A particularly stressful day at work and a wonderful idea from a colleague led me to a daytime adventure. I was in the middle of a major event planning, attending calls and writing checklists like there is no tomorrow, while thinking of creative ideas and running around meeting people at the same time. On my way to a meeting, I bumped into this colleague at the pantry. She was having a relatively relaxed day, looking at my frazzled self, and caring enough, offered me an escape. Her idea was an outing, which meant taking half the day off. I was just two years into the first job, taking in new responsibilities and as preposterous as it sounded, I reluctantly accepted her offer.
We took an auto and drove to Sankey Tank. For the uninitiated or for those not from Bangalore, this is a lovely lake near a sound residential area with a few high-end shopping places and restaurants. Back then, you could even take boat rides there.
Mostly silent on a workday, I got out of the auto into the fresh, sunny, breezy day. The openness of the place urged a hum out of my epiglottis,
On a day like today
Ya never wanna see the sun go down
With Bryan Adams crooning just for me inside my head, my stress dissipating one particle at a time, in thin air, I was suddenly carefree. We took two tickets for the boat ride, literally threw our heels and without even a (sun) care we got in the boat. The sound of the paddles as they hit the water, the warmth of the sun, the special smell of stagnant water – the oneness with nature in a hectic city life.
We went for a barefoot stroll in the grass for a while, chatting up only after we got down from the boat. Picking up an appetite and our shoes, we went to a Chinese restaurant and had a wonderful meal over some laughs and guffaws. We went back to work, feeling as fresh as the morning air and completely invigorated. I did not know it, but that little break was precisely what I needed.
Sometimes it is unreasonable to walk out of office especially with meetings lined up or a deadline to catch. But can we take a break when we are at the helm of it all?
Have you heard the saying, ‘on a bad day, there is always lipstick’? As frivolous and vain as it sounds, it implies the little pleasures, the smallest things that make us happy or give us that miniature break. I can list down ‘escapes’ that are possible when we are in the middle of a busy schedule and they work for almost everyone. They take less than 15 minutes sometimes and help you refresh.
Breakaway on a busy day!
- Stroll around the building or the block
- Walk over to a different floor and chat up with colleague for a future story
- Chat over coffee on topics unrelated to work
- Read an article – not news (I like astronomy, trends which I store in an app)
- Write pointers for your next article
- Write your private/personal to-dos
- Write down creative ideas for possible future use
- Add stuff to your bucket list
- Declutter your desk
- Clean your bag
- Clean up your calendar/mailbox
- Take pictures of the visiting cards and store them
- Throw those bills
- Throw redundant lists/post-it notes
- Water your plants
- Fill your water bottles
- Take your team meeting to the Café
- Take any meeting to the Café
On very stressful days some of my most productive colleagues like to make calls to their favourite people, take a nap in the sleep room or just browse silly nothings on their phones. Everyone has their own ‘little sunshines’, perhaps making a list of them could be one too, the next time you identify a need for a break in an especially busy day.
Coming back to my first trip to Sankey Tank, I won’t say that I went back to being more creative or more productive – I was hired for those two qualities afterall ;). However, I discovered a way to take a break, to refresh and rejuvenate, even on the busiest of days, in the most swarming of cities and especially on those days when ‘taking a break’ seems like an impossible dream.
And of course I discovered a great friend and we’ve been that way for over a decade now.