By all means, the more work you do, the more valuable you are to the organization you work for, but there are of course limits. There comes a time when the extra work you are doing detracts from the quality of work you could get done.

Comparing workplace burnout rates in a survey by Indeed from the pre-pandemic period to that of now, 9% more people are feeling regularly burned-out at their place of work, bringing the total up to 52%.

Why Is It Difficult to Take Breaks?

Taking free time can seem impossible and un-important given all the stress and go-go-go you have in your life. Doing something that your brain has designated as 'not productive', it is hard to help yourself from the inevitable self-made pressure to get busy with something that provides direct value.

Your difficulty taking breaks could be connected with your workplace demeanor. Staying competitive and on top of things at work might require you to put in extra hours at home and continuously be available.

Free time often also carries some shame that could be associated with how you learned to coop with your ADHD. Comments from family, teachers and co-workers in the past may have pushed you along the path of an over-worker.

Why Is Free Time Healthy?

  1. It helps in maintaining your momentum. Burnout is something that has effected 70% of all people in the workplace and it can be extremely disruptive for your work life. Building free time and hobbies into your life can help you maintain your working momentum throughout the year. A year of work is a marathon and you should make sure to pace yourself so you can reach the end. That is what free time allows you to do, time away now will help you get another week of work further into the year.
  2. It does not need to be idle (although there is nothing wrong if it is), you can spend that time off learning a new skill. You would be surprised in the many new things you can learn in cooking, camping, or gardening that are applicable in other fields. With your mind off of work, you might even come back with a brand new idea from a whole new perspective.
  3. It induces a positive type of stress, called eustress: a type of stress that’s stimulating, engaging, and gets you into a state of flow- that helps you get lost in time and forget about your negative stressors for awhile. Eustress can help you replenish your energy and motivation. Taking a step back from work for a little walk, jog, journal, log sit or playing an instrument can positively impact your mental health.
  4. It helps with emotional regulation and stress. In the constant cycle of the work week, you could be facing problem after problem or just one big obstacle. Facing these without breaks you can get yourself into a negative pattern of over-thinking and anxiety. The best thing to do in these situations is not "work harder" or "put more time in", it is actually best to break the cycle and take some time off.
  5. It can enrich your social network. Pursuing new hobbies or activities that interest you often means you find new communities and friends with shared interests and values. The larger your social network becomes the more secure and less stressed you are on average. Solo hobbies are always fun of course but try looking into some that force you to branch out!

Adding Free Time To Your Routines

Adding free time into any routine you create that is longer than an hour is a great way to begin. Free time can be any where between 5 minutes to a whole week off.

At work you can go for walk around the build,  grab some water, sit on a bench in the park with some coffee, read the news or head to the break room for a quick chat with a friend.

At home you can go for a jog, sit in nature, call a friend, work on a new hobby, write, read and so much more.

As a reward, free time an be incredible. Promising yourself an hour of free time after a good two to three hours of structured work will motivate you to start and make the most of your time.

In Brili, here is a tip for how you can add free time as a reward. If you set a desired 'end time' for your routine and add a 'free time task' at the end, completing all you tasks early up until the end will automatically provide you with more time in you 'free time task'. Let us know if you end up trying this!