How To Break Up Your Day Without Losing Productivity

By Amy Deacon

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When you're at work or in a working environment, it is always tempting to try to be as productive as possible for the entire duration. However, even the hardest workers cannot maintain peak productivity for eight or more hours every day. With that said, the most productive people manage to fit more in through planning ahead and optimizing their routines.

Times have mainly changed, and just because you're not at your desk doesn't necessarily mean you're not working – even if your boss tells you otherwise. Fortunately, the modern boss is often more interested in the work being done on time, no matter what you appear to be doing while you do it.

If you want to make the most of the working day without sacrificing productivity, try these tips to keep you focused, switched on getting things done.

1. Use the Time You Spend Walking Around

If you took the time to track how long you spend away from your main working area each day, like your desk, you would be surprised. Trips to the bathroom, popping out for lunch and going to a colleague to confer all adds up. However, if you can modify your mindset to ensure that you still get things done while you're up and about, you immediately unlock more productive minutes.

Think about the things you can do while away from your desk. It might not be your core role, but if you're moving around anyway, you might as well get those things done. That could be checking voicemails and emails, responding to engagement on social media, sending out meeting requests, or many other opportunities. Once you get into the habit, you suddenly have far more minutes in the day.

2. Prioritize Reading

Reading and productivity do not always go hand in hand unless you have a job as a researcher. However, taking in information in this way is proven to reduce stress while giving the focused mind a break from the task at hand.

Some people like to read a book for ten or fifteen minutes for this purpose. However, if you seek the pinnacle of productivity, you should take the time to find resources that directly impact your role. From the most junior positions to the company's head, there is always something new to learn about the job, industry, and contacts. Try to focus on reading articles from reputable sources of entire books from credible authors rather than blindly scrolling through social media.

3. Do Something Else at Your Desk

It is often a good idea to associate certain spaces with specific tasks. For example, many productive people view the desk as being for work, just as the bed is for sleeping and the kitchen for cooking. However, doing nothing but a single task becomes monotonous, which can soon lead to a lack of focus.

You don't have to leave your desk for a quick brain refresh, and you can still turn a few minutes of distraction into more productivity in the hours that follow. If the environment allows, you could try a brief meditation. If you want to do something on the computer with nothing to do with work, play a quick and easy game like Spider Solitaire Challenge. Even doodling or jotting down ideas ensures your brain remains engaged, so you don't want to stop completely, but it gives you time to reflect and refresh before getting back to work.

4. Go for a Chat With a Colleague

Some prefer offices, while others like working from home. One advantage the former has is that many offices are a hub of ideas, even if they are not treated as such. A quick conversation can quickly turn into a new idea or a suggestion. If you approach the discussion with productivity in mind, your co-workers might have ideas to share or things that work for them. In addition, they might have broader ideas about the team and department that streamlines processes and make life easier.

Suddenly, a few minutes of a seemingly idle chat can make the coming hours and days far more productive than they otherwise would have been.

If you're in the mindset that if you do anything less than eight hours of productive, measurable work in a day, then you're not doing things correctly, that's an immediate opportunity for change. Optimize the time spent away from the desk to ensure that the hours spent at it make the most of your energy and focus. Don't be afraid to complete seemingly innocuous tasks that don't contribute directly to the primary goal. Ultimately, you'll feel better about yourself and get far more done.


Amy is a business coach and speaker who creates solutions for businesses seeking to change attitudes and routines to boost productivity throughout the workplace.

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