“I’m Too Busy!” 3 Types of Breaks You Should Be Taking Throughout Your Day and Why They Matter.

"I'm Too Busy!"  3 Types of Breaks You Should Be Taking Throughout Your Day and Why They Matter.

“If we would just slow down, happiness would catch up to us.” ~ Richard Carlson

Sometimes we get so caught up with to-do lists, take action lists, incoming calls, outgoing texts, filled inboxes, etc., etc., etc., that our life feels like a non-stop, crazy, stressful, mess!

By adding breaks to your schedule, you give your mind an opportunity to settle, clear, unwind, and recharge – so that when you get back to your day, you are able to perform at your best.

I like to think there are three different kinds of breaks that you can add to your day: punctuation breaks, paragraph breaks, and paper breaks.

Let’s look at the living of your life like the composition of a book.

As each day of your life is lived, one page of your book is composed.

When you go throughout the day without any breaks you are essentially writing the entire page of a book without any punctuation marks!

And what a run-on sentence that would be!

Here’s an example of what a morning in your book might look like without any breaks (brace yourself):  “Alarm goes off in the morning and you don’t want to get up yet so you snooze again and again and again until finally you’re forced to get up because you aren’t able to delay any longer and so you roll out of bed and crawl to the shower where you go back and forth thinking about sleep and thinking about all of the work you have to do at the workplace until alas you finish your shower and proceed to get dressed and tidied up only to realize that you’re now running late and rush downstairs to grab something quick to eat and hustle out the door…”

Painful to read isn’t it?

Without punctuation marks, the mind gets overwhelmed and words blend together into jumbled up thoughts and tiresome ideas.

…Well, without proper breaks in your day, your mind follows a similar path.

Similarly to how punctuation marks are used in writing, punctuation breaks should be used often throughout your day.

These allow you to complete one thought or action and deliberately and clearly begin the next one.

Examples of punctuation breaks:

  1. Taking a minute (or a few) to stretch and move your body a little after you get out of bed (as opposed to crawling to the bathroom right away in resent).
  2. Taking a minute (or a few) to reflect on what you’re grateful for in the shower (like hot water, water, a shower, a house, a functioning body, etc).
  3. Taking a minute (or a few) to mingle with your family and exchange gifts and thoughts of love (instead of rushing out of the front door).
  4. Taking a minute (or a few) to sit in your car and breathe deeply while the engine heats up (instead of kicking it right into gear).
  5. Taking a minute (or a few) to relax and clear your mind while you sit at red lights (as opposed to spiking the blood pressure by yelling at lights that are going to change at the same time regardless).

The next type of break is a paragraph break:

These allow you to complete a train of thought or a train of actions and give you space to mentally prepare for the start of a new train – like the way paragraphs are broken up in a book.

Use these a few times throughout your day.

Examples of paragraph breaks:

  1. Taking 5-20 minutes to meditate.  You could do it right from the very chair you’re sitting in.  There’s a great website for that.
  2. Taking 10 – 30 minutes to read a chapter (or two) of a book.  A book that you actually want to read – not one that you were assigned to read.
  3. Taking 15-30 minutes to listen to the wonderful sounds of nature or listen to a few of your favorite songs.
  4. Taking a 15-30 minute walk around the block or at your favorite nature spot to settle your mind.  You could even run if that’s your thing.
  5. Taking a 20-45 minute power nap.  There’s a great app for that.

And finally there are the paper breaks:

At some point you have to stop writing on one page and turn it over to the next.

That’s what paper breaks allow you to do – turn the page so that you may start anew.

They allow you to solidify the thoughts and actions of that day and recharge, refocus, and reignite your soul for what’s next in the upcoming day.

Examples of paper breaks:

  1. Taking 6-8 hours to sleep fully every night.  That’s it.  That’s the only way (that I know of at least) to turn the page from the experiences and writings of that day to the fresh blank page of tomorrow.  Without a good night of sleep, the page doesn’t get turned and you continue writing on the page from the previous day.

So, how do you break up your day?  

Do you find that there’s one type of break that you’ve been overlooking?  

What might you start doing to break better during your days?

Conversation and ideas welcome below!

4 Responses to “I’m Too Busy!” 3 Types of Breaks You Should Be Taking Throughout Your Day and Why They Matter.

  • This is an AWESOME analogy! Sometimes I think we get so caught up in our efficiency (work, home, family, activities) that we forget about ourselves. Thx Matt

    • Glad you enjoyed the analogy, Mary 🙂 – And it’s SO TRUE! Efficiency is the focus of choice for many, but when we really look deeply at the matter… wouldn’t you say that we are most efficient when we are operating at our optimal pace in our optimal state? Because if so, I’d like to argue that both of happen when we acquire the proper amount of rest and recovery time.

      Another great analogy for this would be running a marathon vs. running a sprint. Work, home, family, and activities are essentially all marathons in that we’re going to be doing them for an extended period of time. So why then, are we trying to finish our marathon at a sprinters pace??

  • I am a believer that taking small breaks during the work day is essential for me. When my office printer died, I didn’t replace it. That way, whenever I print something, I have to take a break and walk 20 steps to the copier to get my printout. If the weather is nice enough, I take 10 minutes at about noon to recharge by walking around outside (or inside in bad weather) our facility. It gives me just enough down time to refresh and begin again.


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