HOW TO TAKE A BREAK
OK, I hope the concept of a tea break is something that is not lost on most of you , but for those of you who have been living under a rock…here it is…the step by step guide.
You stop what you are doing
Walk away from your desk
Make the beverage of your choice
Drink the beverage
Extra points for biscuits and other assorted snacks
You would be amazed by the amount of people for whom this isn’t the norm. Taking a break from work is essential; your brain recharges, your eyes focus better and your back can have a much-needed stretch. I know that tea breaks feel like you are slacking off and that a lot of (not so good) bosses don’t encourage them, but as a person who has worked in a lot of workshops and run several departments, I am here to tell you that tea breaks help productivity.
The tea break is aptly named because of the consumption of that hot cosy liquid, but the important part is “break”. You need to take a step back from your work. We have all got to that point where nothing seems to go right, the machine won’t work, you cut the wrong piece of fabric, everything sets on fire, dragons appear. This stress is usually amplified by overly optimistic deadlines and persistent late nights. (We have all been there). So I’ll repeat: TEA BREAKS INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY. It’s okay every few hours to put down your scissors, put the kettle on and walk away from your desk before you kill someone with the pointiest corner of the set square. It gives your brain a moment to reset and your body a moment to relax and often you will come back to your work and realise that what was an incomprehensible stressful ball a moment ago now looks like a manageable project again.
Another argument in the support of tea breaks is that it keeps up staff morale. It gives everyone the chance to check their text messages but it also allows you to talk about something other than work and remember that there is a life beyond the four walls of the workshop so you don’t get consumed by the stress of the current project. It creates a sense of community which in turn means people can ask questions and get help on their projects when they are back in the room; something that is eluding you is often obvious to someone not sat on the stress mountain you have created, but to do this you need to feel comfortable with the people you are working with.
ALSO it helps your back, we as an industry spend hours bent over a table in pain and not wanting to stop because we will get behind. My physiotherapist suggests stopping every 20 minutes and walking around to stop your body seizing up. I’m aware that when you get into your work it is easy to forget that but having regular tea breaks gives everyone in the room a moment to remember that they have been hunching for 2 hours and might need to move before they turn into some kind of permanent sewing statue. Incidentally it turns out my back problems are directly linked to my migraines which have been causing me to take time off work for years, so this really is the healthy choice and it makes economic sense.
So here it is.
THE TEA BREAK REVOLUTION.
I am personally giving you permission to stand up, put down whatever evil thing you are working on, take a breath and walk away. It’s ok, I promise. It will help.
And to be honest even if it doesn’t… at least you’ll have the caffeine in your system to help deal with it.