working smarter

Every 15 minutes Nick’s timer goes off and we stand up for a moment and sit down again. Apparently, the more times throughout the day people stand up and feel their bodies interacting with gravity, the longer and healthier they live. When we do this, it’s amazing how quickly 15 minutes go by. Most of the time, I think the clock is lying. Surely it can’t have been 15 minutes already! And a few times it’s more than irritating. But we’ve quickly gotten used to it, continuing conversations and even my beading as we stand and sit regularly, not commenting on our actions but actually feeling better for that little stretch.

I am reminded of the American teacher who saw for himself how a 15 minute break for every 45 minutes of work kept his students alert and focused. The last time I did some serious work-oriented training, we learners were given breaks every hour and a half, and even MIT suggests a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes of study.

So with all this evidence of good results from regularly releasing the body from the tyranny of the mind, why do I still find it challenging? My idea of time well spent is usually a couple of hours spent doing something uninterrupted. I have to remind myself, often with alarms, to get up from the computer and stretch, or get up from my beading to work out the kinks or get up from my cozy chair where I’d been reading to look out the window. There still operates in my psyche a kind of stoic protestant work ethic that frowns on physical pleasure. Despite my intellectual confidence that breaks foster better results, emotionally I still feel like I’m cheating, though god knows who or what, if I interrupt my task. I’m fighting to live the phrase “work smarter not harder” in a whole lot of tiny ways throughout the day.

Oh, there’s the timer. Tea break!

working smarter, taking breaks, work, pleasure, work ethic


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