Take a break

I’m reading a new book by Daniel Pink, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. The chapter on the importance of taking breaks caught my eye because I’m so bad at taking breaks!

Pink reviewed dozens of studies and swears you’ll be more productive by taking breaks that are:

  • Short and frequent
  • Moving v. stationary
  • Social v. solo
  • Outside v. inside 
  • Fully detached v. walking while texting or talking on the phone

He describes the perfect break:

You’re dressed for the weather as you head outside for one of several breaks today with a friend. You don’t talk about work. and you don’t multi-task. You come back to your work with renewed focus and good energy.

If you want to test how effective breaks are, start tracking your most productive times during the day over the course of a week. We all have natural times when we work better – mornings, afternoons, or evenings. And we have some work that energizes us way more than other work. That’s why you need a week or so to be able to find a pattern for your peak times and low energy times.

After a good week of tracking, start a fresh week inserting a break before times where you tend to have low energy and track what that does to your productivity. It’s weird to think that by working less we can get more done, but I’m willing to try it if you are!

In the theater, you often hear “Break a leg.” For this week, let’s go with “break a habit.” 🙂 I really like working in long stretches of time v. taking a lot of breaks. I’ll let you know how this goes.

Happy August!

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6 thoughts on “Take a break

  1. I work in spurts, and never know when they’ll come. Slowing down has helped. Retirement gives me choices. I think I’ll see if I can keep track of my spurts!! Thanks.


  2. This is so funny! Just went back to email in order to send in the course I’ve been working on – 10 days ahead of deadline, thank you! And I pull up your blog telling me to Take a Break. Looked at the clock and realized I have been working straight since 12:15 – over 4 hours!! So – I’m breaking ………….. Mom


    • I do the same thing. Thanks so much for that DNA! The idea of stopping in the middle of something is very hard for me. I just want to keep going until I’m finished – which is great if I’m out for a run, but not so good when I’m working on something that takes days or weeks to finish :). Nice job on your deadline, however. Love that!!


  3. I’m blaming it on procrastination… If I’ve finally managed to tackle something, I have a mindset that says, “Well you’d better stick to it and get it done ’cause god only knows when you’re going to be inspired again.” I think my habits need several layers of re-examination.


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