Albus Dumbledore and the Art of the Magical Microbreak
Albus Dumbledore has a lot of stress on his plate. He’s headmaster of a prestigious magical school, is the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, and fights Lord Voldemort in the meantime. How does he do it all? Dumbledore’s workload would be enough to drive the average witch or wizard mad. I can’t imagine Dumbledore has a lot of time to practice self-care.
I used to assume Dumbledore achieved his greatness through secret, complicated magic. That, or I believed he was actually driving himself insane. There’s evidence that makes a convincing case. For example, Dumbledore’s speech at Harry’s first welcoming feast assured me that this dude might have a few screws loose. What does “Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” mean? I always assumed we were to regard Dumbledore as a sort of mad scientist figure.
This assumption lasted until I listened to a recent episode of my favorite podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. In the episode “Skepticism: Will and Won’t (Book 6, Chapter 3),” hosts Casper and Vanessa introduced me to a new perspective of Dumbledore’s ways. All of Dumbledore’s bizarre behavior, they suggest, might be his strategy to stay productive. Throughout Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts, Dumbledore models the art of taking microbreaks.
What Is a Microbreak?
The term “microbreak” has shown up in conversation around professional productivity for years now. Simply put, microbreaks are breaks you take at work that only last a few minutes. If you Google “microbreak,” you’ll find a bunch of articles that say taking tiny breaks this way can seriously boost your productivity. These breaks don’t replace traditional hour- or half-hour-long breaks. Instead, microbreaks sprinkle little moments of escape in the day-to-day workplace grind.
For Muggles, this might look like drinking a glass of water, checking text messages, or stretching after completing an hour or so of work. For Dumbledore, microbreaks become magical through humor and absurdity.
Hogwarts: A Microbreak Paradise
Dumbledore creates a culture at Hogwarts that allows for a multitude of microbreaks. Am I supposed to believe that hiring Lockhart as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher wasn’t just one big opportunity to make the days interesting? Peeves is another great example of a chaotic figure Dumbledore keeps around to keep himself (and everyone else at Hogwarts) entertained. Watching teachers and students get pranked by a poltergeist all day would ease the strain of fighting the forces of evil.
At times, Dumbledore’s microbreaks come at the expense of others. Microbreaks for Dumbledore can look like making everyone who wants to get into his office say silly candy names like “sherbert lemon” or “Fizzing Whizbee.” Other times, it looks like enchanting glasses to clink on the Dursleys’ heads until they drink from them. It’s clear that Dumbledore values a good practical joke. I believe that, through giving himself the opportunity to laugh at silly things regularly, Dumbledore is able to handle dealing with some pretty dark stuff.
Dumbledore has found and perfected a brilliant strategy for managing hectic moments in his career. What’s better is that anyone can practice it. You don’t have to be a comedian to bring silliness into your day-to-day life.