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How to Take Breaks When You Work from Home

Woman working from home near an orange cat

Need a break?

If you are working from home lately, there are high chances you forgot to take a break today. Maybe even yesterday?

You took your lunch on your work desk too, right?

You may be enjoying your new found zero-commute schedule, but you are also working longer than your body can handle.

If you want to be most productive at your work, it is recommended that you spend 30% of your workday on breaks.

You read that right.

Unless you are looking to deliver substandard work to your boss, the breaks you take while working are as important as the work that you do.

Work is an essential part of our lives, after all, it puts bread on the table. But just like everything else, too much work has a counter effect. The more you overwork your body, the less productive you become.

We all want a situation where our work delivery is both accurate and with the least errors, if any. You will not get that if you keep exerting your brain 8 hours straight without those much-deserved breaks.

Why Take Breaks?

Taking breaks is not only good for your boss, but you also get to derive a lot from that kind of rejuvenation. Here is how you will benefit by taking some time off your work desk:

1. Reduced Work Stress

News flash! Your brain is not a machine.

But you already knew that.

As you work, there is a load of data traffic going through your brain. Your brain can only take so much before you start showing signs of stress. Nobody wants to have to deal with a stressed employee or colleague. You will not only be irritable, but you will also look and feel hopeless. Stress will ultimately lead to a loss of zeal for your work.

2. Goodbye to bad health

Diabetes, Obesity, heart disease, and most of these lifestyle diseases are a reality today. They don't have to be a reality for you too. Apart from exercising and eating healthy, the magic lies in the breaks you take off your work.

3. Improved memory and creativity

The next time you are looking for those 'Aha moments', try taking your brain for a walk. Take more breaks. Breaks will give you a new burst of energy essential in refreshing your mind and getting all your creative juices flowing.

Healthy Habits During Breaks

Woman sitting on a black couch drinking coffee

The pressure to meet deadlines will sometimes make you feel as if switching to a different work activity is some type of a break. It's not.

During your breaks, don't get tempted to expose yourself to anything related remotely to your work.


You don't want to experience a cognitive pile-up making it challenging to get back your attention to what you had set out to do in the first place.

That, however, does not mean camping on social media for hours on end. That kind of break will fall in the category of the unhealthy ones. Although it can be hard to restrain yourself from social media, you can still have your cake and eat it too. What you need is to set limits to avoid wasting time there.

The rule while having your break is not to get distracted from your main goal.

After 2020, businesses are now migrating into the virtual space. That means that most, if not all of us, have to embrace the idea of blended work or working from home entirely. It's easy for you and your boss to be worried about all the distractions that may get in the way of your work delivery, but the truth is, there are high chances that you will get burnout from working too much.

The breaks you chose should give you a balance between overworking and forgetting to allow your body to take a pause, wondering where the time crept off to after spending hours on social media.

Taking breaks may make you feel lazy, irresponsible, and downright guilty, but done right, it will leave you feeling energized, productive and happier.

You never asked to work from home, but now you have to. Find yourself some tips you can use to get the most out of your breaks and avoid a potential burnout.

So, how do you do it right?

Just Take a Break

Before you waste too much time thinking which break activity is right, just take a break. Any break you take will do you more good than not taking one at all. So avoid the temptation to push the idea of taking a break off your mind.

The benefits of taking a break will be evident if you compare your productivity during the days when you take one against the days that you don't.

Break the Monotony

If the type of break you are taking still feels as if you are working, you are doing it all wrong. Instead of answering that work email, why don't you check up on your mom?

Make sure some body movements are involved and make it feel completely different from what you have been doing.

Grab a Healthy Snack

The snacks at the office came in so handy, but now it's on you to know what snack to take. Jumping into the kitchen to make yourself a snack will make for a great break activity.

A healthy snack will also give you the energy you need to keep going.

Coffee jug, empty glass and snacks sitting on a table

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Know Your Work Break Policy

Most people do not take the time to know what their employer's work policy allows for when it comes to breaks. They, therefore, fail to take up the opportunities only to end up nursing unnecessary burnouts.

Share Your Schedule with Co-workers

Since your break time is an essential part of your schedule now, make sure your co-workers know the times they can't reach you because you are on break. That way, you will be able to get the most out of your time off the work desk.

You can even block time in your calendar for this.

Get Control Over Your breaks

Did you schedule a 5minutes break to check on your friend's Instagram Stories, and you ended up minus 3hours of your work time? It's time to change tactics.

Instead of going for something completely different from work, like social media, try something that keeps you productive, like loading the washing machine. These kinds of activities are time-boxed by design.

Microbreaks Will Help

Don't overthink your break activities. Some pauses can be as short as less than a minute if all you need is to break the momentum. Just make sure that that break activity has nothing to do with work.

Schedule Your Breaks for Earlier Hours of the Day

If you want to maximize your productivity, don't wait until you are all drained and exhausted from work to take your break.

It may sound ill-timed, but a break in the morning hours of the day ensures that you can regain your focus faster than the one you take later in the day.

Don't be a Slave to Your Scheduled Breaks

The challenge in taking work breaks is in regaining your focus back. Even if taking breaks is now an essential part of your life, no one asks you to be a slave to your timer.

So, if your schedule says it's time to break, but that is the time when you feel more energized, your work is going great, and ideas flowing effortlessly, don't mess that up. The break can wait.

Rest Like You Mean Business

Immerse yourself into your work, but when the time comes for you to rest, allow rest to be the only item on your agenda.

Avoid the temptation to do those little simple tasks like checking your email.

Why You Should Take Mental Breaks

Did you know that working from home and depression have a connection?

Working from home sounds like a dream come true for most of us, but, even if not directly, it exposes you to the risk of depression. According to statistics, only 25% of employees working on-site are likely to deal with high-stress levels, compared to 41% of their remote counterparts.

To reduce psychological stress when working from home, try to:

• Connect with a friend through either a voice call or video chat to avoid feeling isolated

• Put your goals on paper and allow them to keep you motivated to achieve them

• Schedule your work as well as breaks

• Set aside 3-5 minutes for meditation

• Take a walk, dance, or workout for 10 minutes

Wrapping it Up

If you just started working from home, it is easy to feel the pressure to keep working around the clock to make your boss happy. But your boss is likely to be more comfortable if you are more productive.

You can become more productive if you start taking your breaks as seriously as you take your job. No, breaks are not going to waste your time. Apart from helping you become more productive, they will put you in better moods while at it.

There are thousands of activities you can do that qualify for healthy breaks. Whichever break you decide to take, breath, decompress, refocus, and at the end of the day, you will be glad that you took one.