3 Reasonable Ways to Force Yourself to Take Breaks During the Day

Increased productivity. Improved focus. Fewer mistakes. Less stress.

Chances are, you already know the numerous benefits of taking breaks at work. But, let’s face it—many of us still struggle to step away. When your inbox keeps filling up and your to-do list is miles long, it’s undeniably challenging to remind yourself to press pause every now and then.

So, we continue pushing through. We chug our way through those tasks and promise ourselves that tomorrow is the day when we’ll strike a better balance—only to go through the same routine all over again.

Fortunately, there’s a better way. I too have always struggled with forcing myself to take a step back when my workload is piled high. But, when I implemented these three strategies, ensuring that I took a break every now and then became a whole lot easier.

1. Look for Natural Pauses

The first thing I did was pay close attention to the natural rhythm of my average workday. Were there certain times when I felt more sluggish and unfocused? Were there times when I felt particularly productive?

I jotted down my observations on a sheet of paper so that I could use those notes to build breaks into my workday—without them totally disrupting my momentum.

Related: 5 Ways to Feel Better

2. Stick to a Schedule

Working with those notes, I moved onto this step. I’m very schedule-oriented, so I knew I would need to literally schedule pauses in my workday like I would a meeting or another commitment.

Now, I attempt to take a short 15-minute pause around 10 AM and another one around 2:30 PM—which are both times when I’m feeling somewhat fuzzy and unmotivated.

Of course, if that time rolls around and I’m smack dab in the middle of a project or a phone call, I adjust. But, I do still aim to take a step back around that time window each and every day.

Don’t feel like a rigid schedule will work well for you? That’s not the only way you can build breaks into your day. You can also implement something like the Pomodoro Technique to ensure you’re not working constantly without ever coming up for air.

Related: 5 Proven Steps to Cure Your Burnout at Work

3. Head Out for Lunch

I used to eat lunch at my desk every day, so that I could power my way through my avocado toast and my inbox simultaneously. It made sense to me—more time spent working would equal more tasks accomplished, right?

However, I’ve found that it actually benefits me to leave my desk behind for lunch—it’s like setting a reset button in the middle of my day. Plus, it’s a totally natural and unobtrusive time for me to take a step back.

So, eat your lunch in the breakroom or cafeteria. Or, if the weather is nice, head outside. It’s the perfect opportunity to make sure you take a much-needed breather.

Related: Letting Go of This One Belief Can Help You Work Less and Be Happier

You know that breaks are good for you. But, actually implementing them as part of your workday can be a challenge. Use these three tips, and you’ll be much more likely to step away every now and then.

This article was originally published on Inc. It has been republished here with permission

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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