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PPI #62: Add These Breaks To Increase Productivity

Eric Partaker


  • In this episode, I share six different types of break that will help you increase your productivity. For a time, I used to think that productivity was only achieved through a lot of input but over time, I realised that approach diminishes productivity in the long run. After I added these six different breaks, my productivity went through the roof. 
  • The first break is called the micro-break, the 16-minute 40-second break. Most people don’t take a break after a few hours, and what they don’t know is that it actually slows down their thinking. So every 16 minutes and 40 seconds (a total of 1000 seconds) get up and move around for just a minute or two. The idea here is that you are not constantly in a seated position for hours on end.
  • The second break is the macro break, a 50-10 hourly break. After 50 minutes of working, you get up and take a break for 10 minutes. That might seem like a waste of time but from my personal experience this routine has allowed me to outperform my old self and has let me take that recovery period where I come back to work with  renewed focus and energy.
  • The third one is a weekly break routine, the weekends. You should respect your Saturdays and Sundays by taking a break from work. This will help you produce better output from Monday to Frida because you come back from the weekend with proper rest.
  • The fourth one is getaways. These are things you can do on a quarterly basis, whether with friends or family. You can stay at a hotel, take a short flight, drive around and take a day off for an extra Friday or Monday. The idea behind this is that you are experiencing something new and different. You are breaking away from your current environment and creating that space to appreciate the things in your life, both personally and professionally.
  • The fifth one is the annual vacations. We have our holiday planning, but I suggest that once or twice a year, you schedule a vacation in advance so you can have something to look forward to. You are creating movement and re-energizing yourself because you are excited about something.
  • The sixth one is called the digital sunset. Every night an hour before bedtime, you switch off all of your electronic devices. By doing this, you are preventing blue light that inhibits melatonin production from going into your eyes, inducing the deepest and best state of sleep you need in those eight hours.


For years, I was obsessed with trying to improve my productivity, trying to get the absolute greatest amount of output for the least amount of input. But it wasn’t until I mastered what I’m going to talk to you about today, the power of breaks and specific types of break routines, that my productivity really reached its full potential.

Hi. My name is Eric Partaker and I help entrepreneurs and leaders scale up, not just their companies, but also themselves so that they can reach their full potential in all that they’re doing in business and in life. Today we’re talking about productivity, but we’re not coming at it from the typical angle. We’re coming at it from the angle of recovery or breaks because those people who take significantly more breaks throughout their day on average will outperform, outproduce, be more productive than another group of people that is not taking regular breaks throughout their day. But there are six different types of breaks that we need to master in our routines to maximize our productivity.

Number one is the micro break. Most people don’t take a break until say after one, two, three hours of work. What I would like you to start trying to do is set a timer for 16 minutes, 40 seconds, 1,000 seconds and every 16 minutes, 40 seconds, when that 1,000 second timer goes off, that’s your cue to stop being in your seated position, get up, move around. Even if it’s just for a minute or two, move your legs, sit back down. It might sound like a crazy thing to do and a bit of a waste of time, but when we’re seated too long, it actually starts to slow down our productivity, starts to slow down our thinking and we need to re-energize with that micro break routine. Now, you don’t have to do it exactly 16 minutes and 40 seconds. I just kind of like the 1,000 seconds thing, but you could set it anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes, but it’s just a quick one. Timer goes off, stand up, sit back down, or stand up, move around a little bit and sit back down.

The next break routine that you need to master or install is a 50 minute, or you could think of it as an hourly break. I generally set it for about 50 minutes. So every 50 minutes, I get up and I take a 10 minute break. This isn’t a break to do another form of work. This is a break where you’re genuinely switching off from work. And what I’ve noticed, by the way, is that when I would work three hours straight in the past and instead, suddenly only be working for it… Well, you have those micro breaks that I just described, but working for say 50 minute chunks and then taking those 10 minutes off. So in a three hour period, I’m working actually only two and a half hours, right, compared to working three hours straight, but I was outproducing my old self and that’s because I was getting that recovery that I needed to keep going at the higher level that I wanted to be playing at.

The next break routine that you need to install, it happens every single week, it’s called the weekend, but people don’t generally respect the weekends. They continue working often Saturdays and Sundays, not all people, but a lot of people. And if that describes you, then you should really switch off on the weekend because by switching off, you will actually produce more Monday through Friday than if you’re constantly working at breakneck speed with no breaks at all.

After our weekend, the next break I want to get into your mind is the getaway. These are things that you could be doing, say on a quarterly basis, perhaps with your family or friends. I like to think of it as just like a long weekend. Not a full trip, but just an extra… Maybe it’s a Friday or a Monday added where you’re taking a day off to the weekend and you’re going somewhere. You’re jumping in the car or taking a short flight and you’re just getting away. You’re experiencing something different or new. Stay in a hotel. Just get away from your current environment. The act of doing that will improve your productivity as well because it just refreshes you. It puts you in a different scene and allows you to better appreciate everything that you’ve created in your life and that you’re doing professionally.

And then we have our annual vacation planning. So of course, we have our holiday planning, but I would also encourage you to try to pick at least one or two other times during the year, booked in advance so you have something to look forward to that you’re going to be doing with your family as a family vacation or with friends, however you like to travel and take your breaks. Now, installing all of these break routines will dramatically improve your productivity because you have something to look forward to. You’re creating some movement and reenergizing yourself, depending on which type of break we’re talking about, and you’re giving yourself that recovery that you need because we can’t continue to produce at a high level if we’re always on and not also trying to be off as well.

Now, the last break routine, because I said six, so last break routine. It happens every single night. It’s called sleep and you need to be getting eight hours of sleep every night. I would suggest, if you haven’t tried this before, do what’s called a digital sunset where an hour before bedtime, you turn off all the electronics so that the blue light going into your eyes doesn’t inhibit the melatonin production, which is what happens if you have too much electronic light going into the eyes. So an hour before bedtime, shut off all of the electronic lights so that you got as much melatonin flowing through your body as possible, which will induce the deepest state of sleep so you get those full eight hours.

Add these different break routines to your life; the micro break, the 16 minutes 40 seconds, the 50 minute break, the macro break, make sure that you’re actually appreciating the weekend and taking the time off. Do the getaways. Once a quarter, add an extra Friday or Monday. Do your annual vacation planning. Make sure you’re getting those eight hours of sleep a night and your productivity will go through the roof.

Eric has been named "CEO of the Year" at the 2019 Business Excellence Awards, one of the "Top 30 Entrepreneurs in the UK" by Startups Magazine, and among "Britain's 27 Most Disruptive Entrepreneurs" by The Telegraph.

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