Could Taking Breaks Be The Best Strategy For Getting Things Done?

Image for post
Image for post

We need breaks in order to be fully present — mentally, physically, emotionally. A study from MIT found that people who got up from their desks and socialised during the workday were 10–15% more productive than those who didn’t. And I bet you can guess who left the job in a better mood.

Stepping away for a few moments enables the brain to think more creatively and stay fresh, as long as it doesn’t overflow into the times of focus. The simplest way to tap into this type of productivity is to schedule your time, choose where to invest your brainpower, and take real breaks.

Step One: Remove all distractions.

Step Two: Choose a task.

Step Three: Set a timer for 25 minutes.

Step Four: Work only on that task.

Step Five: When the timer sounds, get up and take a 5-minute break.

Step Six: Repeat.

Step Seven: Every four sesssions, take a 15–20 minute break.

Even though it seems odd, using timers will condition you to work to consistent targets, which will then help you view deadlines as signs of progress rather than sources of stress.

The goal: work with time, eliminate burnout, manage distraction, and create a healthy work-break balance.

Oh, and remember… you are not your job.

There are a million things swarming around our heads the majority of our days and nights. And it’s why we’re continuously waking up tired, even if we get a solid 8 hours of sleep. What we need is a better way to organise our thoughts and just get stuff done without the stress.

Ironically, the solution is just that. Getting Things Done (GTD) is a time-management system used to organise to-dos, reminders, and schedules into manageable steps. It’s a way to make the most of the time that you have, see what’s on your plate, structure priorities, and become an efficiency guru.

One: Capture Everything. Ideas, tasks, due dates, anything that you know you have to do. Put it in a notebook, a planner, an app, whatever. Use anything that fits your habits, and focus on getting those stressful to-dos out of your head. It’ll help you feel a bit more sane and hush the distractions that keep you from moving forward.

Two: Clarify the things you have to do. Get specific. Meaning, don’t just write down “Finish chapter 4 of The Stress Report.” Break it down into manageable steps so that the tasks themselves are smaller and easier to tackle. If there’s anything you can do in the next five minutes, get it done. If there’s anything to delegate, pass it along to someone else. But do it while you’re thinking about it.

Three: Organise those actionable items by category and priority. Put a due date on what you can and set reminders to keep working at them. Also, pay attention to each item’s priority. It’s not about working on them now, it’s about making sure that you’re allocating enough of your time to work on them later and that your nudges are set.

Four: Reflect on your list. Look over everything that that you’ve documented and see where your attention needs to be directed. This is where the clarifying step comes in handy, because you should be able to pick something you have the time and energy to do right away. If your steps still seem vague, break them down even more. Once you’ve done this, continue to review your list periodically to see where you’re making progress and how your priorities might be adjusted.

Five: Engage and get to work. Choose your first action and get on it. This system should place your to-dosin proper categories, and make your first steps easy to spot. So get to work.

“Your Mind Is For Having Ideas Not Holding Them” — David Allen.

This is an excerpt from The Stress Report.

By Kacie McGeary.

The Do Lectures is holding a one-day event called ‘Do Stress’. It will deliver insights, future strategies, and will examine the zeitgeist for ‘human-based companies’ and how ‘work’ is going to change. And what that means for your business?

There will be 10 talks from entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, change-makers and visionaries. As Dan Pink reminds us all: “Talented people need organisations less than organisations need talented people”.

That is why smart companies are creating human cultures, not corporate ones in order to thrive. How you stay ahead in the future is not the same as what kept you ahead in the past.

Why attend?

It answers the question of who leads the way in look after their people, what are they doing, why is it working? How does culture help your business? How does your purpose? How does the design of your office? Even, how you sit at a computer?

How does a human culture prevent burn out? How does it help you win the talent war? And how, just as importantly, does it help you retain your people too. What perks are the most important?

The good news is companies who look after their people are also the best businesses over the long term. Human based companies are the future. So how do you become one? Our one day event is designed to give you the answers.

The One Day Event — Do Stress

10 speakers.

2 workshops.

100 attendees.

As of September 1st, tickets are available to buy.

If you haven’t already, check out ‘The Stress Report’, 134 pages. A modern blueprint for a better way of working and living. £12. Out now.

Image for post
Image for post
Out now. £12.

Other Articles You May Find Of Interest re Stress?

5 Simple Rules To Help You Achieve Work/Life Balance.

7 Simple Principles Of Success.

How Your Business’ Culture Can Help You Keep Your Talent.

Why Companies Do Better When They Trust In Their Teams.

This Headline Doesn’t Exist. Err, That’s Most People’s Strategy For Dealing With Conflict.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Underestimating The Power Of Positive Thinking.


The Encouragement Network |

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store