Rest Breaks Aren’t a Sign of Weakness — They’re a Sign of Productivity


I’ve been known to compete in some long-distance road races, and one thing I learned over the years is that it’s okay to take small breaks along the route.

I used to see these breaks as a sign of weakness — evidence that I wasn’t tough enough to stick it out.

But one thing I learned is that not taking breaks actually caused me to finish my runs slower than when I took small breathers.

Why? Because the fatigue from not taking these small rest breaks wore me down and caused me to run the overall route slower than when I took these little rests.

I learned my lesson a few years ago while running the Chicago Half Marathon.  I didn’t take any breaks for the first half of the race, so that when the heat and the hills hit at the halfway point, I was drained.

So I began taking one-minute breaks every five minutes for the rest of the race.

The result? The second half of my race (with the breaks) was actually faster than the first half (without).

Is there anything we can learn from this for our business lives, as well?  As I wrote in this post, it isn’t always about working harder, it’s about working smarter.

And there are some techniques designed specifically around this principle of forcing yourself to take small breaks throughout the day:

  • This post suggests 48-minute increments are the best way to get work done.
  • Then, of course, there is the Pomodoro Technique, which uses a simple tomato-shaped kitchen timer to help you set your time constraints to get your priorities done.

Pulling all-nighters and marathon, rest-free work sessions might make you feel tough, but it’s probably actually hurting your overall work product — while leaving you drained and burned out.

Do you have any tricks for how you space breaks throughout the day (or week) to help you recharge and be more productive? Let us know in the comments!

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