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Taking Breaks Doesn't Make You Lazy — Here Are 4 Ways It Actually Makes You More Productive The more you find a balance between work and real life, the more the two will start to organically intertwine until you find your scheduling sweet spot. Here's how to find that right balance for you.

By Kelly Hyman Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Taking breaks has long been (unfairly) associated with unproductivity, so much so that it can feel like a disadvantage in this fast-paced, highly competitive world.

However, seasoned entrepreneurs understand the importance of scheduling breaks, not only for physical and mental health care but also for business sustainability. Strategically scheduling them into a work calendar can be effective and make getting to the next phase more enjoyable. Here's how.

1. Prevents burnout

Entrepreneurs are known for stretching themselves thin as they build their brands and businesses. This constant need to hustle comes from feeling the need to fill every moment of the day with something productive.

However, this round-the-clock working mentality usually leads to burnout, which can be difficult to bounce back from. Burnout causes problems for a person's physical and mental health. Also, pushing too hard often leads to being unfulfilled no matter how much is accomplished.

Scheduling time for breaks goes hand-in-hand with setting boundaries. Without anyone overseeing your schedule or telling you when to start or stop working, it's up to you to know your limits. Working in blocks of time with breaks for exercise, entertainment or even taking a quick nap are important parts of the day.

Related: How to Achieve A CEO Level of Focus by Breaking Habits and Taking Breaks

2. Gives fresh eyes to a problem

Entrepreneurs are known for multi-tasking, wearing all the business hats at once. This overstimulation can make solving relatively easy tasks more difficult than they need to be. It prevents being able to focus fully on one thing.

As an entrepreneur, it's easy to get caught up in a siloed vision of how things should be done. Sometimes stepping away from a problem can free up the mind to look at it with a fresh perspective.

Take time to collaborate with and gain inspiration from others, or focus on other activities and hobbies that aren't associated with work. The time away, no matter how brief, can re-solidify the goal(s) you want to achieve and create a more straightforward path to it.

3. Improves your mood

Similar to burnout, working too many hours can lead to mood changes, which can affect both business and personal relationships. Whether in an email, meeting or other interaction, you may not realize how much being overworked can alter the course of your day-to-day life.

When you notice your patience stretched thin, take a break outside to enjoy the fresh air. Take a nature walk, read in a park or eat lunch al fresco — you may be surprised how much sunshine on your face can boost your mood and increase productivity versus staying holed up in your own office space.

Related: Use a Clinical Psychologist's Break-Taking Brain Hacks to Be More Productive Than Ever

4. Makes you more disciplined

It may sound counterintuitive, but taking breaks can increase discipline and productivity. That's because the time you're scheduled to get things done is within a set time block.

Think about when you have eight hours to get a project done. Do you work on it the entire time or do you find your mind wandering to your emails, social media or the million other things that need to be attended to in life? Compared to when you cut that time in half without distraction, consider how much more you're able to accomplish.

Figure out which blocks of time work better for you. For some, it may be two or three hours in the morning with a long break in the afternoon with more work blocks in the evening. For others, it may be shorter blocks throughout the day. The good news is it's your schedule, so you set the parameters.

Making the most of downtime

Though there's no "right" way to take a break, there are some helpful tips to keep in mind, especially if the idea of slowing down makes you feel uneasy.

Always keep in mind the point of taking a break is for the greater good of your health and business. When you're constantly in a state of playing catchup, it can decrease your morale and make it harder to see just how well you're doing.

Here are things to consider when planning your breaks:

  • Vary times. Create at least one 15-minute break and one that's at least 30 minutes or longer. The shorter break can be used to stretch your legs, make a snack or take a quick nap. The longer breaks can be used to catch up with a loved one, read a few chapters of a favorite book or exercise. Give yourself the benefit of a full break without checking emails or social media.
  • Put them on your calendar. Book appointments with yourself. Add it as a calendar entry to rest, relax and recharge. Block the time as you look at each week's planning so that when you get to your to-dos for the day, the breaks are already baked into your workflow.
  • Schedule quarterly "retreats." A relaxation retreat doesn't have to be a costly endeavor. It simply means scheduling a day or at least part of one to do something enjoyable. For most entrepreneurs, one of the ultimate goals is to free up time for more fun in life, but it's easy to get caught up in busy schedules without taking time to enjoy the fruits of your labor; make time for it.

Related: 3 Proven Strategies on Taking Breaks That Will Help You Become More Productive

Taking breaks has gotten a better rap over the past few years as people have begun to see the ramifications when they're ignored. Consider them a business investment rather than a schedule setback. The more you find a balance between work and real life, the more the two will start to organically intertwine until you find your scheduling sweet spot.

Kelly Hyman

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

TV legal analyst and Attorney

Kelly Hyman has been called "a modern day Erin Brockovich" by Forbes. Hyman has appeared numerous times on Law & Crime, Court TV and Fox@night. She is a TV legal analyst and democratic political commentator, and as an attorney, Hyman focuses on class actions and mass tort litigation.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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