How to Intentionally Break up Your Work Day

Staying motivated these days can be a challenge, know when to take time to recharge your mind throughout your work day.

As 2020 continues, it can feel like every day we are faced with a new challenge and a new source of stress and anxiety.  There is pressure on all of us to keep up our normal workload, while also dealing with the changes that are occurring in our world, working from home, and keeping our children on track with remote learning.  The mental stress has never been higher.  So, how can we keep up with our demanding jobs without risking fatigue and burnout?  Building scheduled breaks into your day may be just what you need to do.  Here are five breaks that you can intentionally schedule into your daily life to stay focused, motivated, and energized.

Morning Break

This is where you begin your day.  Take time in the morning when you first wake up to stretch, read, meditate, or just sit with a cup of coffee.  Whatever you need to do to slowly start your day that does not include checking work emails.  When you refrain from checking work email or other work messages until you’re actually starting your workday instead of right when you wake up, you are shortening how long it “feels” like you are working.  If you are a parent, you may not have much time to devote to yourself in the mornings, but try to take even 15 minutes to slowly start your day.

Work Break 1

When you are working in an office, there are many distractions that naturally give us breaks throughout the day.  From a quick talk with coworkers to a walk back to your desk after a meeting.  Working from home, there are fewer of these natural breaks.  This can make the day seem longer as we continually work with no mental breaks sitting at our desks with nothing bringing us out of our work zones.  Therefore, taking a break in the morning after a Zoom meeting or after completing a certain task is a great way to refresh your mind mid-morning.  You can take this time to answer a few text messages, stretch, or check on your kids and then you can get right back to a new task.  


Lunch is an obvious, but yet, important break to take during your day.  The idea is that during this time, your mind can have a chance to relax, recharge, and, if needed, process.  Do not worry about work during your lunch break so that you can fully relax.  If you do not take this time off in the middle of your day, your day will seem much longer and you will actually be less productive in the afternoon.

Work Break 2

Afternoons are always the most difficult part of the work day.  I think we would all agree.  According to Daniel Pink in his book “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing”, almost everyone experiences an afternoon “trough.” This is that time in the afternoon when you can barely keep your eyelids open no matter how hard you try.  Now, this may make you feel better knowing that everyone has that exact same feeling in the afternoon, however, it also means that we need to acknowledge this part of the day and find a way to recharge rather than try to fight through it.  Instead of fighting, give your body the break it needs. 

Pink recommends a “napaccino”: Down a cup of coffee and then take a power nap for 25 minutes or less.  As this is certainly not always possible and we can only dream of actually doing it, getting up from your desk or just getting a cup of coffee may help you fight that mid-afternoon fog.  

Evening Break

In an ideal world, we can all finish our work for the day before dinner and not need to look back at it until the following morning, but this does not always happen.  Sometimes we all need to do more work in the evening to catch ourselves up.  So, in comes the evening break.  Take time off in the evening before completing your remaining tasks and responsibilities.  This could look like stopping to eat dinner, exercising, going to the park with your kids, watching a TV show, tidying up the house, or doing anything that gives you some space to refresh and recharge.


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