What Can You Do with a 10 Minute Break?

Posted 06.22.2011

Timer1 Today’s post is short and sweet as I have about 10 minutes before they shut the door on my plane.  Which raises the question, “What can you do with a 10 minute break?”

That question is on my mind because I spent a good part of yesterday talking with rising executives in our group coaching program about how being so racked and stacked on their calendars leaves them with very little time to think ahead, reflect back or just recharge.

I’ve written here before about the running-flat-out-until-you-crash syndrome that so many leaders are caught up in these days. It’s a big problem, but the good news is it doesn’t take as much time as you might think to sneak in a break. If you think about your typical day, you probably have two or three 10 minute interludes between meetings or conversations. What do you do with them? Answer more emails or recharge your batteries?

My hope is it’s the latter.  Looking for ideas on what to do in a 10 minute break?  Here’s a list of 10 ideas.

And here’s an 11th idea from a leader in the group coaching session yesterday.  Look for the laughter. When we were talking about taking breaks yesterday, this client said he listens for the laughter and walks toward it.  For him, it really is the best medicine.

His comment reminded me of an article I read recently in the New York Times, “What to Say to Someone Who is Sick.”   The idea that really caught my eye was asking:

WOULD YOU LIKE SOME GOSSIP? One surefire tip: a slight change of topic goes a long way. Patients are often sick of talking about their illness. We have to do that with our doctors, nurses and insurance henchmen. By all means, follow the lead of the individual, but sometimes ignoring the elephant in the room is just the right medicine. Even someone recovering from surgery has an opinion about the starlet’s affair, the underdog in the playoffs or the big election around the corner. “

The principle is the same as walking toward the laughter. The goal in any break is to get your mind off of what’s been on your mind.  Any disruption in what you’ve been thinking about will help with that.

What do you like to do with a 10 minute break?