Circuit Breakers – Cliché or Critical?

It is easy to hear terms become overused in workplaces, and they start to become cliché or even cringeworthy. Some examples I can think of include:

· Going forward…

· Segue…

· Think outside the box…

· In today’s world….

· Give it 110%…

· Push the envelope…

· Raise the bar…

· Blue sky thinking…

· Let’s circle back…

· Work Life Balance…

· Diversity…

Put your favourite (least favourite) in the comments box, I am sure there are plenty!

But is “circuit breakers” included in this cliché list? This list of well-known terms that have lost meaning in their overuse and just turn people off?

Or is this term one of the most critical?

In reality, a circuit breaker is an electrical safety device designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by an overcurrent or short circuit. However you know I am talking about the colloquial use of this term – something that interrupts a series of events, usually intentionally because they are developing in a harmful way.

We had them during the worst of the pandemic, a positive spin on the dreaded word “lockdown”. We have them in schools, commonly called ‘recess’ and the teachers’ favourite ‘term break’. We have them in the office, a lunch break or coffee break, and on most worksites they have “smoko” (strangely even when no one smokes).

My daughter had circuit breakers when she was little. She was a non-sleeper and the GP prescribed short-term doses of medication to try to break the constantly awake habit and get her sleeping again.

If you have the luxury of a large business budget, you might have the time and funds to have all kinds of circuit breakers in your workplace. Common ones are moving desks, doing a different task for a while, doing some training, masseurs and gyms in house, even just going for a walk or doing stretches at your desk.

I’ve seen speakers at events regularly ask people to stand up, talk to someone they don’t know, breathe, do minor yoga poses or even shout or laugh. And now many employers are giving their employees time to do some charity work, or providing rewards to their high achievers with extra time off from an hour, to a day or even a week.

Why are all these things so commonplace? No one ever argues about it. We all know that doing the same thing in the same way, at the same times, with the same methods will lead to boredom or burnout. And neither of those outcomes is good for you and your productivity.

It is easy to get caught up thinking you have to stay put in order to get stuff done. You promise yourself you will take a day off or change your processes or systems, or start walking at lunchtime, or buy a new office chair – after you finish this one project. But then the next thing becomes urgent and the circuit continues.

Is your productivity actually better by continuing? It doesn’t matter if you are self-employed or an employee you need to switch things up sometimes if you want to get good results. Possible options in your bid to break that circuit will be different for everyone, but even little things are vital.

Most people find a break from work is the best option. That’s why they provide annual leave after all. Use this time to break those thought habits. Do something different. Read something you wouldn’t normally read. Enrol in a short course, or a different exercise class. Take a bath instead of a shower. Change your routine. Wake up different parts of your brain and give it new things to process. It can help you with your normal tasks when you mix things up a bit.

Even in a coworking hub we have found that people quickly form habits. With dedicated desks people tend to choose their spot and stick to it. They may be in the same office for some time. Even hot-desking they will often find their space and go to it whenever it is free. But most coworking hubs will have options for you to move around. If desks and offices are full, put yourself on a waitlist or see if there is someone else who wants to change it up. Set up your workspace a little differently. Change the pen colour you use or your computer backgrounds.

And if you always work from a central office, maybe try hybrid work. If you always work from home, then try a coworking space or central workspace. A change of perspective can be a huge circuit breaker, either when you come back to work after time off, or until you can get the time off.

So to segue this discussion, in today’s world, you need to think outside the box if you are going to give 110%. So going forward, push the envelope and raise the bar! You know you need work life balance in order to do blue sky thinking. So let’s circle back to the topic, and bring some diversity to your thinking. It’s time for a circuit breaker, don’t you think?

Article provided by Platypus Coworking



Flexible Workspace Australia is the peak body for coworking and flexible workspace providers and partners across all cities and regions of Australia.


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