The Importance of Taking Work Breaks for Productivity

Being productive doesn’t mean you have to be working all the time. You don’t always have to be "on your grind" or "hustling."
Work break
Image source: Pixabay
If anything, productivity involves intuitively taking frequent breaks from work throughout your day. However, taking breaks may be harder for some, especially for those that are already struggling with establishing a healthy work-life balance. Once you get the hang of it though, you’ll find that these breaks are essential to not only your work life, but your personal life and even your health.
Why Taking Work Breaks is Crucial for Productivity
Many desk workers spend a lot of time looking at a screen during the day. Whether it be computers, phones, or tablets, these devices may capture the attention of most desk workers until they finish the task at hand.

But too much screen time can cause digital overload. Trying to process a slew of online information can lead to eye strain, trouble sleeping, mental fatigue, and increased stress levels — none of which inspire productivity.

Taking more breaks throughout your day can help you break up your screen time. In turn, breaks will mitigate the adverse effects of digital overload, and increase your work efficiency.

In addition, breaks may help those struggling with a work-life balance. For example, if you’re regularly skipping breaks or working later than normal to complete tasks, you may be doing more harm than good. This cycle may be especially easy to slip into if you’re a remote worker. After all, you’re already at home, so you would assume you’re naturally more relaxed, and therefore, in less need of a break, right?

Unfortunately, postponing your breaks, especially if you’re a remote worker, can be detrimental to your health. You may exacerbate mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, increase your risk for metabolic syndrome, and cause tension headaches.
How to Incorporate More Work Breaks Throughout Your Day
By incorporating more work breaks throughout the day, you can preserve your health, maintain your focus and concentration, remain enthusiastic about your job responsibilities, and log off when needed.

With these benefits in mind, let’s take a look at some tips on getting started with meaningful effort.
Learn To Manage Your Time Better
Many of us feel like we don’t have time to take breaks. We’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it. However, this may assumption may simply be an illusion.

We have more than enough time to take breaks throughout our day. We just aren’t paying enough attention to how we use our time. If you can learn to manage your time better, you can incorporate as many breaks as you need to ensure you’re doing your best work.

Each morning, determine your tasks for the day. Next, estimate how much time you will take to complete each task. Then, you can designate time blocks for each project and schedule breaks and lunch in between those time blocks.
Use Productivity Tools to Schedule Your Breaks
Sometimes, blocking out your break time in your head isn’t sufficient enough. Instead, you’ll need something to help you visualize your breaks and take them.
Woman doing fitness outdoor
Image source: TIMEFLIP
The TIMEFLIP Tracker, for instance, is a great tool to assist you in incorporating more work breaks throughout your day. Connect it to the app and track how you spend your time each day. With this information, you can determine the best times to take breaks to boost your productivity.

Even if you have to fall back on your smartphone’s default alarm app to set specific break times, it’s better than not scheduling them.

By researching and experimenting with the right productivity tools, you’ll find one that fits your unique personality and needs that will work as a permanent solution.
Completely Unplug From Work
One of the biggest goals you should hold when taking a break is to break free from your obsession with work. The whole point of a work break is to detach yourself from work for the length of the break so that you can come back to your responsibilities with a fresh mind and renewed motivation.

So, pay attention to your thoughts and actions during the duration of your break. Forget about working lunches and taking calls during your 15 minutes. Instead, turn off your work brain and completely unplug from work for the length of your break.

In addition to completely unplugging from work during breaks, ensure you fill the time with activities that help you reset.
Do Activities That Help You Reset
Whether you’re taking a 15-minute break, a 30-minute lunch, or an extended work break, you must do activities that help you reset your mind and body. Even a five-minute break should be intentional.
Woman doing fitness outdoor
Image source: Pixabay
Activities that can help you reset before diving back into work include:

Take a nap;
Read a book;
Write in your journal;
Eat a nutritious meal;
Go on a nature walk;
Go to a yoga session;
Do 3-minute meditation;
Go to the gym for a session;
Go to a therapy session;
Participate in a mindfulness class;
Have a positive conversation with a loved one.

Whatever you choose to do during your break, be sure it facilitates rejuvenation. The more positive your breaks are for your mind, body, and spirit, the more inclined you’ll be to take them.
Strive for Consistency
The unfortunate reality of work breaks is that it will take some work to make them a consistent habit. Everything isn’t going to work out perfectly the first day, week, or month.

With this in mind, prepare for any outcome. Don’t get discouraged when you fall back into old habits. Don’t get down when your work breaks are choppy at first. Instead, push through the challenges and strive for consistency.

Reflect on how well you did with your breaks each day. Note what worked and what didn’t. Then, make adjustments each week until you find your groove.
Conclusion
Work breaks should be non-negotiable if you want to be as productive as possible in your role. Without breaks from work, you risk burning out and putting your health at risk. So, ensure your work breaks are meaningful and consistent, and you’ll be more productive than ever before.
Jori Hamilton
Author
Jori Hamilton is a writer from the Northwestern U.S. She covers topics including health and wellness, productivity, marketing, business, technology, politics, and women's rights.
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