Why Taking Short Breaks More Often Will Make You Smarter


Before I start a project I take a break. It could be a short pause with a deep breath or a quick walk to help me get my mind focused.

The worst thing anyone can do at work is start a project without looking at where to put their focus.

They jump in and make a ton of mistakes.

Lately I’ve been taking a Kermit the Frog dancing break. I swivel my arms from side to side and stamp my feet. It helps clear out the cobwebs that can form from focused work.

It helps that half my work week I work from a home office where no one can see me.

I don’t dance like Kermit the Frog at my co-working space. I might spin around in a cool swivel chairs walk down 7 flight of stairs and then back up.

Your energy is the most important resource that you have.

Time is great, but if you are exhausted you will never do great work.

Do you want do work you truly care about? You have to start by building a resume that draws people to you. Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide. You’ll find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love.

I would rather have an hour of high energy and focused work vs. 2 hours of tired and sluggish work.

You’ll also retain more of the information you learn in a day because you took the time to let it soak in and process.

Stop Pushing Through

Last week I jumped into writing a blog post and I got halfway through and I hit a wall. I didn’t know where to go next. Instead of pushing through I decided to take a break.

I went to the bathroom then made myself a mug of green tea.

The hard part is actually getting yourself to slow down before you start a project. Many of you don’t think you have the time to take a break before you start.

I thought the same thing, but with a little practice my breaks have helped me complete work faster then if I just jump in.

Next time you are about to do something difficult from writing a detailed email to analyzing data try taking a break.

Taking an active break is very simple.

Step 1: Take 3 deep breaths.

Step 2: Think about what you would like to accomplish in the next hour.

Step 3: Think about how to best accomplish your goal.

Then go for it. This Active Break could take 1 or 5 minutes, but it will help you make smarter decisions with your time. I’ve found that I actually am more energized because I have a vision for my next hour instead of just jumping in.

I can be impulsive with my actions. Like I said I get an idea and want to run with it. I don’t want to slow down my motivated momentum. Sometimes I will run with it and see what happens, but 99% of the time I end up hitting a wall. I used to try to power through.

Worst choice in that situation.

You can’t find a way through a brick way by ramming your head against it. You’ll just get blood all over the place.

So I’ve learned to take 3 deep breaths and step back from my work. I’ll usually go for a short walk. If I’m at my co-working space I’ll take the elevator down to the basement and walk up the 7 flights of stairs. If I’m at home I’ll walk out into my backyard.

The key is not to try to solve my problem.

You can’t fight a problem with more fire. You need an active break.

A break that helps you create emotional distance and see the problem from new angles.

Then the problem/project becomes easier to solve.

I would rather solve a problem/project in 2 hours than 4. I’m pretty sure you would too.

You’ve probably heard the phrase:

Work smarter not harder.

Here are a few weird breaks that I’ve done and seen other people do at work. :)

When I have my clients survey their employees. We use the DPS system. One comment that occurs again and again is that they aren’t encouraged to take breaks. If you want to learn how to survey employees at work so you can create more engagement and happiness, just let me know over at Domino Connection.

I believe active breaks are how to make this happen.

How do you use breaks to help you work smarter?

Work is Killing You and 10 Ways to Stop It From Happening!

exercise-at-workEditor’s Note: This is a guest post from Gus Zambrano.

Every morning, you awaken to a new day and you launch into your familiar routines as you hustle to meet your daily obligations. 

Ideally, your work excites you, energizes you, and brings joy to your life. If your work brings you more stress and fatigue than joy then now is the time to make some changes. You can introduce a renewed vigor into your work and upgrade your attitude.

You know that taking care of yourself should be your number one priority. Yet you often let your health and fitness levels fall by the wayside if you are consistently working 50 or more hours a week.
[Read more…]

Recharge Your Battery Throughout the Day

rechargeYour internal battery needs to be recharged on a regular basis. You can’t continue at break neck speed and expect to stay happy and keep reaching your goals.

The hard part is making your recharge a daily habit. If as many people meditated as much as they drank beer we would not be so stressed out and exhausted.

Drinking alcohol is fun. I enjoy a good dark beer every so often, but I stopped drinking every day because of the drag on my body.

I also stopped relying on vacations to recharge my battery. Needing a vacation is a myth that I want to crush right here. You don’t need a vacation. Yes, it may be nice, but you don’t really need one.
[Read more…]

5 Important Rules to Follow When Tele-commuting

home-office-blueEditor’s note: This is a guest post from Evita of Evolving Beings

In our first part of this series, we considered “Why Companies Should Allow Their Employees to Work from Home”. Today we follow up with 5 important rules to follow when working from home.

Having experience in working from home for a company (through my husband), and working from home for myself, I would like to explore the topic of working from home from both angles.

Let’s look at how to make the most of your work happiness when you telecommute for a company:
[Read more…]

How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

relaxed-at-workSo you’re stressed out and you have too much to complete. What do you do?

Usually someone does the opposite of what they should really do. They try to rush through to get as much done as possible without being aware of their body signals.

This is actually funny to me. I have often seen co-workers making calls, writing an email and planning their night all at the same time they’re rushing to get all their work done and then they complain about feeling stressed out.

Instead of looking at the root cause, they apply topical solutions to the problem. I’ll explain as this article continues.

I’ve actually tried talking to these stressed out people about their habits and all I get are grumpy stares. I’m sure they are addicted to the rush of rushing around. We all love to feel important, making sure our ego gets that daily dose of “oh yeah, that’s why I’m on Earth.”

The problem is that our hearts, minds, and stomachs can’t handle the pressure. No wonder we eat for comfort. We are constantly on the edge trying to bring ourselves back to solid ground. We also forget that we have superpowers that need to be used more often.  We forget that we are put on this earth to thrive instead of just survive. That means doing work that gets us excited, gets us in the zone, and plays to our strengths. It’s a lot easier to keep stress back when we are doing work that comes easy to us.

We also need to find other ways to relax with the work that we do without feeling overwhelmed. It’s a mental game that we must all solve for ourselves.

I use 3 techniques that I’ve combined to help me deal with my frustration, plus a bonus idea that has worked well for me:

– Slow your movements for a specified amount of time

– Increase speed slowly

– Be 100% there

* Bonus Tip

[Read more…]

The Perfect Drug to Revive a Work Day

Sick and tired of taking those man-made drugs that drag you down? Then try my magic drug that’s all natural.

A nap.

Shhhh, don’t tell anyone.

Hey, if you would like to:

  • Reduce your stress
  • Improve your Short-term memory
  • Increase your patience and motivation
  • Process information more efficiently

Then you will love “the nap.”


Ok, the infomercial is now over. Just having a little fun.

[Read more…]

Celebrate the Google Way

Every company should celebrate its successes. Google does this in various ways. 

Small Scale – Google built lounges for people to gather and talk

You don’t need to physically throw a party to create a celebration type atmosphere. People want to gather and share. Your company can do this too by creating an area that’s dedicated to letting off steam and building a community.

Medium Scale – TGIF Parties

I’m all for throwing parties and Google does this every Friday. It gets other Googlers together. They usually have a band, but all you need is a little iPod dock and some cool music. Your employees can hang out and make new friends and your company can do this with a modest budget. I wrote an article called Create 12 Parties a Year Instead of 1 Boring Holiday Party. The idea is simple – throw a party each month so everyone gets to hang out and learn about each other.

The more friends people have at work the more they enjoy working at their company.

[Read more…]

Slowly Ease Back Into Your Work Before You Really Freak Out

Let’s redefine stress so it fits into how you handle your life. Stress is the tension that you create to keep pressure on yourself. We do this because it keeps us on our toes ready to quickly answer a manager’s question or finish a report before the deadline.

It’s hard to admit that our stress is our fault, but it really is. If a lion was tracking you in the middle of an open field this stress would cause your heartbeat to skyrocket, igniting your thought processes and forcing you to act. Let’s take a step back…If you weren’t afraid of dying or pain, and you really wanted to end your life, how do you think you would feel?

You would probably be cool as a cucumber because you would be willing to take the pain to end the pain.

Acute Stress

If you were afraid of being eaten by a lion you would run like the inner track star that has always been dying to come out. This acute stress occurs because your heart is pumping like crazy, trying to keep the blood flowing to all the vital muscles. You want to live so you find the best actions to make it happen.

We feel this acute stress because it’s fast, intense and takes over the whole body. This stress occurs when we are giving a big presentation, approaching a deadline, and other major events. It’s easy to recover from this type of stress because we have no choice. Our bodies crash, shutting down our brains and forcing us to relax.

Chronic Stress

The problem with chronic stress is that it’s soft and slow. It’s a small river wearing away the rock bed. We don’t even realize that our happiness is eroding away. Over time the constant pressure breaks us down.

We carry this burden with us wherever we go. We martyr ourselves out to the world, so the people in our lives know how much we give and give.

Imagine you had to stand for hours at a time. The first hour may be easy, but slowly the burden becomes too great and your muscles and ligaments can’t handle the constant strain. You would collapse from exhaustion. There is documentary to illustrate this point, which I tried to find on Google and YouTube, but was unable to remember the name of the movie. The film follows a competition to win a car. A group of contestants try to stand and keep their hand on a car for longer than the other participants, and as soon both hands are no longer touching the car they lose. It’s an excellent chance to watch people at their best and worst. They become delirious and eventually the pain is too much. All except for one, who looked like he was on the brink of letting go too.

Your chronic stress does the same thing to you. Imagine if you had to stand in one place for hours or even days; eventually you’d have to give in and rest. We all need leisure breaks to help us stabilize our productivity.

Ease Yourself Back In

After allowing yourself a break, you shouldn’t just jump back in at full speed. You need to ease yourself back into a slower pace of work. I know this is hard to do at some jobs. Management expects full speed ahead.

If you enjoy what you do then you have to be creative with your effort. Try to work in smaller batches and when each batch is done then take a small break: bathroom, water, or a nice conversation with a co-worker. One of my favorites is making all kinds of crazy faces into a mirror. It usually makes me laugh and relieves the internal pressure that I put on myself.

You have to find the pace at which you are comfortable working. Your flow will fluctuate, so be willing to plow through work if that’s the type of mood you are in. Just don’t be afraid to take a break when you need it. It’s all about being flexible with how you are feeling that day.

Do you take scheduled breaks or do you just go with how you feel?

When You Are Freaking Out Because You Are Stressed Read These Articles:


Images courtesy of Clover_1

Just a Little More Effort for True Happiness

Kick BackWe all get a little lazy every now and again and that’s okay. There are some days I push too hard to accomplish so little. That’s when it’s better to just take a lazy day.


One of the secrets to your productivity is to understand when these days occur and how to use them to your advantage. If you keep pushing too hard then you won’t get anything done. Just stop and take a long break, surf the net or take a nap and come back when your mind is ready to go.


Although, if you feel this way too often, you’ll never get anything done. The trick is to understand the routine of your emotions. If you are always a slow starter then work with these feelings. I usually start work at 9am, which means I actually get rolling around 9:30, but to trick myself I sometimes jump on the computer at 8:30 to do a quick little task. I tell myself it will only take five minutes. Before I know it, I’m sucked in and I’m off and running, accomplishing great work.


Tricking myself into starting a half hour early helps me get an early jump on a busy day.




The blogs around the globe are improving on a daily basis. It’s amazing how ZenHabits has grown. I remember reading it when it had a few thousand subscribers. Leo wanted desperately to quit his job and give his time over to his true passion, giving his readers great content. He wrote an article that breaks down the simple habits of a truly happy person.^



Gretchen Rubin also writes about happiness over at The Happiness Project, so many great articles that I become happier just thinking about them.




We all make mistakes that can affect the rest of our lives. It’s how we deal with these mistakes that separates the optimists from the pessimists. Over at Hunter Nuttall’s blog… I loved his explanation of how to deal with life altering choices. He wrote about Dr. Cox from the TV show Scrubs and his major mistake that cost lives. Doctors, Policemen, and Politicians face these major decisions throughout their career. How do they cope with a mistake? How do they move on and rediscover their happiness? How do you forget and move on?




I read an article over at the Small Business Branding that made me look at my own life. We’ve all heard the phrase we need to go the extra mile to get ahead at work. The cool angle that Bill Hogg found was that it doesn’t matter if you fix the problem or not, what matters is that you try your hardest. When we try our hardest we command respect because we are putting forth tremendous energy. We may not always get it right, but people will see that we are trying to go that extra mile. When they keep witnessing this effort they will be more willing to give us that promotion or the project that we really want (well most of the time).


^ Correction – The original version of this post gave credit to Gretchen for Leo’s article on Zen habits The Only Guide to Happiness You’ll Ever Need.



Related Links that Continue Along the Same Themes:


Image courtesy of sashamd

Leisure Expert Alison Link Answers a Work Happy Now Question

Leisure TreeWe all need to slow down throughout the day and take some time to relax. That’s what scheduling in leisure time is all about. Yesterday I posted Tell Your Boss You Need Leisure Time. We need to make sure that our bosses understand that we aren’t robots and we need some joking around, coffee break and just plain fun time. I was able to procure an interview with Alison Link. I thought that she would be very helpful to my Work Happy Now readers and lo and behold I was right.


I only wanted her to answer one question in order to help you understand the benefits of leisure time at work, and she answered it better than I could have expected.


I asked her, “How does someone schedule in leisure time when they don’t have enough time to get everything done that their boss asks of them?”


Alison’s answer:


Become more aware of the benefits of leisure. If you have a strong value for leisure, others will see you as a role model when they understand that your quality of life is higher than theirs. You will help them believe it is possible to have leisure in your life and not be less productive (short term and long term). You should make time for leisure because it provides the balance we need to handle non-leisure activities well and enhances resilience and life satisfaction.

While there are a few happy workaholics, most people need time away from work in order to meet all of their needs. They may have talents that do not get expressed on the job, partners or families they want to spend time with, projects to complete and values they want to support. They also need to unwind, relax, refresh and revitalize themselves.

A leisure-positive lifestyle:

  • Increases physical and psychological well-being. It reduces stress and increases wellness, and enhances people’s sense of independence.
  • Perceived freedom in leisure has been shown to help people resist stress-induced illness.
  • Impacts professional performance, enhancing decision-making and problem-solving capabilities.
  • Supports personal development by clarifying values, increasing social interaction and breaking down barriers

When people live a balanced life, they provide an important benefit to their communities as well, simply by demonstrating that such a life is possible and valuable.


My follow-up:


My readers are constantly bombarded with needing to get more done in less time. I was hoping that you might have some insight.


Alison’s answer:

There is evidence to show that leisure is linked to productivity. Adults have been shown to be able to maintain higher attention levels when they have more frequent breaks. Several U.S. and Canadian studies show that leisure programs “increased productivity by seven percent while decreasing absenteeism by 20 percent.”


Leisure education as provided by The Leisure Link builds employee morale and strengthens team functioning through its positive impacts on:


  • Self concept, self esteem and self confidence
  • Sense of autonomy and perception of freedom
  • Stress reduction and relief of boredom

Employees may find a renewed sense of purpose for its own sake. Also, increasing leisure can increase creativity.

Everyone can use more creativity in their lives (even at work, even if you have trouble getting everything done that your boss asks of you). Whatever you do, being able to generate a lot of ideas about it will help you do it better.


Leisure education helps people create the conditions for nurturing creativity in their lives and in their work. People are at their most creative when they are in a “flow state.” When was the last time you became completely engaged in your work? And how about your leisure? Remember that your work and leisure both have a ripple effect into each other. Thing about what kind of ripple you want that to be.


In Closing:


Basically it’s about teaching the people at work that it’s okay to schedule in a little leisure time. If you have any trouble convincing your boss just send me an email with his/her name and phone # and I’ll give him/her a call. I’ll put on my best Tony Soprano voice and I’ll make sure that he/she allows you to relax and destress at work.



Check out Alison Link’s website The Leisure Link Consulting. The Work Happy Now readers and I thank you for taking the time to answer my question. If you are having any trouble creating leisure time in your hectic life I would suggest hiring Allison.

Related articles:

Image courtesy of Alison’s website