Three Ideas for Taking Better Breaks

Julie Shenkman
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"Keep your nose to the grindstone." "He who snoozes, loses." These are the types of aphorisms that are frequently slung around the workplace, sending the message that work breaks are for slackers and that constant work is required to stay afloat in the business world. Evidence shows, however, that taking breaks increases workers' productivity and creativity. Find out how to take better breaks during the work day.

Get Away From Your Work Space

Too many people take their work break or even their lunch break at their desk or other work space. Do not fall into this trap, which leaves you feeling tired and unrefreshed. Instead, take better breaks by detaching yourself from your work space, even just for a few minutes. Do not take calls, and do not respond to work requests. Try taking a walk around the building or around the block. Find a place to sit outside, and just let your mind drift as the sun shines on your face. Stretch to unkink those muscles that have been sitting for hours. You find that even a few minutes away from the work environment does wonders for you, letting you return to work unstressed and ready to be productive again.

Connect With People

Use your work break to connect to the world outside. If you have friends who work in nearby offices, make regular lunch dates with them to remind you that you have a vital life outside your work space. Use the time to network with people in similar companies, building pathways that might lead to your next job. Spend a little time outside the office with friends from work to get to know them as people in a different environment. Even running errands during work breaks gives you a chance to connect with people as you exchange pleasantries with the people behind the counter at the post office or dry cleaners. Take a moment to call or text your best friend, your kids or your significant other. Let taking breaks become a routine for a breath of fresh air for your soul as well as your body.

Do Something Completely Different

To restore your mind to productivity, let your work break truly be a real break from whatever you do on the job. If you spend your work day looking at a computer screen, then step away from your phone. Read a book instead, choosing a subject that has nothing to do with work. Even a chapter of a good novel gives you a visit to another world that acts like a mini-vacation for your mind. If your job keeps you on your feet all day, stop moving and just rest during your work break.

Everyone has a different drive and a different capacity for intense focus on work. However, all workers need work breaks in order to reassess, refocus and refresh their bodies and minds. Let your work breaks be true breaks so that you return to work after each break or lunchtime ready to be newly productive, creative and revitalized.


(Photo courtesy of Ambro /


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