The Power of Taking Breaks: How to Maximize Your Next 5-Minute Break
Are you looking to increase your sales productivity?
Many people (myself included) find The Pomodoro Technique to be a very powerful tool.
Here’s how it works:
- Decide on a task you need to accomplish
- Set a timer (usually for about 25 minutes)
- Focus only on the task at hand
- Stop when the timer goes off
- Take a 5 minute break
- Rinse and repeat
Okay, so it’s slightly more nuanced than that, but you get the gist.
Download our interactive information gathering worksheet for a framework to help you collect the right information from prospects and customers.
This method of sustained bursts of focused work makes time an ally, not a limited resource or stressor. It allows you to revisit a task with fresh eyes again and again, which is particularly helpful for strategizing or finding the solution to a challenge, like how to close a tough deal or position a new product in an already saturated, competitive marketplace.
The brain is built to detect and respond to change, so any stimulus, after a while, will start to disappear from our awareness. This is why you’re likely to lose focus if you try to work on a single task for several hours. The best way to combat brain fatigue is to schedule short breaks for yourself.
A good break takes your mind off the task at hand. It allows you to recharge.
If you’re doing a left brain task (like working on a pitch or talking to a client), a good break exercises your right brain (the creative and emotional side). This sort of break can “renew and strengthen motivation later on.”
What could you do in a 5 minute break? Let’s look at three ideas to get you started:
Proximity to nature is shown to boost well-being and reduce stress.
If you have a few minutes before your next call or meeting, take a walk outside of the office. Close to a park? Go there to enjoy the natural surroundings. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you return to office feeling more energized and ready to tackle your next project.
When I worked in an office that was a square block of concrete with windows that didn’t open, I’d go outside everyday on my lunch break and walk down a block to a co-op development. There was a little garden with some benches, and if it wasn’t too frigid (I live in Chicago where the prime outdoor months are June-Sept), I’d eat my lunch outdoors.
Invariably, I’d walk back to my desk with a renewed sense of focus and purpose, and usually an answer to a problem I couldn’t quite figure out in the morning.
The next time you’re feeling stressed out, consider how taking a walk could be just the motivation you need to keep going.
Get a Notebook
Something as simple as doodling on a napkin will take your mind off any nagging sales opportunities that just won’t progress in your pipeline. Drawing and daydreaming is a great workout for your right brain, because it stimulates your creativity and imagination.
As a salesperson, channeling your creative-thinking abilities provides a competitive advantage when creating proposals and sharing industry insight. Standing out from the crowd requires original ideas and innovation.
Another way to use a notebook is to free-write. Many creative types (i.e. creative professionals and anyone looking to “unblock” their artistic minds and live more creatively) turn to the Artist’s Way, which has you write stream-of-consciousness journal entries (or anything at all) every morning. This can be done any time of day and when done consistently, can help free your mind from anything that was distracting you from accomplishing the day’s work.
When you’re managing a sales pipeline full of opportunities, you’re likely to have what feels like an endless to-do list of creating proposals, following up, and continuous prospecting. If you take the time to write down everything on your mind, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and have more “headspace” to work with.
Laughter is shown to increase blood flow and improve memory.
Trying to avoid the mid-workday slump? Listening to a comedy podcast is a great way to get some laughs in before the clock runs out on your break.
Some of my personal favorites are 2 Dope Queens, a live podcast that features stand up comedians, and Hello from the Magic Tavern, which is set in a fictional world and follows a guy who fell into a magical portal behind a Burger King and his two companions, a wizard and a shapeshifting badger who hang out together in a tavern in the magical land of Foon. (Message me on LinkedIn if you need more recommendations. I’m a podcast fanatic.)
For sales reps, this is a great way to spend your time before a phone meeting. Your voice will carry the light-heartedness and enthusiasm that you’ll feel after having a good laugh. Being in a pleasant mood and displaying a positive attitude are contagious, pass it on to your clients and prospects.
What's Next? Time to Take a Break
Now that you know a few good reasons to take a breather from your work, give it a try by organizing the tasks you need to accomplish and then: pick one, set a timer, work for 25 minutes, and then rest for 5 minutes. During that break, distract yourself with a walk in the park, drawing, free-writing, or listening to something funny, and see how you feel when you go back to work.
Let's keep the momentum going. Here's a little something you can use after one of your next 5-minute breaks. Or, if you're feeling ambitious, read it during your break!
About Brittany Bookbinder
Brittany is an actor, writer, and Muppet enthusiastic. She grew up on Long Island, where her hobbies included writing love poems and watching TGIF, often at the same time. These days, she writes for Evil Studios Ltd., performs comedy and music, and makes video shorts independently and with the iO Comedy Network. She has performed in independent films, regional theatre, sketch comedy and improv all over Chicago. She is also an artistic collaborator with Theater Unspeakable, with whom she co-created Superman 2050 and Murder on the Midwest Express. She has performed Superman 2050 throughout the country, including Lincoln Center in NYC and the Kennedy Center in DC. Training: She holds a B.S. Theatre, a minor in Creative Writing and a certificate in Music Theatre from Northwestern University. She has studied acting at the School at Steppenwolf and British American Drama Academy. She has studied improv in the Second City Conservatory, iO Chicago, CIC Theatre and currently at the Annoyance. Brittany is a guest blog contributor for DMTraining.