How to set up the perfect midday break for optimal productivity

While coronavirus restrictions are easing up in some states, others are still stringent, and the only Starbucks run you might be making is the one from your kitchen to your home office. But working from home shouldn’t mean that you miss out on your mid-morning or afternoon break. “If you’ve been super productive and cranking out work efficiently but suddenly find yourself staring off in another direction, it’s time for a break,” said Karen Oakey, Director of Human Resources at Fracture. 

Sometimes it’s a snack break

Just because you don’t have a formal lunch hour anymore doesn’t mean you should skip lunch. “My general rule of thumb is that you should be eating every 3-4 hours to maintain blood sugar levels — which is more important than ever while trying to work from home,” advised Dr. Brooke Scheller, DCN, CNS and Director of Nutrition at Freshly. Dr. Scheller explained that for some, “a small afternoon snack may be helpful to stave off decreases in energy and productivity to get through the afternoon. Snacks should always be focused on incorporating proteins and healthy fats to stabilize energy. Consuming sweets and high carb will likely cause a crash later on in the day.” So, before you do take a break, give some thought to whether it will be fuel or an indulgence.

Walk it off

More important than the break itself, is “scheduling time to take breaks (whether they include snacks or not)” according to Dr. Scheller. She also said, “Oftentimes we find that without scheduled breaks we may stop to snack, even when we’re not hungry, but just to take a minute away from the computer.” If at all possible, Dr. Scheller recommends that you “take an outdoor walk, do a quick online workout, or even perform a meditation.” She said that “Exposure to the outdoors increases positivity and improves well-being and even can increase job satisfaction.” And don’t skip lunch. Dr. Scheller said that “Taking a proper lunch break is equally important. Lunch is a key component of our diets, making up ⅓ or more of our daily food intake, and it’s the meal powering you through the majority of your workday, making what you eat for lunch critical in your ability to focus and concentrate.”

Still can’t seem to set aside time for a beverage break?

  • Try blocking out time in your calendar every single day (at the same time if possible) for a coffee break. If that doesn’t work, set a reminder on your phone. And be vigilant about keeping that time for yourself.
  • Try adding more water to your day. Even if coffee or tea don’t do it for you, remembering to hydrate also allows you to tune out of your work for a few minutes. Besides, it’s been reported that being dehydrated can make it harder for you to think clearly. Taking a break means better workflow overall.
  • Get Alexa to help you out: Sometimes you need a voice reminding you that it’s break time.

Try these for a better (or more fun) break:

  • For some reason, electric kettles haven’t quite caught on in the states the way they have in Europe and Canada. Hamilton Beach makes a sleek stainless steel electric kettle that makes boiling water that much more fun.
  • Have a hard time digesting milk proteins?  a2 Milk is real milk from local US farms that comes from cows that naturally produce only the A2 protein and no A1.
  • Sips by creates a personalized box of tea for you monthly depending on your likes.
  • GoSili makes stylish and reusable silicon cups.
  • Celestial Seasonings recently launched TeaWell, organic wellness teas meant to support a healthy immune system and digestive health while tasting yum.
  • Rooibos tea (sometimes known as red tea or bush tea) is said to be rich in antioxidants and also believed to soothe stress. Steep your teabag then add cinnamon, cardamom, ground cloves, ground ginger, milk and sugar for rooibos chai.
  • Hong Kong milk tea on the other hand, will supercharge your late afternoon blahs. It’s made by mixing a generous amount of condensed (sweetened) or evaporated (unsweetened) milk into brewed black or Ceylon tea.
  • Some of Numi’s Holistic Tea feature trendy feature adaptogens (popular in herbal medicine) from turmeric to ashwagandha, maca and moringa in its new line, all of which can be used to boost the immune system, bolster energy, or re-set your day.
  • Obsessed with boba AKA bubble tea? Me, too. And I’m trying not to order all the Kawaii inspired cuteness of Smoko’s entire boba inspired line including this of the moment Pearl Boba Tea Face mask. 
  • Want to set up your own boba station at home? These are the boba tapioca pearls I use at home (Buddha Bubbles Boba) after trying too many to count. Tip: when cooking your boba: Less is more. Don’t add boba until you’ve reached a roiling boil. Use a silicon tipped spatula to break up any clumps. Let cook until the tapioca grows in size and rise to the top. Then cook another five minutes to be on the safe side!
  • RSP Nutrition Clarity Creamer is a vegan, non-dairy creamer packed with MCT oil from coconuts and brain-boosting ingredients said to enhance focus, memory and clarity, including artichoke extract, bacopa, and ginkgo biloba.
  • Prefer your coffee break to smell like the real thing? Demeter Fragrance has an entire line of coffee-inspired fragrance products, including Fresh Brewed Coffee, Nitro Coffee and Espresso – all available in a spray, shower gel, body lotion, massage oil and atmosphere diffuser.
  • Verve coffee has loads of great recipes for creating a coffee/cocktail hybrid, including the Old Fashioned. Or try alcohol-infused BOMANI Cold Buzz with zero sugar or carbs and gluten-free alcohol.
  • Buona Caffe is known for its freshly ground or whole bean coffee. Welcome Home blend is a great reminder that home is where the coffee (break) is.
  • Target’s upped their coffee game with their line of Archer Farms ground coffees including Caramel Macchiato Light Roast.
  • If you need your cup of Joe to be as authentically coffee house as possible, consider splurging on a The Wolf Gourmet 10-Cup Programmable Coffee System’s Accu-Brew Technology with integrated grounds scale lets you know exactly how much coffee to add for your preferred strength, so you can recreate your favorite cup of coffee again and again. You can also set it to automatically brew, so you can either wake up to fresh coffee or have a cup waiting for you at the same time every day.
  • If you plan on heading out for your coffee break, be smart and mask up. Refined Raccoon Textiles created a coffee-themed mask for people who want to be socially responsible while indulging in their coffee addiction.

Even if having a sip of something strong or relaxing isn’t your thing, a break might be just what you need. “You might go for a walk, call a friend, or whatever helps you step away and refresh your mind,” adds Oakey.