fresh as it gets
How incredible that we chance upon Danish friends in this tiny island. Goofing around with the locals in the limobike :)
Gorgeous amber sky at sunset
We could get used to this – our feet buried on the sand, butts plunked on bean bags, faint reggae music in the background as we enjoy a good meal served with ice cold beer and a view of the moonlit sea
What’s for lunch
Greetings from the tropical paradise
Bamboo lanterns like this adorned the coconut trees at night
Plenty of fish , indeed.
Enjoying the sun, sea and sand!
See other entries for this week’s challenge here
These are some photos that I took from my trip in Berlin last week. I believe that these shots reflect the rich culture, painful and darkest pasts, as well as the dynamic and contemporary landscapes of the city.
I was lucky to be there for the Festival of Lights, a ten day event that happens annually every October where many of Berlin’s famous landmarks and monuments are lit up with colorful light projections each night. This one of the Brandenburg Gate is my favorite! Everyone at the square stood in awe as we watched the structure awash in different colors and moods.
This marks the memorial for the book burning by the Nazis in Bebelplatz. In 1821, German poet Heinrich Heine wrote, “Where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people”.
In its heyday, this avenue was once the hedonists’ paradise, known to cater to the who’s who who got a penchant for kinky sex, drugs and booze.
This metal plate inscription marks where the wall once stood. It is almost surreal to think of how people can now freely walk between what used to be East and West Germany and that not so long ago, it was almost impossible to imagine that the Wall would ever fall.
Yes I do!
The iconic Ampelmännchen or the little traffic man, arguably one of the most recognizable icon of Berlin
I went to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp along with some new friends I met from the hostel. For some of us, it was our first time to visit an actual concentration camp and I can say that it wasn’t something that we were quite prepared for. The experience was so gut-wrenching and emotionally-draining that we didn’t even manage to take many pictures from this place. Pictured is the gate that greets the doomed souls with the infamous words “Arbeit macht freit” or roughly “work makes you free”.
Just walking between the concrete slabs of the memorial
The Berlin Cathedral bathing in the glow of sunset. This was the last picture I took from my week-long stay in Berlin before catching the midnight train back to Denmark.
The “Mother with her Dead Son” is set under an oculus, allowing snow, rain and sunlight to fall unto the sculpture. Must be a sight to behold in winter, I could imagine.
Gendarmenmarkt, my most favorite square in Berlin
East Side Gallery
Just because I like taking pictures of windows with people sitting by them
Gotta love autumn sceneries like this when the ground is adorned with splendidly coloured leaves!
Humboldt University, the very institution that produced Marx, Einstein, Engels and Heine. Pictured is the imposing facade of the Faculty of Law
Passing time on the train ride en route to Oranienburg station with my hostelmates from Spain, Australia and Austria
Random quote on a cement block
Admiring the golden domes of the Neue Synagoge
The Berlin TV Tower
Playing hide and seek with a photographer
Remembering the millions of lives lost during the Holocaust
The beautiful Berliner Dom, a baroque cathedral designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel.
The memorial was intended to be passive and rather abstract, where interpretation is left to the viewer. What do these blocks mean to you?
Travel Tip: To those visiting Berlin for the first time, I highly recommend the free walking tour offered by Sandemans New Europe. The tour gives an excellent overview of Berlin, its history, insider tips and the places that you can further explore on your own. Please note that although it is free, guides only earn on a tip basis. Rest assured that the tour is worth more than every little penny that you tip! Whenever possible, I always start my trips with a Sandeman tour. I have used them on my first visit to Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Brussels – they never disappoint! :-)