wikiHow to Take Breaks at Work

Three Methods:Finding Time for BreaksChoosing the Best BreaksBenefiting From Your Breaks

Modern office workers are sometimes called "workaholics," working long hours and taking few breaks. Studies within the last few years have shown that skipping breaks or lunch can hamper productivity and even harm your health. There are a number of ways you can take breaks at work that help your concentration, physical fitness and mood. Employers have even caught on to the benefits of frequent "micro-breaks." If you want to learn to make the most out of your break time, there are a number of activities you can try.

Method 1
Finding Time for Breaks

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    Talk to your boss. If breaks aren't common in your workplace, you'll want to discuss the idea with your boss. Ask for a few minutes of her time, and explain why taking breaks is important to you. Explain the benefits, and tell her you wanted to let her know, in case she notices a change in your routine. Make sure to calmly and clearly state your needs. Hopefully, your boss will notice your increased productivity and encourage others to take breaks, too![1]
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    Schedule your breaks. Taking a break is essential for your health and your productivity. So it is important to make taking one a priority. Treat a break like you would treat any other item on your agenda. Put it on your calendar or to-do list for each day. By scheduling your breaks, you are more likely to take them. [2]
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    Make breaking a habit. In today's busy culture, breaks are not a priority for many people. But they are important, so take them regularly. Get in the habit of taking a short break every hour. You start to lose focus after 50 minutes of work, so get in a routine of stepping away from your desk for a few minutes each hour.[3]
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    Set a timer. When you're concentrating on a big project, you might forget to take a break. Technology can be very useful in reminding you to relax for a few minutes. There are several apps that you can download to your smart phone that will act as reminders. Choose your settings, and work away, knowing your phone will tell you when to stop.[4]
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    Find a break buddy. Enlist a work friend to take short breaks with you. Head down to the cafeteria for some tea, or take a quick walk around the block. Socializing is one of the best ways to refresh your brain and get you ready to make it through the rest of the workday.[5]
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    Be flexible. Scheduling your breaks is a great habit to form, but remember to be adaptable. If your boss wants you to meet with an important client during your regular coffee break, that's ok. Just move your break time to after your meeting. You'll be better able to relax then, anyway.

Method 2
Choosing the Best Breaks

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    Pick a good time. Mid-morning is the best time to take a significant break. Most people are ready for some type of pick-me-up by 10 or 11 a.m.Taking a break at this time will leave you refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your day.[6]
    • Be aware of your own needs. Just because most people need a break mid-morning, that doesn't mean that's right for you. If you are more inclined to need a break at 2 p.m., go for it.
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    Break often. Research indicates that frequent, short breaks are best. Humans need to recharge their batteries throughout the day, not just when their energy is completely depleted. So try taking several mini-breaks throughout the day.Take a minute to go refill your water bottle, or do a quick search for a fun new recipe to make for dinner.[7]
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    Choose a good activity. Your break activity should be something that you enjoy. You'll get the most mental benefits from your break if you are engaging in something that brings you pleasure. If you're a reader, try getting in a chapter of that great new novel over lunch. If you are an exercise enthusiast, see how many steps you can fit in during a 10 minute break.[8]
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    Take a mental break. In order to reset your mind, you need to step away from work. So walk away from your computer screen, and don't look at your phone. Try meditating with your eyes closed for a few minutes. Deep breaths are also very calming, and great for mental clarity.[9]
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    Get moving. Breaks are a great way to fit more physical activity into your day. If you have a desk job, it's especially important that you get up and move around at least once an hour. You'll be amazed at the mental benefits that go along with moving your body, too.[10]
    • There are a lot of ways you can exercise withing your office. Try marching in place or doing desk push-ups.
    • Be attentive to your neck and shoulders. Hunching over your desk can cause a lot of muscle tension. Take care to do shoulder and neck rolls throughout the day.
    • Be innovative. Consider replacing your desk chair with a stability ball, or try a standing work desk.

Method 3
Benefiting From Your Breaks

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    Increase productivity. Taking a break will actually make you a better worker. If you take regular breaks to clear your mind, you will be fresher and more productive. Your break will mean that you actually work faster and better. Daydreaming or having trouble focusing is a sign that you need to take a break. When you come back, you'll be ready to tackle your project.[11]
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    Eat lunch. Many Americans are skipping lunch in order to fit in more time at work. This is actually counterproductive. If you skip a meal, your blood sugar will dip, you could get a headache, and you will be less focused. So grab a sandwich and head out. To maximize the benefits of taking a lunch break, step away from your desk and get some fresh air. [12]
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    Clear your mind. Taking a small break will reset your mental clarity. Even just a 5 minute break will help you to be a better problem solver and to deal with stress more effectively. Clearing your mind is a major benefit of taking regular breaks at work.[13]
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    Improve your physical health. Taking breaks has major health benefits. People who take regular breaks have more stamina and are in better overall health. An added bonus to taking breaks is that you're moving around more frequently, which is great for blood flow and keeping your blood pressure down.[14]
    • Your eyes will thank you for taking a break. Many people spend multiple hours a day staring at a screen, which can cause vision problems and headaches. Taking frequent breaks reduces your risk of harming your eyes.
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    Recharge your battery. One of the best parts of taking a break is that you will feel much more refreshed. After a break, you will feel increased levels of energy. If you engaged in a pleasant activity, such as chatting with a friend, you will likely feel increased levels of happiness, too.


  • Breaks are important for people who work at home, outdoors or in an office. Select your break according to the work you do. For example, if your work involves physical labor, you may want to spend a break sitting down and reading your favorite website.
  • If you are worried that taking small breaks might be seen as lazy in your office, consult your manager or human resources department. If they are aware that you are taking office breaks to help health and productivity, they are less likely to confront you with issues about slight adjustments in your work schedule.
  • Choose a break activity that is active, rather than passive. Moving around and changing your scenery will be more beneficial to your body and your work.
  • Bring your walking shoes to work with you, or keep a pair under your desk. Walking is best done in comfortable shoes. Having them around may remind you to take a break.
  • Check your employee manual. Some states and countries require that employees take paid breaks during work.

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Categories: Work World