The Secret to Productivity? Recess Time!


In an effort to promote health and wellness in the office, it’s vital to enjoy yourself OUT of the office.  Today’s guest blog by Erica Duncan reminds us about the importance of recess! 

A group of kids playing during recess at school playground

“It’s time for recess!” my teacher declared, standing up and directing us to line up at the door.  The second those words came out of Ms. Ledbetter’s mouth, the energy of the classroom would shift.  We would chatter excitedly about whose turn it was to be “it” in tag or negotiate who would get first dibs on the swings.  Then the classroom doors would open and we would peel out onto the playground laughing, yelling and not looking back.

When I was young, recess was always a highlight of my day (like most children). Growing up in Richmond, Virginia, the air was fresh, the scenery was green, and I was able to release all of my pent up energy.  Nowadays, nobody stands up at work and declares “Recess!”  But in thinking about how beneficial spending 30 minutes outside was when I was younger, perhaps someone should.

My adult life is very much indoors juggling my desk job and start-up business with a to-do list that is as long as I am tall.  Moreover, my work colleagues don’t exit the building en masse to engage in a little outdoor fun.  (At best, we schedule time to go to the gym, but it’s not the same).  And yet awhile back I took some time to walk outside.  I was mentally blocked on a particularly challenging project and found myself growing more and more frustrated trying to struggle through it.  The sun was shining (rare for London), there was a nice breeze, and I eventually said to myself “Screw it, I’m going outside.”

Feeling a bit naughty, I pulled on my tennis shoes in the middle of the afternoon and practically bolted out of the door.  Taking in a deep breath, I was immediately drawn back to my childhood days when Ms. Ledbetter would declare “It’s time for recess!”  I thought about how amazing it used to feel running and jumping and playing outside.  I felt the breeze on my skin and looked up to towards the sun to feel her warmth on my face.  I walked towards the Thames and allowed myself to simply enjoy the feeling of escaping the confines of the office, if only for 20 minutes.  I then drew a connection that I lost so many years ago.  As a kid, recess was a way of escaping so that I could return to class more focused.  Of course this wasn’t a conscious connection but something most assuredly felt on a subconscious level.

Nothing has changed between then and now except my reaction to how I sometimes approach the fact that my brain and body yearn for a break.  Instead of going outside when challenged by heady topics, I fight through it.  Instead of just going outside when I feel as if I’m going to jump out of my skin, I scold myself for feeling that way and try to get back to the task at hand.  Somewhere along the way, I forgot the importance of having recess and have been raining on my own parade.

How about you?  Do you give yourself permission to escape your desk, cubicle or office and allow yourself to just be?  When’s the last time you declared “Recess!”, pulled on your tennis shoes and went outside in the afternoon for a little fun?  As busy as you are, you owe it to yourself to get out and enjoy the fresh air on a regular basis. Okay, so maybe you feel uncomfortable running around and screaming at the top of your lungs (I don’t blame you).  Even taking a brisk walk yields great benefits and you won’t look crazy doing it.  Or bring a Frisbee and ask a friend to join you.   If you need a little motivation, just cut out the below and put it somewhere where you will see it every day.  I did and I’m getting better at it.  So let’s go outside and play! Tag you’re it!

Erica Duncan is a tax lawyer-turned-entrepreneur. She founded The Travel Analyst, LLC in 2013, she organizes customized trips for time-crunched professionals.  She is passionate about helping people make the most of their time when they are out of the office!  To get onto her mailing list, click here.

Like what you just read?  Make sure to share it with your friends and colleagues on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn!  And please tell us how you spend your recess time in the comment section!

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Vivienne & Andrew, PBE Co-Founders

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