On of the greatest leverages you can have on your productivity, if you’re working full-time, is paradoxical: It’s not working more, or smarter (though the latter might help). It’s taking more – and better – breaks.

This topic warrants a much longer post, but for now I will leave you with this and one simple technique:

1. Research on breaks

There was a study on what differentiates the top 1% from the top 0,1% of tennis players (I’m making the numbers up, but it was something in that area).

The one defining factor in their performance was not how much they trained, how good their technique was, or what they ate (there were no significant differences). The one decisive factor was how high the quality of their breaks in-game was.

The top 0,1% had consistently lower heart-rates in in-game breaks and other shit going on (don’t make me research this, I read it in a good book and so on!).

Anyway.

2. How to do it

There are thousand ways, I’m telling you about one I’m using almost every day.

Whenever I take a break, I picture myself sitting on a beach, pulling up the “beach-feeling” from my emotional memory. I tell myself: “There’s nothing to do, nothing to think about, I can completely relax. Everything’s fine.”

The shortcut to this image is the color yellow. So whenever I’m on a break (and I have a regular schedule for this), and I realize that my thoughts are still spinning, or I’m still stressed, I think “yellow”. I get back to the beach feeling, and it calms me down. (Same when I’m going to sleep and my head feels like a carousel of unfinished business.)

And I find I’m much more relaxed – and thus more productive – when I get back to work afterwards.

What do you do to take good breaks?

(This is the article of day 11 of the 30 day blog challenge. To be notified of new posts, subscribe to the mailinglist on the right.)

Photo credit: Fifth World Art