Are you feeling like your to-do list will never get done? Is your day filled with back-to-back tasks? Do you believe you can’t spare an extra five minutes devoted to anything but work?

When you see all the items you checked off your list, you probably feel like your day was worthwhile, but it might not have been all that productive. Here’s why.

You focus better when you take breaks. This applies to technical writers and instructional designers in the office environment, yet can be equally or more critical to freelancers. Sometimes working from home can blur the line between work time and personal time.

Breaks challenge monotony, improve mood and energy, and enhance productivity.

Breaks Shake Up Monotony

With your eyes glued to your screen, it’s easy to let an hour, then two, then three slip by while you’re hard at work. You really want to get away from your desk for a minute, but there just isn’t time.

Well, you should make time. If you stay at your keyboard except for bathroom breaks, the monotony can induce restlessness and boredom – enemies of innovation.

Need some help keeping track of when you should take breaks? Try the DeskTime app.

Breaks Improve Your Mood and Energy – Even Reduce Food Cravings

You’re dedicated to your project nonstop, for hours on end. You finally tear your focus away from work long enough to realize your shoulders are hunched by your ears. An uncomfortable pain pinches the base of your neck, and strain throbs behind your eyes. You feel dizzy with your first full breath in hours, which has starved your brain of oxygen – and probably starved your project of several good ideas, too.

Your brain needs plenty of oxygen to function optimally, and the best way to get it is by moving around. Additionally, people who spend a majority of their workday at a desk show increased rates of diabetes, obesity and depression. “Microbouts” of activity have been found to improve mood and boost stamina all day, plus reduce food cravings at work, according to the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Breaks Improve Work Intensity and Productivity

More frequent breaks increase your output. While five minutes every hour is a good goal, the optimal is a more generous ratio: 52 and 17, also known as the Pomodoro Technique. Creators of the DeskTime app, the Draugeim Group, designed an experiment using DeskTime. They tracked how their top-performing employees used their time.

Data showed these top performers with the most productivity and output worked on average 52 minutes, and then took a break for 17 minutes. That break recharged them to put their all into the following hour of work. Despite the 17 minutes of downtime, these employees produced better quality work at a faster pace.

Refresh Your Break Time

Are you finally convinced those extra five minutes – or more – of downtime are worthwhile? Click here for ways to make your breaks more refreshing.