Taking Breaks Can Help You Get More Done

Posted by on Apr 20, 2012 in Career Management | 18 comments

Think you’re too busy to take breaks? Think again! Breaks are important to creating balance in your work-life, sparking creativity and innovation, and nurturing good health. I know because I take regular breaks.

What happened when I stopped taking breaks.

I have a habit of taking a break every workday and going for a short walk. The fresh air rejuvinates and relaxes me, and I gain clarity and focus. Despite this good habit, I recently found myself skipping my daily walk in order to get more done.

Every day I skipped my break it seemed taking a break was less and less necessary. I was doing great- except I wasn’t really. I was forgetting important details and it was taking me longer than usual to accomplish ordinary tasks.

On Monday I found myself less frenzied- less busy- and I decided to take my normal walk I’d been missing out on the last few weeks. As I walked I felt my tension drain away, along with many distractions I’d been carrying around with me. As I walked I realized I had completely forgotten about an important deadline quickly approaching! Fortunately I had time to complete my reports and turn them in by the deadline.

I only took a break that day because I thought I didn’t have anything due when the opposite was true, but if I hadn’t taken a break that morning I might have missed my deadline by not taking breaks because I wasn’t allowing myself the opportunity to refresh and re-energize my body and mind.

Taking breaks will help you get more done- really!

  • Taking breaks increases productivity and efficiency.
  • Switching focus from one project to a leisure activity sparks creative problem solving and innovation.
  • Breaks reduce physical and mental stress.
  • Taking breaks allows us to see to our basic physical needs.
  • Breaks improve physical health such as reducing eye, back, neck and shoulder strain.

Oh, and breaks won’t just help you get more done, they also promote happiness. Don’t believe me? Read on for some fun break suggestions, try a few, and notice feeling lighter, more rested, and happier overall.

Image courtesy of Crisologo

Enjoy a break today!

  • Go for a walk.
  • Get a drink of water.
  • Grab a healthy snack.
  • Roll your shoulders back.
  • Take 3 deep breaths.
  • Unglue your eyes from the computer and refocus them elsewhere (go ahead, I’ll wait!)
  • Read a magazine.
  • Stop what you’re doing and smile for no reason.
  • Wiggle your toes.
  • Play Words With Friends.
  • Catch up with a friend.
  • Take a power nap.
  • Do nothing for 5 minutes!

Nobody really wants to work for the weekend- at least I don’t! Maintaining work-life balance helps me get more done and feel happier about life. No excuses- if I want a great life and great success I have to take regular breaks. I schedule breaks on my Outlook calendar the maximum benefit.

Breaks can take take anywhere from 1 to 15 minutes. What you do is up to you. Just take a break and enjoy it!

I love your comments! Do you take regular breaks? Does it help you get more done? What are your favorite activities when you take a break?

18 Comments

  1. Hi Chrysta,
    I appreciate taking breaks at work through the day. If my mind is in a creative funk, a cup of coffee is the cure. I’m working to control my perfectionism. I often find myself overdoing it at home because of this way of thinking. My mind tells me that if I just sit around, I’m lazy. Sometimes I don’t stop, and am very sorry as I lay awake in bed for hours with my mind racing. Your site helped me reason on this. I need to stop before activities waste my time, and give me a headache. My energy limitations due to health problems don’t mean I’m lazy, that’s all my body has to offer!

  2. Great post, but I think the way you say exactly the same “Thanks for your awesome comment, (name)!” is pretty boring and unoriginal. Maybe you should change that.

    • I appreciate your feedback, Daniel. I personally like being thanked for being awesome, and I truly find 99.9% of my comments awesome! Still, a different perspective is always good and maybe I’ll change things up one day soon.

      Have a grateful, inspired, and original day!

      Chrysta

  3. Completely agree, Chrysta!

    I remember writing a post on the importance of taking breaks (but I never wrote on what we should do). Anyways, I am glad that you filled in the gap. You are right. Breaks do help us a lot. I remember taking a long break (with my old blog) and starting back, it was refreshing, I had new perspectives and new ideas to share.

    My breaks change according to whether I have class or not. Right now, I have summer vacation so, my break is practicing basketball and watching movies/cartoons. The former is good for health and mind, while the latter refreshes my mind and gives me ideas to think about.

    Thanks for the post, Chrysta!

    Hope to read more,

    Jeevan

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Jeevan!

      I’m glad to hear taking breaks has been helpful for you, as well. I can only write about what I know and for me, breaks are essential.

      I love that you brought up long term breaks, too. Sometimes we need a longer term break from activities in our life- such as your break from blogging. Taking a break isn’t laziness or failure, sometimes it’s a necessary recharging of creativity and inspiration!

      Thanks for joining the conversation. Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

      • People have a different opinion about long term breaks, I guess that is right, because it is really hard to get back to what we were doing, after taking a long break. I did take a long break during my first year with blogging. It took me a while to get back to my blog after not blogging for 2-3 months. But, it was great; I got new topics and perspectives to think about.

  4. I totally agree with you, when you take a break from work you let your brain calm down and it almost reboots itself which will mean that when you go back to work everything is fresh. Thank you for sharing this great post i would really like to show it to a few people.

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Andrew!

      Like you, I am far more likely to come up with creative solutions when I address a problem with a fresh perspective. Taking breaks absolutely helps me clear my head and come back fresh!

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  5. I agree with you Chrysta!

    I’ve found that I stay much more focused on the work that I have to do when I take short breaks. I can concentrate much better and you are right, you feel much more refreshed.

    I don’t take my walks until the evening so that’s not really a break in my day. Sometimes I come back and finish work I have to do like now. But it’s much cooler in the evenings here and it’s just so refreshing.

    Thanks for pointing out to everyone why breaks are so important because they really can help you focus so that you can get more done. At least for me.

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Adrienne! I appreciate hearing from others that have experienced the benefits of taking breaks- whatever you choose to do during your break.

      If Colorado were as warm as Texas I’d probably wait until evenings to take walks, too. Even on warm days it’s usually not too hot when I usually take my morning walk. :)

      Thanks for joining the conversation! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  6. Love it, Chrysta!!

    I’ve definitely found that when I take a break – I come back refreshed and renewed. And it doesn’t have to be much of a break to really make a difference – just a couple of minutes can be all it takes! (although a nice long walk sounds pretty nice, too!)

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Lance! I agree- even a short 5 minute break can be a great benefit. I find taking even 2 or 3 minutes can do wonders to reduce eye strain and relieve headaches. I’m not likely to give up my walks soon, though- I’ll keep doing a little of both!

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  7. that’s so right Chrysta
    the more you overwhelm yourself the less productive you will be
    thank you

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Farouk! Lovely to see you, as always.

      You bring up such a great point about getting overwhelmed and therefore less productive. The thing about becoming overwhelmed is it happens a little at a time, not all at once- and that’s where taking breaks comes in. Taking regular breaks can help minimize the possibility of getting overwhelmed.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  8. I couldn’t agree more about taking breaks. For most days, I work really hard and push myself to a point to where getting a break in is absolutely necessary. In fact, I also take a lot of walks when I take those breaks. There’s a great walking path near me that flows along the river. It’s great to get out. Plus, it helps me think.

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Steve! My apologies for the delayed reply- I have been dealing with an urgent family situation.

      The path near you sounds absolutely lovely and I can imagine how calming it would be to walk along a river every day. I, too, work hard and taking breaks is absolutely necessary when I am challenging myself.

      Thanks again for joining the conversation! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  9. So true! The ‘do nothing for 5 minutes’ trick works like magic for me :)

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Cindy! I apologize for not replying sooner- I was dealing with an urgent family situation.

      Doing nothing for 5 minutes is sometimes quite challenging for me- I usually prefer my breaks to be more active. That said, I know doing nothing for 5 minutes is oh-so-good for me and I’m getting better at mixing up my breaks to make the best of life.

      Thanks again for joining the conversation! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

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