The Benefits of Breaks


“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” – Ovid

Today’s society has us convinced that we always need be busy. Did you know that only one in three workers actually step away from their desk to take a lunch? You and your boss might view this as a good thing; hard work brings success, right?

Well, not necessarily. The key to success is balance. Without balance, it’s difficult to be productive. 

The easiest and most effective way to create balance and boost productivity is to take time for yourself. Sound counterintuitive? It most definitely isn’t! In fact, studies show that performance increases after taking a break, regardless of the duration. Taking breaks gives us time to replenish our energy before we revisit our task lists. Breaks allow us to return to our desks with a clear mind and sharper focus.

Breaks don’t need to span an entire lunch hour; in fact, taking “microbreaks”, anywhere between 30 seconds to five minutes, can be just as beneficial. Research shows that taking a microbreak can improve mental acuity by an average of 13%. And if you’re starting at a computer screen for hours at a time, taking just a 15-second break every 10 minutes reduces fatigue by 50%.

Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique? No, we’re not talking about pasta sauce. Crafted by Francesco Cirillo in 1992, the Pomodoro Technique was designed to be a simple personal time management system to help you get more done. He named the “Pomodoro” after a tomato-shaped timer he used to track his work as a university student. It’s a great tool meant to boost your productivity and help you power through distractions, while still allowing time to take short, frequent breaks to recharge.

So how does it work? It’s simple:

  1. Choose a task to be accomplished.

  2. Set the “Pomodoro” (or any timer) to 25 minutes.

  3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings.

  4. Take a short break (the technique recommends a 5-minute break between tasks).

  5. Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break (usually 15-30 minutes).

Give the Pomodoro Technique a shot! There are a ton of websites and apps that offer online timers specifically geared towards the Pomodoro Technique.
Here’s one I find particularly useful. If you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to take a breather throughout the day, you’re more prone to burnout. So sit back, relax, and take a break.