The Importance of Knowing When to Take a Break


The Importance of Knowing When to Take a Break


For the last fortnight, two tradesmen have been working tirelessly to convert a space in my house.

In his late 20’s, our builder is exceptional. He has built his business from scratch and delivered a consistently high standard of work that has earned him multiple five star reviews online. He is an excellent project manager and is knowledgeable on all aspects of building. He has worked so hard on our project, putting in 10 hour days, working on Saturdays and more days than scheduled to ensure the finish is of the highest quality.

However, I also appreciate his honest approach to work. He recognises when he needs to stop, he understands that if he pushes himself to work ‘just another hour to get the job finished’ after a long day, that his tiredness could lead to him making mistakes or not quite achieving the finish he could -  if only he was well rested.

As clients, it results in a minor delay to us of half a day, but we are really happy to accept that in order to give our builder the best run at delivering a high quality finish.

When the completion of a project is in sight, it’s tempting to push on, partly out of excitement to see the project completed - but sometimes due to time pressures or a deadline. However, if time allows, this is just the right time to reflect on whether you have the right energy levels, concentration and direction to deliver your best work.

If the answer isn’t 100%... then consider taking a break, or coming back to it the following morning with a fresh motivation and energy.

As makers, we pride ourselves on the quality and accuracy of the pieces we craft. It’s easy to become distracted by the schedules and targets, but we must also remember that if we get tired, we become less productive and mistakes can start to creep in.

Taking breaks replenishes your mental resources, refreshes the mind and boosts creativity and reasoning – breaks are correlated with increased engagement and productivity. 

Ask yourself if you could achieve the same amount in 30 minutes fresh to a task, than in one hour at the end of a long day?

Breaks are important for your physical and emotional health, to prevent decision fatigue, restore motivation, improve learning and increase productivity and creativity – make sure you take enough of them throughout your day!

And if you are up against a deadline and can’t take a break?

Consider switching tasks if it is not disruptive to your work process.

If you are struggling on a particular project component or making process, is there another part of the project that you could get on with to provide a mental break from your current task?

Allowing for breaks and good scheduling are areas that we work closely with students on here at Williams and Cleal.

Our tutors teach students how to best forecast the duration of the design and making process, and they demonstrate how to produce written schedules of work, ensuring students stay on track throughout their project.

With realistic planning, our students have the practical and creative space to produce their finest work.