Micro breaks and productivity

By johannatime On July 22, 2014 Under Productivity vs Procrastination

Sometimes, you have so much to do that you skip your breaks. Sometimes, you have a challenging deadline so pausing your activities would feel like a waste of time. Other times, you may experience a tremendous flow and moving yourself out of the zone would compromise your momentum. All wrong. Your brain needs breaks or your productivity will drop well below zero.

Concentration span

A human brain is an incredibly complicated system that needs the right conditions to function properly. It consumes lots of energy, particularly by focussing attention on difficult tasks. I’m no brain scientist, but I’m sure you will agree with me that a well rested brain works better than a tired one. Taking a break recharges your brain. Just releasing the pressure for a couple of minutes, expands your concentration span. Taking a frequent micro break will boost your productivity. A break is like a breathe.

Micro breaks

Over the course of a day, your brain will be much happier with many short breaks, than with one long one. Short because you don’t want your breaks to distract you from your work, and many because demanding tasks require lots of energy so frequent recharge is needed.

Depending on your style and concentration span, take a couple of minutes’ break every 15-25 minutes. Keep in mind that you do nothing in your break, or it will be more like an interruption than a battery recharge. So do nothing except taking a sip of your coffee (water is much better) and stretching your arms and legs.

Challenge yourself to take your micro break:

  • after you have finished reading that page;
  • after you have made that phone call;
  • after writing that paragraph.


A micro break is good for you, however do take care with your dosage:

  • Don’t start with a break. Start doing something difficult, like eating your frog.
  • Don’t take a break when you just had one.
  • And don’t take a break when you are procrastinating on something difficult. Start doing that difficult thing and then take your micro break.

As a little extra surprise, your brain will occasionally come up with creative ideas during a micro break. Write them down, don’t get distracted or overwhelmed! And please share your thoughts about micro breaks and productivity in the comments below:

Johanna Jansen

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