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Micro breaks are more important than ever as organizations of every kind begin to revolutionize the eight-hour workday. Laborious tasks that once required hours of total concentration are much easier to complete and now only take a few minutes to sort.
The problem? Our to-do lists are longer than they’ve ever been.
Switching between priorities may seem like it’s useful to maintaining mental acuity, but it tends to do more harm than good. Here’s why.
Only a fraction of the workforce are actually built for multitasking, and the average person will need 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover from a distraction before they’re able to get back into the swing of things. That’s a lot of time lost throughout the day.
However, interruptions are a fact of life, and most workers will invariably find themselves arriving at a natural stopping point. When that happens, you can use these resources to give your energy levels bit of a boost.
Name Shark (iOS, Free)
The business world is full of interoffice meetings, networking events, client introductions and team-building exercises, which has made putting names to faces a mandatory life skill.
The Name Shark app lets you quiz yourself on the personal attributes and details of your contacts so you’ll never have to tiptoe around the topic of who someone is ever again. In fact, if you’re meeting a lot of new people in your role, the app may actually help you advance your career.
You can unlock the ability to share contact groups and set up password protection via in-app purchases. Of all the things you could be doing while on a coffee break, this is probably going to be one of the better ways to spend your time.
Download: iOS (Free)
If you’re tired of talking to or being around people all the time, especially when on break, then you need to have a chat with Cleverbot – an A.I. that learns from what other users have typed in and can imitate a response.
Bear in mind that people can say some pretty dumb and/or insensitive things on the Internet when they can hide behind anonymity, so you will need to exercise discretion. For the most part, though, you’ll be amazed at how insightful and amusing Cleverbot can be.
Clients From Hell (Web)
As bad a day as you might be having, it’s strangely reassuring to know that someone else is having it worse. Clients From Hell is a website that’s constantly updated with hilarious stories from people dealing with the demands of ill-informed and frustrating clients.
You can even submit your own experiences in secret as a form of therapy to help you move past whatever’s throwing you off your game. The site is an entertaining read, and it won’t be long before you’re telling all your friends and colleagues about it at the water cooler.
If it catches on, there’s also a store where you can buy a range of branded items including coffee mugs, stress balls, T-shirts, stickers and more.
Calm (iOS and Android, Free)
One of the most popular relaxation tools to use in a busy office environment is Calm. Sessions last from two to 20 minutes, depending on how long you have, and the guided or silent experiences are completely customizable.
For instance, you can listen to a soothing voiceover set against the animated backdrop of a clear mountain lake or, if you prefer, opt to transport yourself to an oceanfront at sunset where seabirds wheel about overhead.
Of course you will need to keep the window open in your browser unless you’re using the mobile app, which incorporates tracking functionality. If you like the free version, there’s also a one-month subscription for $9.99 or a 12-month subscription for $39.99, though you can choose to upgrade at any time.
Before you know it, you’ll have mastered the art of overcoming distractions and will be returning to work with a renewed sense of self.
The Onion (Web)
If you’ve had enough of the news and are looking for an outlet that’s dedicated to finding humor in the everyday, make friends with The Onion. You can’t go wrong with a site that receives 15.3 million visits a month.
Remaining up to date and informed of the lighter side of life has never looked as good as it does on mobile, though you might like to download the Newsstand app for Android for best results. This way you’ll have an excellent conversation starter ready wherever you go.
Kickstarter (iOS, Free)
By now you’re probably aware of Kickstarter and have probably seen your way to backing a few of the projects. Have you ever thought about using the popular crowdfunding platform as a source of inspiration for creative solutions?
Surrounding yourself with interesting ideas is a great way to fill your break. If you subscribe to the 52-17 strategy, whereby you spend 52 minutes of working uninterruptedly before taking a well-deserved 17-minute break, then you need to spend some of that time on Kickstarter.
You can while away hours on the site’s Discover page, and the app’s not bad either, though you are limited to a much smaller screen size which hampers the usability of some of the search functions.
Download: iOS (Free)
Coffitivity (Android and iOS, Free)
Employees trying to get any work done in an open-plan office environment typically cite noise pollution as the reason they’re distracted every 10.5 minutes. What many don’t realize is that silence can be just as deafening. Coffitivity knowns this and lets you experience the joy of working from a coffee shop.
Like Calm, this is a website and audio app that mimics the atmosphere of where you’d rather be, the difference being that Coffitivity drowns out more of your immediate surroundings. While it’s not for everyone, it is for urbanites who revel in the dull roar of shops dedicated to the world’s favorite beverage.
Both platforms feature modern interfaces that would make any hipster happy and the ambient sound quality is phenomenal. The service is not meant to be used on its own, however, and the site recommends that listeners play their own music over the top. That aside, it’s well worth trying when you want to tune out.
Download: Android (Free) [No longer available] | iOS (Free)
Headspace (Android and iOS, Free)
Rounding out the last of the mediation apps on this list is Headspace, a solution for mobile and desktop users alike. The free trial involves a 10-session program requiring only 10 minutes of your time a day, and it’ll train your mind and body.
The full version of the app contains downloadable sessions and hundreds of hours of additional content and is unlocked for $12.99 per month or $94.99 per year. Luckily, the Android and iOS apps both come highly recommended and it’s no wonder they’re loved by millions of users – including Emma Watson. It’s a must try.
While there’s no mobile app for Dribble, there are two ways to go about using it. First, you can browse the platform at your leisure without signing up, but you might need to familiarize yourself with the site’s basketball-based terminology before doing so as it can be confusing to newcomers.
Your other option is to create an account and follow the designers you like. Dribbble will give you an update of what’s been happening since you last logged in to help you maximize your break time productivity.
Break Now, Be More Productive Later
“All efforts to control behavior, to perform and to focus draw on that pool of psychological energy. Once that energy source is depleted, we become less effective at everything that we do.”
Research shows that the human mind is not meant to work for eight straight hours a day. You need breaks throughout your work day in order to maintain a high level of engagement with your work, and to have energy all day long.
As long as you’re actually trying to get work done, it’s okay to call it quits for five minutes now and then so you can relax you mind and recharge your creative processes.
Due for a break now? Why not check out a few of the resources listed above? Give us your best tips on how to take effective breaks.
Image Credits:feet up drinking coffee by Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock