This is What Happens When You Don't Take a Break from Work

This is What Happens When You Don't Take a Break from Work

Read Time: 5 Minutes


28 Jun 2017

When you’re incredibly busy and have a lot of work to sift through, it may seem like the only way to get everything done is by refusing to take a break until your list is complete. But failure to take a break from work will leave you feeling stressed, burnt-out and exhausted, which will result in you being a less productive and less enthusiastic at work.

Taking some time to clear your head will make you feel more focused and energised, which is vital if you want to finally get through that to-do list of yours!

If you’re guilty of settling with a ‘desk lunch’ and skipping coffee breaks, then keep reading to discover what the dangers of not taking a break from work are…

You Won’t Be As Good At Solving Problems and Executing Plans

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When you’re overworked, your brain won’t function as well as it normally would as it will have to work twice as hard to make decisions. Getting the right amount of sleep - which usually for adults is around seven to eight hours per night - is vital for a productive day at work. So, rather than staying late in the office, it will make you a much better worker if you go home and enjoy a rejuvenating night’s sleep instead and continue with your list tomorrow.

Maura Thomas, speaker, trainer and founder of, confirms that lack of sleep will negatively affect the way in which you make decisions and execute plans at the workplace.

‘‘When we don’t get enough sleep, our judgment and our ability to perform daily tasks suffer. We’re not as good at problem-solving or executing plans, and we’re prone to making errors in our working life.

An effective way to start fighting the harm of sleep deprivation is embracing the idea of napping at work. That’s what many successful, forward-thinking companies are already doing. HubSpot, Zappos and Nike offer nap rooms for employees.’’


It Can Strain Your Eyes

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Staring at a computer screen all day is incredibly harmful for your eyes. It’s vital that you take time during the working day to look away from the screen to give your eyes a rest.

Deborah Quilter from Movement Therapy says, ‘‘Lack of breaks is very bad for your eyes. You need to look away every 20 minutes or so and focus on something in the distance. It's nice to look at the window and allow your gaze to travel across a distant landscape.’’


You Will Become More Anxious and Irritable

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If you have an important meeting coming up , then naturally, you will have a lot of work to prepare and often very little time to do so. This can make it tempting to work through your lunch, stay late on an evening and take work home. However, by not allowing your brain to have a break from work you will exhaust yourself which could affect the quality of your work. 

Laura MacLeod, HR Expert from The Inside Out Project, offers her insight.

‘‘When we don't take breaks at work, we overtax body and mind…

Emotional - We become irritable, oversensitive, less patient and anxious.

Mental - Creativity suffers – it’s tough to find the energy to brainstorm and come up with solutions to problems and/or innovative ideas.

Physical - Exhaustion, lethargy and overall lack of energy. The fact is, the body and mind need rest. Recharge by taking short breaks to get back to working at your full potential.’’

You Won’t Manage Your Time Efficiently

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If you fail to take a break from work, even though you consider this as a way to save you time, you will be making yourself more tired and less productive. You’re skipping writing a to-do list because you’re unsure on where to start, you dodge important calls to try and get work done and you miss out on vital networking sessions just to get the daily tasks ticked-off.

In our Small Business Survey, we discovered that 27% of small business owners think bad time management is why they spend so much time on tasks which don’t help them make a profit. 

When you’re having your morning coffee, take some time to produce a carefully thought-out plan for the day, to make you feel more organised but to also prevent anything from slipping through the net.

We recently produced a FREE downable Time Management e-Book overflowing with tips and advice on how you can efficiently manage your time at work and feel a little less stressed.

You Will Struggle in Being Creative


All small business owners have to use their creativity when it comes to running a successful enterprise. Whether it’s planning an event, working on your marketing plans or simply considering décor plans for your office, you will need to use your creativity daily a lot more than you may think.

If you fail to take breaks at work you may struggle to think outside of the box and you will struggle to come up with innovative and fun ideas for your business.

Kristin, CEO of Nia Global Solutions, and entrepreneur, talks about how important taking a break at work is for you to think more creatively and our ability to solve problems.

‘‘I am confident in saying that less is more when it comes to the productive work day, and that each and every break I take serves me in clearing my mind, in increasing my ability to see the problems we are working to solve, and ultimately makes us more productive, if not more balanced humans. 

Breaks from work provide us all with different surroundings, with provide fresh perspectives and ability to widen our scope, and amplify our problem-solving abilities.’’

Should You Consider a Long Term Break?

Taking a gap year or career break is an option you might have considered. However, this is not a decision to be taken lightly; is it financially viable? Do you have a plan in place for getting back into work after the break? 

One thing we’d always recommend is to take your annual leave. All of it. Not all at once of course, but make sure you use it all up by the end of the year. If you feel stuck at work, give yourself a period of time to spend with friends and family – after all, that’s what your leave is there for!

Top Tips on Taking Breaks At Work:

  • Take a 15-minute break from work after a 4 ½ hour work period or a 30-minute break after a 6-hour work period;
  • Ensure to take frequent breaks from staring at your computer screen. Even something as simple as looking out of the window for 5-minutes can help your eyes feel less strained;
  • When you make time for a break, try and spend it outdoors and away from your usual working environment;
  • If you work on a computer, avoid scrolling through social media on your break or spending too much time on your phone. Shut off electronics and give your mind a rest;


One final note to take away - Always make time during your hectic working day to take frequent breaks away from your desk, your mind deserves it!



About the Author

Hi, I’m Ally and I’m instantprint’s PR Lead. I enjoy writing content to help small businesses succeed and inspire them to get creative with their print marketing.