When I worked my office jobs, I looked forward to going out to lunch. But I always felt a twinge of guilt about it when some of my colleagues humble-bragged about having to eat at their desks because, you know, they were “sooooooooooo swamped!”
However, taking breaks, especially small ones, is not a sign of laziness. A North Carolina State University study found that the more breaks you take, the more productive you can be.1 The results also suggest that people coming to work tired can take five-minute respites to keep up their energy and get through the day.
What I’m talking about here are microbreaks—short, impromptu reprieves you spread out during the workday.
What does a microbreak look like? Just 5-10 minutes will do. If you’re at the office, you might get up from your chair, saunter to the water cooler or kitchen, and exchange some harmless gossip with a colleague. If you’re working from home, walk around the block, or go to the kitchen to microwave your room-temperature coffee.
There’s nothing heroic about gluing yourself to your computer or cubicle for several hours, denying yourself any respite. Taking microbreaks benefits your productivity in the long run. It also does wonders for our physical and mental well-being.