If you weren’t already familiar with the work from home (WFH) lifestyle before the coronavirus pandemic hit, you might have had a rude awakening when suddenly your living room doubled as your meeting room. Though it can be hard to stay motivated when you’re away from your usual office setting, if you’re not careful, your workdays can become longer than ever before. And despite these long hours, taking a break seems more implausible than ever because you worry it’ll extend your long day, curb your productivity completely, or make you come across as lazy.
Consider this conundrum your warm welcome to the plight many freelancers—who work from home and on schedules of their own making—have long lived. But, good news: Many of these remote-working vets have eccentric work break ideas to share that keep their minds fresh and the work flowing.
If you’re still in need of work break ideas that’ll actually help you clear your head, you’re in luck. We asked workers who are longtime WFH pros for their best tips that add variety to their day.
Below, find 10 non-traditional work break ideas from workers who aren’t new to the WFH life.
1. Jump on a trampoline for 15 minutes
“I read that jumping on a trampoline for 15 minutes is equal to going on a one hour jog. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but jumping is certainly a lot more fun.”
—Tiffany White, writer and web designer
“For me its bird-watching. I’m in Connecticut, and there’s a hawk that lives in our backyard who basically feels like family at this point.”
—Dylan Grace Essertier, travel writer and coach
3. Take a dance class
“I’ve been working from home for about four years. I’ve always liked to take work breaks from my computer to do something physical, and usually I try to break up my day in chunks of more cerebral time, and then more physical time.
“I’ve been using a website called Dancing Alone Together which lists tons of dance classes online on different platforms, and I try to do like three-to-five a day, even if I just do 15 to 20 minutes to switch up what I’m doing.”
—Anne Louise Burdett, co-founder of sexual health company TOCA Botanica
4. Change your perspective
“There was a time when I used to turn upside down—literally—for breaks. I’d use a wall and do a headstand against it to change my perspective. Not recommended for just after a latte.”
—Vibeke Vatne, entrepreneur
5. Put on a face mask, turn off notifications, and play with your cat
“I’ve been WFH for 3-plus years. Pre-pandemic, I still went into [Manhattan from Brooklyn, New York] once a week for meetings and events, but I worked from home as often as possible. Now with lockdown, events and meetings are obviously at a standstill, so I have adjusted my habits to fit the new demands of my day. I used to do at-home face masks after particularly stressful days; now they’ve become a way to break up a long day mid-afternoon. I’ve also made a lot more use of the “Do Not Disturb” setting on my phone—anytime I need to focus or unplug, I tap that little half moon like its my damn job.
“The biggest blessing I have in my breaks is my ultra-needy cat, who’s convinced I’ve been staying home more to cater to his every whim. Usually he would jump on me for a snuggle daily around 2 p.m.—he’s had this habit since I started working from home—now he’s a 1 p.m, 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. cuddler. It’s one of the few things to brighten my day.”
—Melissa Vitale, publicist
6. Get jiggy with it
“These days, I either work on a 2,000 piece puzzle to clear my mind or I turn up my music to get in a few dance moves around my loft. Both options reset my mood and get me recharged for the next half of the day.”
—Darlynn Bailey, holistic health practitioner
7. Take a trip—even if down the block
“I like to take trips on my break, like walk to the store and back, or watch a 20-minute episode of a show. Sometimes, phone calls are the best breaks, too.”
—Rachel Powell-Cohen, graphic designer and illustrator
8. Take a video-game break
“My WFH breaks look like a dance break or a video-game break. Since I’m sedentary for most of the day, I decided to invest in a Fitbit Inspire, which prompts me to take 250 steps every hour. So I put on a song that gets me moving and I go for it just to get my steps in.
“If my mind feels like it’s on the fritz, I do something fun like playing video games for 30 minutes. It definitely boosts my morale.”
“If my mind feels like it’s on the fritz, I do something fun like playing video games for 30 minutes. It definitely boosts my morale, and I look forward to getting back to it once I am done with all my work.”
—Michelle Heng, co-founder and CEO of Everlaunch
9. Catch up on your news and stars
“I read all the news outlets and then compare headlines to see how different news outlets present information. I also take breaks by studying up on astrology.”
—Andrea Karo, film and TV editor
10. Shift your afterwork leisure to break time
“At the end of the day, I [generally] destress by making dinner. Now, I find myself shifting after-work activities to midday breaks—making a healthy, energizing lunch, electric scooter rides, plant nurturing on my fire escape, and moving my caffeine fix from first thing in the a.m. to afternoon. All these which require zero video or screen time and my eyes have been very thankful.”
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