As much as I harp on productivity and working hard, I recognize that everyone needs breaks. For those who are stuck in jobs they completely despise, it is even more imperative to take ample breaks. With discipline, the frequency and type of breaks can be reduced, but the fact remains that everyone needs a little time for their own stimulation or distraction every now and then. However, I do think there is a vast difference between taking breaks to escape from pain versus earned breaks that are the result of attained goals.
Make the Pain Stop!
When studying or working, many people (at some points myself included) want to take a break and watch some television, a movie, or play some video games in an effort to escape the pain that hard work causes.
This is how manageable amounts of work go unfinished and people have trouble getting things done the way they should. Introspection of these events after the fact usually shows a clearer picture – the studying or the work was hard and the stimulation from media sources was a great way to escape the mental pain that it caused.
From an evolutionary perspective, there might be a number of benefits in avoiding intense mental or physical strain that comes with studying and working. You will definitely burn fewer calories watching television than you would employing your brain to function for extended periods of time, so there is ample reason to believe your genetics prompt you to take these types of “breaks” (more like escapes). Of course, burning fewer calories has historically been a good thing for humans.
Earning Your Rest
I would consider earning your rest to be a decision of a higher consciousness. When I say earned breaks, I mean setting a specific goal that can only be attained through your work or studying, which will allow you to take a break, but only after a high threshold has been reached. This doesn’t have to mean rewarding yourself when you are successful, but rather, study or work X amount for many hours before taking only a Y minute break.
Another important caveat about breaks is what you do with this time. Try to incorporate breaks that are far more memorable and life changing rather than watching television shows, movies, or playing video games. Of course, the odd TV show or movie will not hurt, but find other things too.
For example, I made a deal with myself that if I was able to meet a certain monetary goal with my business for the past month, I would treat myself to something crazy – sky diving. Luckily, I earned my break and it was more than worth it!
Earning Something is Far More Enjoyable
When you earn the breaks that you take from working hard, they become far more enjoyable as well. Next time you have the desire to put your work aside and watch a quick TV show, opt to keep pushing through the pain, build your willpower muscle, and find some rest that can be totally life changing.