I recently read this article by time management guru Laura Vanderkam about how we should all act more British.
She’s not talking about faking an accent, greeting your friends with a peppy “Cheerio!”, or eating tea and crumpets. No wait—she does say we should eat tea and crumpets!
Laura writes about how many British people observe afternoon tea time. Everything grinds to a halt and office workers, laborers, housewives, and even royalty break out the Earl Grey and take a breather.
I absolutely love the ritual of afternoon tea!
Of course I appreciate a warm drink and a yummy snack, but what’s even better is the fact that by taking an indulgent break in the afternoon I’m actually increasing my productivity.
I know that sounds totally fake like when my husband (who works for a video game company) tells me that playing Battlefield 3 for hours at a time is “research.”
But it’s true—purposefully taking a break and being unproductive for a short amount of time every afternoon will make you more productive for the last bit of your day.
You know how most of us hit that afternoon slump around 2:00 or 3:00? We get bored, tired, and start counting the minutes until quitting time.
We might quickly grab a candy bar from the vending machine or email a funny cat video to friend. And then we’ll feel guilty about goofing off instead of tackling our to-do lists.
Don’t feel guilty! But don’t half-ass your unproductive break either. Your afternoon tea time (or Starbucks run) should be purposeful.
Choose a specific time so you can look forward to it. Step away from your desk to prepare or pick up your drink and snack. Use real plates and cups; none of that cheapo disposable stuff. Talk to a friend. Walk around the block. Write out a gratitude list. Do your favorite meditation. Listen to a happy playlist.
The point is to make a conscious decision to put down your work and enjoy a moment of unproductivity. Is that a word? Well, I say it is now.
When your afternoon break is over, you’ll return to your tasks recharged and refocused. I often have my best ideas immediately after I come back from my afternoon break.
If you try to power through the afternoon without a break, you run the risk of making mistakes because you’re unfocused. You’re not a robot, and you deserve to honor yourself with a some self-care.
And don’t forget to raise your pinkie finger as you sip your tea.
“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.” Fyodor Dostoevsky. Tweet this!
In the comments below, let me know your favorite way to take an afternoon break.