High working pace, stooping in front of the computers for hours at a time and little time to solve unexpected problems – everyday working life rarely invites to be creative. The solution: The creative hiatus, in a shortened version. Read our 5 tips for your 5-minute break.
A break every 60 minutes
Unwinding makes you more creative, as you may already know from the 1st part of our series. Based on this insight, we have been looking at the creative hiatus from all sides: Starting with the sabbatical planning in part 2, to the execution of the long creative hiatus of our colleague and Content Manager Tanja, who travelled the world in part 3 and 4 over the course of 7 months.
The next station: The creative hiatus on the not so grand scale. Because about every 60 to 90 minutes our bodies and minds are in need of a short break to maintain both performance efficiency and concentration.
Important to know: The greatest effect on recovery happens already in the first minute of a break. Many small interruptions of the working day are therefore more effective than one single long intermission.
Do you remember the interview with happiness coach Katharina Mühl? In the previous part of the series she talks about the overlap of feelings of happiness and creativity – and she also reveals the first tip for the short break in professional life:
1. Mini meditations
"We can incorporate little mini-meditations into everyday life. We can do this by consciously paying attention to what we hear, taste, feel or see," explains Katharina Mühl. Do you, for example, make a few trips to the coffee machine every day? Why not combine this existing habit with a mini-meditation for active relaxation? In addition: Walking to the coffee machine does not only bring a change for the mind, it is also a treat for your body to get up from the crooked sitting posture every once in a while, to stretch the muscles and get the circulation going again. When attempting a mini-meditation, it is important to consciously activate the senses and thus find one's way back to being in the moment and feel calm. Because only inner serenity will get creativity to start boiling.
2. Breathing techniques
You may already be familiar with the principle of inner peace from a yoga class. Appropriately, the following tip comes from yoga teacher and Content Glory Editor Carina: "The easiest exercise and the fastest quick-win are breathing techniques". So if you are looking for a quick solution for more concentration, regulating your breath will already help: Make sure to make every breath of air the same length of time, inhale for 5 beats and exhale for 5 beats. Another exercise is called alternating breathing: Breathe in and out alternately through your left and right nostril. "Such breathing techniques have the potential to change the neurochemistry in the brain and have an rapid effect on thinking and concentration," says Carina. And of course there is also the possibility to use breathing exercises to achieve mini-meditation. Project Manager Maren has this 3-minute exercise up her sleeve:
- 1st minute: Think about how you feel right now.
- 2nd minute: Count your deep breaths. One inhalation and exhalation count as one breath.
- 3rd minute: Breathe with your whole body – with your toes, hair, hands, etc.
The concentration lies entirely on your own body and emotions. After the meditation you should feel refreshed and clear.
3. Back exercises
We all know the problem: A phase of high concentration in front of the computer is coming to an end and all of a sudden you notice the tension in your shoulders and neck. Occupations that are mainly carried out in a seated position place a strain on the entire spine. Short-term relaxation for the neck muscles, can be achieved with the help of the "side nod": Turn your head slowly to the right and nod once, then straighten your head before repeating the exercise on the left side. You can find visual instructions here. Similarly, this exercise can also relieve back pain: sit upright, put your hands on your thighs and slowly turn your upper body to the right. Hold the position shortly, then repeat it on the other side. For back exercises there is some online material where you can find even more inspiration for quick stretching and strengthening exercises at your desk. For the athletic, this 10-minute workout for every day, for example, is perfect for alleviating back pain or have a go at this quick treatment including 7 exercises. Or try out some more excercises, which were created in special consideration of office chairs and even come with video instructions.
If this series has taught us one thing, it is that the muse needs an open space. The thought journey helps you to to create a change of perspective and relaxation. The easiest way to do this is throughout your own body. How can you manage that? Sit down in an undisturbed place, for example the break room, and relax. Close your eyes, regulate your breathing and focus on the moment. Sense how your body feels: How do your limbs feel? Which parts of your body are in contact with the chair? Consciously sense how your arms, shoulders, back and stomach feel. From there, the thought journey goes downwards to the legs and feet and finally to the head. You have reached the goal of the journey, if you are able to perceive the general body feeling. The conscious perception relaxes the muscles and at the same time calms the thoughts. All there is left to do, is to stand up, stretch out and take the relaxed feeling with you to your desk.
5. Simply doing nothing
"Do Nothing for 2 Minutes" is the name of a website for active relaxation and the name says it all. When you visit the site, you will see a timer that counts down from 2 minutes. During this period,you can do nothing but stare at a picture of the sea at sunset. Only one movement of the computer mouse and the timer resets to the start time. Mini breaks are often used to quickly open Instagram, scroll through Facebook or be sidetracked by other apps. Even if social media can be a good source of inspiration, there is always the danger of falling into a wormhole of content and even losing more of your focus during the break. So if you want to stare at a screen during a creative break, you can do so with "Do nothing for 2 Minutes" with a clear conscience and without the risk of distraction.
Whether you need a 30-second break like the side nod, or a longer mini-mediation with coffee and gossip, you know best. Each interruption helps to structure the daily work routine and maintain concentration and creativity throughout the day. Don't forget to take a break every 60 to 90 minutes. Because we achieve our performance target many times more easily by making use of several short working phases. And: The mini-break is a motivation boost. If we take several breaks during the day, we unconsciously look forward to each one and therefore put a bit more ambition and efficiency into our work.
Our Project Manager Maren can confirm this from experience: "With a targeted structure of breaks in which I don't have to do anything, but can do everything, I work much more efficiently. This has always helped me in my most intensive writing and creative phases."
So there’s the secret to relax and wait for the Eureka moment and bring the muse into the office even with a high work pace.
Would you like even more inspiration? We would love to share our personal recipes for the creative hiatus with you. You can find out exactly what these are, here.
Credit: ©Grant Bullert/AdobeStock