How to Boost Productivity and Stay Motivated by Taking Breaks While WFH

It may sound counterintuitive, but many studies have shown a link between taking breaks and increased productivity.

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Here's what you need to know:

  • More people who work from home consider themselves "highly stressed" compared to those who work on-site
  • Working from home blurs the line of work and home life for many, which is why it's important to take a break
  • Have the employer outline a clear break policy for employees. Document this in the employee handbook.
  • Block your schedule at predetermined times to fit in breaks
  • Communicate with your coworkers
  • Don't take work with you
  • During your break, consider making a healthy snack, meditate, exercise, chat with a colleague, or bond with your pet

While some consider working from home to mean less stress and more freedom for employees, studies are finding out this is not exactly the case. Sure, we might be wearing sweatpants and waking up later, but a recent study by the United Nations has shown that more people who work from home (30%) consider themselves “highly stressed” when compared to those who work on-site (25%).

Now that we’ve all been forced to work from home due to COVID-19, we’re learning there might be something to that study. First, working from home has eliminated the separation of work and life for many. Whether you’re dealing with kids, family members, a pet, or a random technical difficulty, work-life balance has shifted to a work-life parallel.

With the needs of work and life simultaneously competing for our attention, we can fall into a spiral of half-done tasks, out of order priorities, and flat-out stress. That’s why it’s more important than ever to TAKE A BREAK!

The solution for WFH stress … take a break!

Countless studies have linked employees who take breaks with increased productivity. In this new, remote environment, it’s more important than ever to take a break and allow ourselves to breathe, decompress, and refocus.

Work from home breaks take more creativity than onsite breaks. You should strive to get away from your workspace during your break, as opposed to opening up social media and scrolling for a few minutes. Do something that allows your mind to relax and gets you in a clear headspace.

How do I take a break?


Find out your company’s breaks policy

It’s important for the employer to have a clear break policy and document it in an employee handbook. This will help structure your break schedule. Many people do not take advantage of all the breaks available to them throughout the day, which is a one-way ticket to WFH burnout.

Block your schedule at predetermined times

Now that you know your employer’s break policy, use this to create a daily break schedule. You can even create event blocks in your Google Calendar to remind yourself to take breaks and prevent coworkers from scheduling over them.

For example, if your employer allows for a 30 minute lunch break and 2 separate 10 minute breaks, consider this daily schedule:

  • 12:00 – 12:30: Lunch
  • 2:00 – 2:10: Break
  • 4:30 – 4:40: Break


Communicate with your coworkers

Let your team know your break schedule. This prevents your teammates from trying to reach you during your breaks, allowing you to take full advantage of your breather. Google Calendar blocks will help achieve this, as would setting your Slack or Teams status to “Away”.

Don’t take work with you

Seriously, it’s called a “break” for a reason. Use your break as an opportunity to refresh and recharge. Remember, this makes you MORE productive, and your employer will thank you later.

Take a break from your home life, too

Sometimes, we have to take a break at work to attend to the needs of our loved ones. Whether your kid is hungry, the dog won’t stop barking, your parents are asking questions, or your coffee spilled all over the floor while writing a Workest blog post (true story…), our breaks can be taken over by stressful distractions. Try to take at least one distraction-free break per day where you can adequately de-stress.

What should I do on my break?


Create a break project

Ever wanted to do an art project, knit a sweater, or build something but just couldn’t find the time? Consider making this your break project! Just 10 minutes a day is enough to make solid progress on lots of different projects, and it’s a fun and productive use of your time.

Make a healthy snack

Many of us were used to snacking on office snacks (oh, how I miss you Chobani yogurts and sparkling water), but now snacking is all on us. Snacking has been proven to improve your energy level, but keep it healthy to avoid the quarantine-15. We recommend checking out this list for some healthy snack ideas.


The purpose of meditation is “to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.”  What a perfect way to take a break! Getting into meditation can be intimidating at first, but here’s a helpful resource to help you get started.


Exercise is a great and healthy tool to use while we take breaks. While your breaks can feel a bit rushed for quality exercise, short walks are fantastic ways to take your break. If you’d prefer a higher intensity workout, here are some 10 minute at-home workouts that you can try.

5 new employee wellness programs to try in 2019

Take your break with a coworker (virtually!)

While working from home, we miss our coworkers. We don’t just miss working with them, we miss their funny stories, their “how are you?”s and personalities. Use your break to connect with a coworker and catch up! Virtual lunch breaks are a great way to do this.

Bond with your pet

Your pet is probably happy you’re home, but wonders why you give your laptop all your attention and ignore them during Zoom meetings. Take Fido for a walk, feed your fish, or get out the catnip, your pet will appreciate it.

Congratulations, you’re now a certified expert in taking breaks. Now get back to work! And take breaks accordingly.

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