30 things to do when you need a break

If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that working too hard without a real break will burn you out quickly. All work and no play isn’t sustainable, so it’s important to take short breaks throughout the day.

Whether it’s 5, 10, 15 or even 30 minutes, make use of your break time by doing a little more than checking your personal email or getting straight to your texts.

Here are 30 things to do when you need to take a break at work:


  1. Meditate

The physical and mental benefits of meditation have been proven by science. What’s great about it is that it doesn’t take up any resources to do. You can meditate in five minutes, or continue it for a full 30-minute break.


  1. Take a Walk

Sitting at your desk working all day isn’t great for you. There’s a saying out there that sitting is the new smoking. So the next time you have a few minutes, take a walk around the block.


  1. Catch up on Your Reading

How many times have you run across a link to an article, blog post or short story that you bookmarked but didn’t have time to read? Use your break time to catch up on all the things you meant to read from earlier in the day.


  1. Go on a Coffee Run

Offer to get your team some coffee for the afternoon. Not only will you score points with your colleagues, but you’ll also get out of the office for a few minutes. Take it one step further by inviting a team member or two to tag along. Team bonding!


  1. Call Your Mom

Seriously. She may tell you to call too much, but if you have a few minutes to spare, indulge her. You could also call a friend or relative you haven’t spoken to in a while. Calling just to say hi goes a long way.


  1. Make a Playlist

If you want to get through the rest of your workday with a vengeance, spend your break putting together the ultimate working power playlist.


  1. Check Out BuzzFeed

This black hole of entertaining posts and cat videos can keep you occupied for hours. Just make sure you don’t go overboard and get lost for the entire day.


  1. Write a Blog Post

You’ve probably got at least a couple of ideas floating around in your head for posts you want to write, or that you think would be great for your company’s blog. Take your break time to write it up.


  1. Run an Errand

Has your dry cleaning been sitting at the cleaners’ for a week and a half? Take a few minutes to go and get it. You’ll get a little hiatus from the office, and cross something off your to-do list.


  1. Draw a Picture

Give your eyes a break from your screen and draw something in a notepad. Even if it’s just squiggles, giving yourself a task like that lets your mind wander a bit.


  1. Stretch It Out

Sitting all day takes a toll on your body. Use your break time to do some stretches. Focus on your back, neck and shoulders, which can all get stiff from sitting at a desk and looking at a computer all day.


  1. Have a Healthy Snack

The midafternoon slump can be an easy time to slide into a sugary or greasy snack habit. Don’t unravel your whole diet because there’s nothing else around. Bring some yogurt, nuts or fruit with you to work, and eat healthy on your break.


  1. Do a Few Yoga Poses

Think about doing some of these office friendly yoga poses to boost your energy and get your body moving before the push to the end of the day.


  1. Free Write

Even if you aren’t a writer, giving yourself 10 or 15 minutes to free write in a journal or notebook can refresh your mind and make you feel energized for the rest of the day. Plus, when the words start flowing, you may find yourself working out a problem.


  1. Read a Short Story

With everything people have going on these days, reading fiction can get lost. Use your break to read a short story online or in a book.


  1. Endorse People on LinkedIn

If you have a five- or 10-minute break, get on LinkedIn and endorse some colleagues or former co-workers. It’s a nice thing to do, and if you endorse them for skills, they’re likely to endorse you back.


  1. Pick up the Slack

If you really need a break from your own projects but can’t afford to leave the office, offer to help a team member or manager out with their work. Look at you, scoring brownie points.


  1. Have a Dance Party

If you work in an office, put some music on and spend a few minutes jamming out at your desk. Don’t forget the headphones, though! If you work from home, blast it as loud as you want and dance around your house.


  1. Do Nothing

Set a timer on your phone for five minutes and do absolutely nothing.


  1. Light a Candle

For some aromatherapy benefits without breaking out the incense, light a scented candle for a few minutes. This is easy to do at home, but in an office setting, try just having the candle near you, or get a soothing air freshener with a mild scent.


  1. Listen to a Podcast

Podcasts come in all shapes and sizes these days. Download a few that interest you to your smartphone and listen to one or more of them on your breaks.


  1. Learn Something New

Everywhere you look online, there are how-to’s and other tutorials for random things like picking locks, building a website or fixing a leaky sink. Use your break to learn something new.


  1. Clean Your Desk

There’s no better feeling than a freshly organized and clean desktop. Go for it.


  1. Brainstorm

Spend 20 minutes brainstorming a solution or new idea for something you’ve been thinking about.


  1. Sign up for an Event

Have something you’ve been wanting to do, see or attend? Now is the time to book it.


  1. Brush Your Teeth

Your dentist will thank you. Plus, having clean teeth in the middle of the day is a nice feeling.


  1. Watch a Funny Video

Spend some time browsing the latest clips from “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and “The Daily Show,” or get lost in the Internet’s abundance of funny videos.


  1. Get Social

Make the rounds in the office. Stop by other people’s desks to say hi, or to see if they need any help.


  1. Write a Thank You Email

If someone helped you out recently, take a few minutes to say thank you in an email. Everyone likes to be appreciated.


  1. Play Memory Games

You can find a ton of memory games and other brain boosters online. Increase your brainpower by spending your break playing one.

Next time you’re taking a break at work, opt for one of these activities instead of your usual texting marathon.


What are some things you like to do during your work breaks?


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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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