5 Signs You Need to Take a Break from Work

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5 Signs You Need to Take a Break from Work Does it feel as if you’re not being as productive as you could be at work?

Are you feeling tired, drained, and overwhelmed?

No matter who you are, or what you do, it’s important to take regular breaks from your work.

In this post, I offer five ways to tell when you’ve reached that breaking point (no pun intended) and need to take a step back from work.

With practice, you’ll be able to better identify when you should stop pushing forward and when you should take a break, be it a few minutes, hours, or weeks.


You make several careless mistakes within a span of minutes.

You’re making good progress in your work when it happens; you make more mistakes in a span of five-minutes than you do in a single day.

What gives? No, you haven’t suddenly turned into a poor worker. You’re probably just tired and overworked.

Instead of simply dismissing a series of careless mistakes, use this opportunity to acknowledge that something isn’t right. You might have to literally put down what you’re doing, and take a physical step away from your work.

This is especially wise advice if you’re working with or using heavy machinery or tools or devices that could potentially harm yourself or others if you make an error.

If you’re ever in doubt as to whether or not you should take a break, take the break. There’s no need to carelessly endanger yourself or others.

Your head/back/eyes ache.

Do your eyes feel tired? Does your back feel stiff? Does your head feel foggy? Working without taking adequate breaks can distort your ability to sense to that something is physically bothering you. All the more reason to give your body a physical break from whatever it is you are working on at the moment.

What can you do to give your body a rest? Well, if you’ve been sitting for a long period of time, stand up, stretch, and walk around. If your eyes feel tired, take a screen break and gaze out of a window into the distance. Get some fresh air to your brain by going outdoors for a quick walk or stroll.

In some cases, you may even want to set a timer as you work to remind yourself to check how you’re feeling. Make your evaluation and take a break as necessary.

You haven’t had a full break from work in days.

You may not want to hear this, but checking your work email on the weekends still counts as work. If you haven’t taken a complete break from your work during weekends or on your scheduled breaks, you’re missing out on solid way of recharging your productivity batteries.

There’s great benefit in putting a priority on your personal time. Not only do you get to devote time to your favorite hobbies and activities, and spend quality time with your family and loved ones, but you bring a fresh perspective to you work.

Stepping away from your desk allows your mind to rest and recharge. All of a sudden, solutions to problems that may have been difficult to solve, suddenly solve themselves. Ideas for new projects and assignments seem to magically appear. Wouldn’t it be great to have this boon of productivity at your disposal?

You feel overwhelmed.

Every now and then we can get overwhelmed with our work. There’s little tasks floating around, rapidly approaching deadlines, meeting upon meeting…the list never seems to end. No matter what your schedule looks like, sometimes the best thing you can for yourself is to step away from your work.

Don’t forget there’s a great big world out there. Get out of your head and give yourself some valuable perspective instead.

Shake up your daily routine by reading an inspiring book, visiting a new travel blog, having a phone call with an old friend, or sitting outdoors and simply looking at nature.

You find it impossible to focus on your work.

Your mind starts to wander when you’re reading a passage in a report, you can’t seem to keep your place as you make calculations, and you sheepishly ask your coworker to repeat themselves for the third time. Obviously, something is amiss. If you find yourself in any of the above situations, it’s probably a good idea to give your mind a rest.

Besides taking a few minutes’ break from your work, you may want to give yourself some more distance to allow your mind to recuperate from your last work session. An easy ways to do this is to tuck away your assignment or project for several days (or several weeks, if you have the time) and come back to it with fresh eyes.

How about you? How do you know when you need to take a break from your work? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.