How taking a break can maximize performance and productivity

Today’s article on is “A High Performance and Productivity Secret: Take A Break.” It’s all about the impact a few minutes of rest can have on maximizing performance and productivity if applied at regular intervals throughout the work day. Or during any kind of project that requires long periods of focused attention.

You probably already know that you have both physical and psychological daily cycles. But you may not be aware that you also have mini-cycles based on your tasks, experiences and feelings, all of which change constantly. Everything you do, think and feel has an energy demand. And your energies need to be regularly refreshed.

Also, if you manage others, you should be aware of everyone’s need to take breaks to bring better focus to their work projects.

Read the article.

A few more words on time management tips…

Articles can only only cover so much territory. Even books don’t adequately cover large topics like time management and getting things done.

When I wrote the three-part blog post series earlier on time management concepts, I wanted to cover something that you seldom see online in articles. You get a lot of good tips for managing your time. There are a number of writers who write on time management and have solid ideas and practical techniques to offer. But without the context of why the techniques work, many people seem to get the impression that those of us who write about time management and getting things done are lecturing.

So I had wanted to write a bit to give you an idea of some of the concepts behind the more common techniques and tips that you see. Hope that series helped.

Since then, I’ve published three guest articles about time management and getting things done on

Janis Pettit talks about “Five Ways You Could be Wasting Your Time,” naming the five most common misuses. I’d like to add that no matter how well you plan or how focused and reasonable your to-do list, you’re still going to have to discipline yourself to avoid bad habits and distractions. I think I’m going to have it tattooed on the back of my hand that “there is a difference between research and just browsing the ‘net out of curiosity.”

“Distractions a Problem? Successful Entrepreneur Shares Ten Easy Solutions,” by Kendall Summerhawk reminds us that there are many possible distractions, including stuff that we may not think of as distracting. For example, we don’t usually think of household chores as distractions. Nevertheless, if we have our priorities in line, we may find that the only way to get essential work done is to find a way to delegate, get help with or automate things like cleaning, laundry and shopping. Look twice at your to-do lists. Keep remembering that, like everyone else, you only get 24 hour per day.

“Take Action, Even When You Aren’t In The Mood.” O.K., I’ll grant you that getting stuff done is harder when you’re not feeling great. But millions of people who are clinically depressed — and may even be in therapy for it — manage to get themselves up and be productive every day. Moods are distractions and excuses. (Yes. Sometimes I do lecture a bit.) Jessica Swanson’s short article may sound a bit like a common pep talk from your Mom, but her brief suggestions are really how it’s done. You don’t have time to let feelings distract you. You need to just get on with it. Dealing with your feelings is a separate issue.

Time Management Concepts: What is time?

Many people say that “time management” isn’t the right way to describe how you plan, organize and conduct the process of doing the things you have to do. Perhaps it should be called “task management.” Or “activity management.” Or “life management.”

Time is a concept with almost countless definitions. Is it the duration of an experience? No one has the same experience of anything as anyone else. Is an hour a short time or a long time? Or does short and long depend upon what you are using the time for? Is it whatever the clock or calendar measures? Or are clocks just artificial and arbitrary?

When you try to live by a clock and calendar, does the management of your life’s activity stifle your creativity? Create anxiety or resentment? Choke the flow of your process? Divide your life into too many small boxes unrelated to each other?

If you think of time management do you think of forced choices? Or do you think of the opportunity to get more done through order and efficiency?

Is there really any such thing as “time?” Or is it just a concept to help us agree on who does what and in what order?

Psychologists and other counselors and spiritual advisors talk and write about all those considerations. Because there are so many ways you can experience time, so many ways you can understand or misunderstand it. So many ways you can find to get a handle on it so you can use it effectively.

The most practical way to consider time is that it is a concept for measuring the durations of days, parts of days and groups of days. Having those measures, you can use them to further measure durations of activities you perform.

Once you simply think of time as a useful measure, you can start seeing how to apply it as you would any other measure. It becomes more objective. You can turn it into “behavioral recipes.” It is no more mysterious or hard to control than hard boiled eggs. (Of course, there are varying opinions even on how to boil eggs!)

Seriously, how different is writing a to-do list from writing a cooking recipe? You have to know the ingredients: tasks, actions, behaviors — whatever you want to call them. You have to know the proper order in which to do the tasks. You need to know how long it should take to do each task. You need to know what constitutes “doneness” of the task. (Except, you can’t just stick a fork or toothpick into it.)

Also, just as a cook doesn’t have to like cheesy zucchini to make some and do it well, you don’t have to like all the actions or behaviors on your list. You just have to get them done.

If you consider time as a useful measure for managing what you do, you can see that the idea of having priorities based on values is a practical choice. The concept of values, then, becomes an objective measure. A value may involve feelings and judgments, but it is a measurement that allows you to know what is important. What makes all the other things you are doing worthwhile — especially the things you rather not do.

In the next post on time management concepts, I’ll tie this up with why it is essential to use your values and time measures to make lists, calendars, schedules, etc. And why and how to make them in ways that you enjoy working.