Are you looking to be a more productive and effective leader—to really maximize the time you’re allotted each day? If so, the answer you’re looking for may be somewhat unconventional. The best thing you can do is to take more time off, stepping away from your desk or perhaps venturing out of the office altogether.

By doing so, you won’t be “wasting” your time. Rather, you’ll be keeping yourself sharp and stable, ready to really devote your all to the times when you’re working intently. So while you may be spending less hours doing your job, those hours you devote will be exponentially more creative and more value-adding.

That’s because there are major hazards that come with continuous time spent on-task. Stress, fatigue, physical tiredness, and emotional burnout can all creep in, which leads in turn to a negative attitude and to a creative deficiency. The brain’s innate ability to stay focused and on track grows weaker and weaker if you don’t allow it a break—so in truth, it’s the hours you spend without taking a break that can prove wasteful.

Different Ways To Take A Break

Over the years, productivity experts have developed a number of specific formulations to help workers balance their time—to get stuff done while also taking sufficient time off for their mental health. I don’t necessarily think there is a right or a wrong answer here. It all boils down to what works for you.

  • Some productivity experts champion the 25/5 split, wherein you work intensely for 25 minutes then take a five-minute break. After four of these chunks, you’re allowed a longer, 20-minute break.
  • Also popular is the 50 on, 10 off rule—which is self-explanatory.
  • A weird and unconventional rule is the 52-17 rule. The key here is to really focus hard during the 52, and then really let your mind rest during the 17!

Another question is what you should do during your break time. Vegging out with YouTube videos works for some people, but personally I find it to be a little bit numbing; it makes it hard to snap back into focus.

Instead, I recommend doing something physical—a burst of cardio or a quick walk around your building to clear your head, circulate your blood, and just let the mind wander. This is often when some of my best creative problem-solving happens, completely spontaneously!

Alternatively, try something creative– writing in a journal, drawing, listening to music, or perhaps even meditating.

Find something that works for you—but do find something. Your business depends on you learning to take the right kind of mental health break!