024 Why Breaks are Essential for Long-Term Success

taking breaks is an important part of your decluttering journey

Today, we’re tackling a topic that’s often overlooked in our go-go-go world: taking breaks.

We all know the feeling – packed schedules, endless deadlines, and a constant feeling of being overwhelmed. But in the midst of these responsibilities, it’s easy to forget the importance of giving ourselves a mental break.

We’ll be exploring why breaks are essential for long-term success. We’ll discuss the negative consequences of skipping breaks, how to effectively declutter your schedule to make room for them, and some practical tips on how to actually take a break and recharge.

So, whether you’re a self-proclaimed workaholic or someone who constantly feels like you’re drowning in tasks, this episode is for you. Let’s learn how to declutter our schedules and prioritize our well-being!

Why breaks matter

Our brains are incredible machines, but just like any other muscle, they need rest to function at their best. When we constantly push ourselves without taking breaks, we experience a phenomenon called decision fatigue I recommend listening to episode 22 “The dark side of decluttering: decision fatigue” as I go into more details. Essentially, our ability to make sound choices and focus on tasks diminishes.

Think about it this way. If you hit the gym and lift weights every single day without giving your muscles a chance to recover, they’ll eventually become overworked and sore. You won’t be able to perform at your peak and risk injuring yourself. The same thing happens to our brains when we skip breaks.

The downside of skipping breaks

While you might think powering through your day without stopping makes you more productive, research actually shows the opposite. When we constantly push ourselves without taking breaks, our focus starts to wane. This means our ability to concentrate on tasks diminishes, and the quality of our work suffers. Imagine trying to write a complex report after staring at a computer screen for hours without a break. Chances are, your thoughts will be scattered, your writing will lack clarity, and you’ll likely end up making more mistakes.

Skipping breaks also leads to heightened stress levels.

The constant pressure to be “on” takes a toll on our mental and physical health. This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as increased anxiety, headaches, and even exhaustion. Just like a car engine that needs to cool down periodically, our brains also need time to rest and recharge. If we don’t give them that break, we risk overheating and ultimately breaking down.

The most severe consequence of neglecting breaks is burnout. This is a state of spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged or excessive stress. Symptoms of burnout can include fatigue, cynicism, feelings of detachment, and reduced productivity. Recovering from burnout can be a very long and difficult process.

So, taking breaks isn’t just about feeling good in the moment – it’s essential for your long-term success and well-being.

Declutter your schedule for breaks

Now that we’ve established the importance of breaks, let’s talk about how to actually make them happen. The first step involves decluttering your schedule. This can feel daunting, but it’s worth the effort.

Here are some strategies to help you reclaim your time:

  • Identify Your Time Wasters: Be honest with yourself about where your precious minutes disappear. How much time do you spend mindlessly scrolling through social media or checking your email when it’s not urgent? Are there meetings you can delegate or skip altogether? Try tracking your time for a few days to gain a clear picture of your activities. Once you know where your time goes, you can start identifying areas where you can free up some space for breaks.
  • Set Realistic Goals:  Setting unrealistic goals for yourself sets you up for disappointment and frustration. Start by setting achievable goals throughout the day. This doesn’t mean giving yourself a free pass to slack off, but rather acknowledging your limits and planning breaks in a way that allows you to maintain focus and energy levels. Scheduling breaks throughout the day will help you stay on track and prevent burnout.
  • Embrace the Power of “No”: You don’t have to be a “yes” person all the time. It’s perfectly okay to say no to additional commitments if your plate is already overflowing.  Remember, protecting your time is essential for prioritizing your well-being.  Learning to say no to requests that would overload your schedule allows you to focus on what’s truly important and ensures you have time for the breaks you need.
  • Schedule Your Breaks: Treat your breaks like important appointments.  Block out dedicated time slots in your calendar and stick to them just as you would a client meeting or a doctor’s appointment. Scheduling your breaks ensures that you actually take the time for yourself, allowing you to truly disconnect and recharge.

Decluttering your schedule is an ongoing process. Don’t get discouraged if it takes some time to find what works best for you. Remember, it’s an investment in your long-term productivity and happiness.

Taking the perfect break

Alright, so you’ve decluttered your schedule and booked some well-deserved breaks. But what do you do with that time?

Here are some tips on how to make your breaks truly effective:

  • Disconnect: This means stepping away from your devices and avoiding the temptation to check work emails or messages. This is your time to truly unplug and recharge.
  • Do Something You Enjoy: Whether it’s reading a good book, taking a walk in nature, listening to music, or pursuing a creative hobby, choose an activity that brings you joy and relaxation.
  • Short Breaks Throughout the Day: Even a few minutes can make a difference. Get up and stretch, do some deep breathing exercises, or step outside for some fresh air.
  • Longer Breaks During the Week: Schedule a dedicated time during your workday to completely disconnect and recharge. Take a walk, listen to a podcast, or grab lunch with a friend.
  • Weekend Getaways: Plan regular weekend getaways or staycations to break from your routine and explore new places or simply relax at home.

Remember, the best kind of break is the one that allows you to truly disconnect and come back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Beyond breaks: Building a sustainable lifestyle

Taking breaks is crucial, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. To truly thrive, we need to build a sustainable lifestyle that prioritizes our overall well-being. Here are some additional practices that can make a big difference:

  • Prioritize Sleep:  Just like a car needs regular gas to run smoothly, our bodies need quality sleep to function at their best. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. This allows your brain to recharge, consolidate memories, and regulate hormones that impact mood and energy levels. When you’re well-rested, you’ll find yourself feeling more focused, productive, and able to handle stress better.
  • Maintain a Healthy Diet:  The food we eat has a profound impact on both our physical and mental health. Nourishing your body with whole foods rich in essential nutrients provides the fuel you need to tackle your day with energy and focus. Opt for whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein sources instead of processed foods that can leave you feeling sluggish and drained.
  • Exercise Regularly:  Physical activity isn’t just about looking good; it’s a powerful tool for boosting mood, reducing stress, and increasing energy levels. Find an exercise routine you enjoy, whether it’s hitting the gym, going for a brisk walk, or dancing in your living room. Even short bursts of activity throughout the day can make a significant difference. Regular exercise helps combat stress hormones, elevates endorphins (natural mood boosters), and improves overall sleep quality – all contributing to a more balanced and resilient state of being.

By taking care of ourselves holistically, we can build resilience and prevent burnout.


So, there you have it! Taking breaks isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of strength. By decluttering your schedule, prioritizing self-care, and taking time for yourself, you can actually become more productive and successful in the long run.

Remember, your well-being matters. Don’t wait until you’re burnt out to take a break. Start incorporating breaks into your routine today and see the difference it makes in your life.

Episode Timestamps

[1:20] Our ability to make sound choices and focus on tasks diminishes.

[3:17] The first step involves decluttering your schedule.

[4:23] Schedule your breaks.

[6:31] The food we eat has a profound impact on both our physical and mental health.

[7:11] Regular exercise helps combat stress hormones.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

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Episode 22

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Heather Clark declutter expert

Heather Clark, Declutter Expert

Helping you navigate the change by decluttering your MIND | BODY | SOUL | HOME.

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