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The most productive thing you can do is stop

Wait, hold up, does that make sense? Why on Earth would we be telling you to stop what you’re doing?

It’s because we’re going to explain the benefits of taking a break.

We want to help you excel in everything you do, and sometimes you need to just take a rest.


The brain is a machine like any other

Stop sign


It needs to cool down, it needs regular maintenance, and it needs upgrades. You can do all these things by taking a rest. Overworking your brain in pursuit of your project can be exhausting and it may leave you struggling to summon the energy to have the powerful impact that you desire.


I was in a training workshop by a chap called David Hieatt, who is the co-founder of Hiut Denim, and the Do Book company, and Howie's, the clothing company.

He told us a story about an experiment that they did back when everybody did manual labour. I'm talking about the early 1800s.

There conducted an experiment with 20 men where they filled a railroad wagon full of stones, by hand or using shovels and spades. They did the work with no break, filling 14 wagons in a day.

So, they gave them the next day off, and the following day they said 'for every hour you work, you're going to get a 20-minute break.

So, they worked the same amount of time, but they filled 20 wagons because of the resting allowed. They could recoup their energy. They could have some food. They could have some water. They could eat a bit of protein to mend the muscles. They could eat a bit of slow-burning carbohydrate to give them energy.

At that point people realised, if you give people breaks, they're going to be more productive.

Regular breaks are scheduled maintenance for the brain

pomodoro technique


The Pomodoro technique might just be the best repair-technique that you’ll ever find. It comes in two standard forms, either work for 25 minutes and rest for five, or work for 50 minutes and rest for 10.

Use these breaks to get away from the computer or your phone and, instead, get some fresh air, sunlight, food, and drink some water. You’ll come back to your task feeling a little bit revived and ready to continue.

If you work in an office, the Pomodoro technique might not swing with your boss and colleagues, as they might get the hump with you wandering off every 25 minutes to take some personal leave. You should be respectful of that and try to disguise your breaks whichever way you can.


There will be firefighting days



On tough and busy days when you spend the whole day trouble shooting and solving problems, you might see no benefit to taking a break as it’s going to distract you from getting things done.

You’re wrong. Those firefighting days are best served when you take regular breaks. You can use those breaks to consider your approach and strategy, rather than acting impulsively.

Exercise works too. Nothing gets the blood circulating better than exercise. If you can use your five minutes productively to raise your heart rate, you’ll also unleash energy stores and build new and useful brain cells.


Social media, news, and sports updates don’t constitute a break

switch off


Moving from one screen to another does not count as a break. Watching Instagram stories, scrolling Twitter, or looking at the football headlines does not count as a break.

You need to get up and do something less digital for a while. You can make a phone call, say hi to colleagues, step outside for fresh air or exercise. Walk up and down stairs and through corridors. Just don’t sit still and get sucked into another screen, as it doesn’t rest or inspire you.

If you’re really dedicated to your hustle, you’ll have a relevant paperback to read for a few minutes while you drink a cup of tea. You can also look at your calendar and make sure you’ve got your priorities in order.

You could even grab a PDF or a book and sit somewhere quiet. There are ways to take breaks, and still be “working”. But, the best break is to just to stop working for a short time.

Do exercise, go for a walk, have a snack, or sit and chat with friends.


Think, rest, return refreshed. The world is counting on us.


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Daniel O'Connor

Daniel O'Connor

I use my time and experience to contribute to the transition to a regenerative sustainable society for all.


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