Taking breaks; The route path to increased productivity

From a neurological perspective it is simply not possible to maintain performance, focus and effective decision making without taking regular breaks. It is the cognitive equivalent of trying to use your phone for days on end without recharging or driving your car without any fuel. 

We all know this instinctively however that doesn’t always mean we act on it. As everyone adapts to working from home it seems that this is one of the biggest challenges people are facing. This is a consistent message I am hearing in the trainings I am delivering to companies at this time so am here to share my top 5 tips for building positive habits around taking breaks;

  • Write down all the benefits of taking breaks and all the drawbacks of not taking breaks.. Leave these somewhere you see regularly. You may even want to reread this each day.

  • Set an alarm for when your breaks will be or set another audio or visual reminder. These cues or primers will, with regular practice, become so natural to follow that less willpower will be required to follow through on our actions.

  • Decide now what one activity you will do in these breaks for the next week.. The break can be anything from 3-15 minutes long but be specific. A ‘break’ used to scroll through your phone messages or social media is ineffective and does not replenish psychological resources. Good options are mindfulness, making a social call, exercise, listening to music, walking or learning something new.

  • See it as a challenge. Most of us don’t take breaks as we want to finish ‘that’ email or task before doing so. Suddenly the day seems to have disappeared.. It helps to consider it a challenge to sit with the discomfort not finishing everything and to be ok with that.. This is based on ACT coaching and can be adapted to many areas of our life.

  • Have some self-compassion when you don’t take a break that you planned to.. Rather than give yourself the extra stress of being down on yourself, just accept it and try again tomorrow.. Consider what stopped you today and how you can overcome this tomorrow. This growth mindset is essential to build positive habits for long-term results.

If you are looking for some more inspiration here are some resources from Harvard Business Review to support you on your way to your goal of productivity, performance and satisfaction.



Scroll to Top