give me a break, every ninty minutes

Good morning and happy Monday to you! I’m happy to announce that Wellington and Madison are going to be making their full debuts tomorrow on Jess LC. To celebrate I am offering free shipping on all domestic orders from September 15th-22nd.

This weekend was a good one. Erwin and I finally tackled the last of the unopened boxes from the move and I had a great long run. Yesterday I also went to brunch with my friend Amy, who recently started law school. We were talking about life and intentions as we often do, and I found myself mentioning a book that I’m reading called The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar quite a bit. So much so, that I think I will share some of my favorite takeaways over the next few weeks.

Give Me a Break


The first idea I want to talk about is one that I plan to start trying myself throughout the day. Tal mentions that today’s western culture encourages a marathon or endurance-like mentality when it comes to work. Because of this, people are pushing themselves to work much longer hours than in the past. And he himself was stuck in this work-trap early in his career, often working twelve hour days.

Macro-level Rest

The problem with this mentality Tal states is that we are not machines, but rather human beings with finite attention spans that need rest and recovery. There are three levels of rest he suggests might lead to a happier and more productive workday. On the macro-level he suggests that people take vacations from work once every six months. He also suggests people take at least one day off of work each week. I myself agree with these ideas and naturally follow them. But the micro-level suggestions got me thinking.

Micro-level Rest

On the micro-level, research shows humans are able to concentrate and maintain a high level of focus for at most one to two hours at a time. After that period, the quality of work suffers. With that in mind, Tal has structured his work into ninety minute chunks with 15 minute breaks in between. This allows him to fully engage with his work knowing that he will have the opportunity to recharge and do something completely unrelated within an hour and a half. By adopting this rhythm, he now accomplishes what used to take him 12 hours in just eight or nine hours.

I myself notice I tend to lose concentration after an hour and a half and will naturally start wandering into Twitter, Facebook, or my blogroll. Then I feel guilty, thinking that I should be able to stay on track until the work is complete- regardless of how long it might take. So starting today, I am going to start breaking my workday up with these free periods and see how it goes.

What can I say? It is the perfect chance to read through my blogroll. Anyone else thinking about adopting a similar strategy?

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  1. That’s great advice. I’ve heard it before, but it’s hard to listen when you are surrounded by people who think it best to get through everything at once. I’m going to try this more, because not knowing I have a break coming up makes me tune out of what I am doing and become less productive. I think I should read this book! Thanks!

  2. I definitely need to start instituting those breaks every 90 minutes…thank you for reminding me. I’m off to take a break… 🙂

  3. megan

    what a great idea! i’ve noticed that my jewelry students are more productive when i have them work for a short period of time and then move onto another task rather than just giving them open ended work time. why shouldn’t it work for me too?

  4. I’ve always loved the break rules required by Equity in theater – a 5 min break after 55 minutes of work or a 10 minute break after an hour & twenty mins of work. I think it’s super important to take a break in order to give yourself a chance to refresh and refocus.

  5. Donna

    This is definitely worth a try…I too struggle to stay focused for more than an hour and half…I just don’t think our bodies were made to do that…can’t wait to hear how it works for you! Love your jewelry, can’t wait to see the new stuff!

  6. Love it! I forgot where I was given the advice/told that 45-min working periods have been documented as being “the best”, but that has really worked for me – especially when I have to do something that I don’t wanna. I’ll set a timer for 45 minutes, & tell myself I’m allowed to stop after that time if I wanna. Usually, I’m so in a groove that I’ll set the timer for another 45-minutes. Then, when that buzzes, I’m tired & will give myself a 15 min break before moving on to the next thing. So, if 90 minutes proves too difficult at first, try a shorter burst & see what works for you.

    Looking forward to reading about your conclusions on this, Jess!

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