Think over the past few workdays you’ve had. Can you say with certainty that every working minute you’ve had (excluding your meal break, if you do take one) has been productive? I know that certainly hasn’t been the case for me. Of course, no one is expected to work without taking a break and if you currently do, there are some unfortunate negative consequences, including reduced well-being, productivity, chronic stress, and more.

Everyone takes breaks, but are you maximizing the pockets of free time you get when you do take a break? It depends on what you do during these breaks. If the first thing you do is take out your phone and open Instagram or TikTok to start scrolling, chances are you’re not making the best use of your time.

I’m not saying you should never be using these apps, but be aware that these apps are designed to be addictive and can have real effects on your neurochemistry. Personally, I used to open both TikTok and Instagram intermittently throughout the day, checking for any quick updates when I had small breaks. I slowly realized that this behaviour was eating up more and more of my time and negatively affecting my ability to focus. I’ve since removed both of these apps from my phone. I still use Reddit and Twitter, but I find that they don’t affect me as much.

What then are some ways to maximize the breaks that you do take throughout the day? In the rest of this post, I’ll share some of the things that I (try to) do when I take a breather at work.


Humans have largely evolved to move, with our ancestors having to either hunt or gather for sustenance until relatively recently (in the grand scheme of things). In fact, our brain function is directly tied to how much we move. That being said, if you’ve got some time throughout the day, it could be a good idea to start introducing some movement or physical activity.

You could go for a quick walk around the office or your house, incorporate some mobility exercises to counter the effects of sitting all day or even fit in a short workout. You don’t necessarily have to set aside 30 minutes for an intense workout. Instead, you can slot in repeated bouts of light exercise throughout the day. This is also known as Greasing the Groove, which works by improving your neural adaptations, making each exercise easier as you accumulate volume. The next time you take a break, consider doing some squats or pushups. If you don’t mind the strange looks from your co-workers, you can even try doing some kettlebell swings.

Learn Something New

Another great way to use your pockets of free time is to learn something new. The abundance of apps like SmartUp, Khan Academy, Udemy, Coursera, and many more means that it’s now possible to fit in a short learning session as part of your break. If you prefer something more physical, a book works just as well.
Over an extended period, you’ll find that these short learning sessions add up. Author James Clear summarizes this idea perfectly, noting that “If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.”


Run Small Errands

Another way I make use of breaks during the workday is to run small errands. Whether it’s sorting out my email inboxes, tidying up my (physical and digital) workspace, making a dinner reservation for later that week, or sorting out my expense tracking, I find that running small errands during my breaks allows me to take a break without breaking a productivity streak.

Personally, this also makes it easier for me to jump back into my tasks.



If you find that sometimes it’s hard to focus on your daily tasks, a great way to use your spare pockets of time is to meditate. To put it simply, meditation involves improving your self-awareness and reframing your perspectives. There are many benefits associated with practicing meditation, including stress reduction, improvement in attention span, improved sleep, controlling your perception of pain, and more.

You may find that if you add meditation to part of your routine, the problems you may have don’t seem as troubling as they were before starting a practice. Thankfully, meditation doesn’t require you to take a week off work and isolate yourself from the rest of the world. Nowadays, there are many mobile applications that guide you through various meditation programs.

Some of the more popular apps include Calm, Insight Timer, Headspace. Personally, I use the Waking Up app and have invested in a lifetime membership to encourage myself to practice more consistently.

It goes without saying that the list I’ve shared above is not exhaustive. What are some other ways you use your breaks? Write to us at to let us know!