The most effective breaks help us to switch off and give our brain and body a chance to reset. Ideally, we would use this time to step away from our screens, including phones. Even the presence of a phone nearby has been found to increase the stress hormone cortisol. Whether we take solo breaks or connect with a colleague, taking a break helps to clear our minds and refocus.

On the way to and from work

  • Take notice of your surroundings or read a book instead of scrolling through your phone during your commute

While working

  • Keep your phone in your bag or locker, or at least face down when at a desk
  • Try the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes, look away from your screen at something which is 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds to give your eyes a break
  • Sit back in your chair and daydream/reset for a few minutes
  • Talk to people instead of emailing
  • Put away your technology and really focus on the person you are with and give them your full attention

In your breaks

  • Set timers to get up for 5 mins each hour – for a drink, toilet, walk around the office or building
  • Eat lunch away from your desk, or even outside if it’s a nice day
  • Put your phone away while you eat
  • Bring a novel or something fun to read in your breaks

Set yourself up for success

  • Use an alarm clock to set alarms, not your phone
  • Turn off as many notifications as possible, especially push notifications
  • Turn on automatic replies, use them to set expectations for when you are contactable and when people can expect to receive a reply from you. Do the same with your phone’s voicemail
  • Turn off your phone when possible
  • Set your phone to silent/vibrate/do not disturb mode
  • Designate “screen-free time”
  • To reduce light damage to your eyes, turn down the screen’s brightness and try a program such as Flux that helps reduce blue light at night-time
  • Unsubscribe from newsletters in your inbox you never read so you spend less time sorting through emails you don’t need
  • Find a screen detox buddy to set goals and keep you on track