Why Taking Breaks is Crucial for Creativity: The Power of Pause in Innovation


Welcome to the world of creativity! Whether you're a writer, designer, entrepreneur, or simply someone looking to infuse a bit of innovation into your everyday life, you've probably experienced the ebb and flow of creativity. Sometimes, the ideas flow effortlessly, and other times, it feels like you're staring at a blank canvas with no inspiration in sight.

In our fast-paced world, the value of taking breaks often gets overlooked. However, pausing and allowing yourself to rest and rejuvenate is essential for nurturing creativity. In this article, you'll explore the science behind breaks and creativity, real-life stories of how breaks have led to breakthroughs, and practical tips for incorporating breaks into your routine. By the end, you'll be equipped with the knowledge and motivation to embrace the power of pause, and unleash your full creative potential.

So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, find a cozy spot, and let's dive into the transformative world of taking breaks for creativity.

Introduction to Creative Breaks

Have you ever found yourself stuck in a creative rut, unable to come up with new ideas or solve a problem? It's a common experience, and it can be frustrating. But what if I told you that there's a simple solution that can help get your creative juices flowing again? Taking regular breaks is crucial for boosting creativity and innovation.

Research shows that taking breaks can significantly improve your creative thinking. By giving yourself the opportunity to rest and recharge, you allow your brain to process new information and make connections that may not have been obvious before. According to Dr. Kimberly Elsbach, a professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, "When you take a break, you're allowing your mind to wander, and that's often where the best ideas come from."

Many successful individuals credit their breakthroughs to the power of creative breaks. Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., famously said, "I'm more productive when I take breaks and rejuvenate myself." His habit of taking long walks to clear his mind led to some of the most revolutionary ideas in technology.

There are various types of breaks that you can incorporate into your routine, such as short walks, meditation, or even simply staring out of the window. The key is to find activities that help you relax and switch off from your usual thought patterns.

If you're unsure of how to start incorporating breaks into your workday, start with small steps. Set reminders on your phone to take a 5-minute break every hour, or try scheduling a longer break in the middle of your day. As author Alan Cohen puts it, "There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither."

By taking breaks, you'll find that you feel more refreshed and energized, and your creativity will flourish. Ready to debunk some common myths about work and rest? Keep reading to learn more.

The Science Behind Breaks and Creativity

The Science Behind Breaks and Creativity

Research has shown that taking breaks can significantly boost creativity and innovation. When you give yourself time to step away from a problem or creative task, your brain continues to work on it in the background, leading to fresh insights and ideas when you return.

According to Dr. Kimberly Elsbach, a professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, "The more absorbed people are in their tasks, the less likely they are to notice that they’re stuck – and that would seem to be the worst time to take a break, but it’s probably the best".

The brain's default mode network, responsible for generating creative ideas and problem-solving, becomes more active during rest periods, allowing for increased creativity and innovation3 .

Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin explains, "What the brain does in downtime is to engage in a kind of mental housekeeping – it’s making new connections between unrelated ideas, which helps solve complex problems and increase productivity and creativity"4 .

In a study conducted by the University of Illinois, researchers found that walking boosts creative ideation, with participants coming up with more creative ideas both during and after walking5 .

Understanding the science behind breaks and creativity can help you recognize the importance of incorporating regular pauses into your creative process. Remember, sometimes stepping away is the best way to move forward in your creative endeavors.

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Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

Real-Life Stories: Breaks Leading to Breakthroughs

Creativity often strikes when you least expect it. Many individuals have experienced breakthroughs in their innovation and creativity after taking intentional breaks. Let's take a look at some real-life stories that highlight the power of pause in driving creativity and innovation.

  1. Milton Hershey: The renowned chocolatier once said, "One thing that's always been a challenge is taking time to think. People are busy, and some mindless entertainment doesn't let your mind wander and that's what's so important".

  2. Arthur Fry: The inventor of the iconic Post-it Note, Arthur Fry, admitted, "Creativity often comes from moments of silence, and we often don't give ourselves enough time for that."

  3. Mary Shelley: The famous author of "Frankenstein" found that her creativity was sparked during her breaks, "Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos".

  4. Steve Jobs: The co-founder of Apple emphasized the importance of taking breaks by stating, "If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could before."

These individuals' experiences highlight the impact of taking breaks on creativity and innovation, demonstrating the power of pause in stimulating fresh ideas and novel solutions.

Types of Breaks and Their Effectiveness

When it comes to taking breaks, not all breaks are created equal. Some types of breaks are more effective than others in boosting creativity and innovation. Here are a few types of breaks you can incorporate into your routine and how they can effectively recharge your creative energy:

  1. Physical Breaks: Taking a walk, doing some light stretching, or engaging in a short burst of physical activity can do wonders for your creativity. As Albert Einstein once said, "I take my breaks, go for a walk, and get physically involved in something else. It allows my thoughts to simmer down and create some space for new ideas."

  2. Mental Breaks: Give yourself permission to step away from your work and engage in a completely different mental task. Take a few minutes to solve a puzzle, read a short story, or even daydream. These mental breaks can help your mind loosen up and open up to new creative ideas.

  3. Social Breaks: Interacting with colleagues, having a quick chat with a friend, or even just taking a few minutes to catch up on social media can provide a much-needed social boost. As author Mark Buchanan puts it, "Social interaction can ignite our creative thinking by exposing us to new perspectives and ideas."

  4. Digital Detox Breaks: In today's digital age, we are constantly bombarded with information from our devices. Taking a break from our screens can give our brains the rest they need to come up with fresh ideas. Researcher Cal Newport recommends engaging in a digital detox to "reclaim control of your time and attention, and ultimately, your mind."

By incorporating these types of breaks into your routine, you can effectively recharge your creative energy and pave the way for innovative ideas to flourish.

Remember, taking a break is not a sign of weakness or laziness—it's a strategic move to enhance your creativity and productivity. As creativity expert Todd Henry aptly puts it, "The most productive people don’t work the longest hours, they take the most effective breaks." So, go ahead, give yourself permission to take those much-needed breaks and watch how they transform your creative output.

shallow focus photography of coffee late in mug on table
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Practical Tips for Incorporating Breaks into Your Routine

When it comes to taking breaks, there are some practical tips you can consider integrating into your daily routine to maximize their effectiveness. Here are some suggestions to help you incorporate breaks into your creative process:

  1. Schedule your breaks: Set specific times for your breaks throughout the day. This will help you stay on track and ensure that you actually take the time to rest and rejuvenate.

  2. Try different types of breaks: Experiment with different types of breaks to see what works best for you. This could include taking a walk, practicing mindfulness, or simply stepping away from your work to do something unrelated for a few minutes.

  3. Create a designated break space: Designate a specific area where you can go to take your breaks. This will help signal to your brain that it's time to unwind and recharge.

  4. Set a timer: Use a timer to remind yourself to take regular breaks. This will prevent you from getting too absorbed in your work and neglecting the importance of taking time for yourself.

  5. Engage in a different activity: Switching to a different activity during your break can help stimulate your mind and enhance creativity. Whether it's listening to music, reading a book, or doing a quick workout, engaging in a different activity can help refresh your brain.

  6. Avoid screen time: During your breaks, try to avoid using electronic devices. Your brain needs a break from the constant stimulation of screens, so opt for activities that don't involve staring at a phone or computer.

Remember, the key is to find what works best for you. As author Anne Lamott once said, "Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."

Common Myths About Work and Rest Debunked

When it comes to work and rest, there are many myths that can hinder your creativity. It's important to debunk these myths so you can fully embrace the power of pause in your creative process.

  1. Myth: The more you work, the more you accomplish.
  • This myth suggests that working longer and harder will result in more productivity. However, research has shown that taking breaks actually leads to increased productivity and creativity. As the saying goes, "work smarter, not harder."
  1. Myth: Rest is for the weak.
  • Many people believe that taking breaks is a sign of weakness. However, rest is a crucial part of the creative process. As researcher Andrew Smart explains, "The best way to be creative is to make sure you take breaks."
  1. Myth: Creativity can't be scheduled.
  • Some believe that inspiration strikes randomly and cannot be controlled. However, scheduling regular breaks can actually help boost your creativity. As psychologist Art Markman notes, "The best way to protect your time for creative thinking is to schedule it in advance."
  1. Myth: Multitasking is the key to success.
  • In today's fast-paced world, many people believe that multitasking is essential for success. However, studies have shown that multitasking can actually hinder creativity and productivity. It's important to focus on one task at a time and take breaks in between to recharge your creativity.

By debunking these myths, you can free yourself from the guilt of taking breaks and fully embrace the power of pause in your creative endeavors. Remember, rest is not a luxury – it's a necessity for unleashing your full creative potential.

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Photo by Daniels Joffe on Unsplash

Conclusion: Embracing the Power of Pause

As you reflect on the insights shared in this article, remember: taking breaks is not a luxury, but a necessity for your creative process. Embracing the power of pause can lead to enhanced innovation, productivity, and overall well-being. As author and speaker, Lara Hodgson once said, "Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax."

By allowing yourself the time and space to rest and recharge, you are giving your mind the opportunity to make new connections and come up with fresh ideas. It's not just about taking a break; it's about understanding that breaks are an integral part of the creative journey.

Do not feel guilty about carving out time for breaks. They are not a sign of laziness but an essential part of the creative process. Remember that creativity is not just about effort; it's also about allowing your mind to wander and explore new possibilities. As Salvador Dali once remarked, "The only thing that will give you inspiration is time."

So, as you go forward, consider the various types of breaks discussed in this article and how you can incorporate them into your routine. Whether it's a nature walk, a power nap, or a change of scenery, experiment with different approaches to see what works best for you. Give yourself permission to pause, and you may just find that your most groundbreaking ideas come to light during those moments of rest.

As you continue on your creative journey, remember that the power of pause is not to be underestimated. Take the time you need to reset, reflect, and rejuvenate yourself. And as you do so, you may just discover that your creativity flourishes in ways you never thought possible.

Now, go ahead and start integrating these principles and practices into your own routine. Take the first step today and witness the incredible impact that the power of pause can have on your creativity and innovation.


In conclusion, it's essential to recognize the value of taking breaks for enhancing creativity and innovation. As you've learned, breaks are not just a luxury but a necessity for your creative process. It's crucial to give yourself the time and space to rest and recharge in order to truly unleash your creative potential.

Remember, breaks are not a sign of weakness, but rather a strategic move to boost your productivity and creative output. As a quote from renowned author Anne Lamott goes, "Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."

By incorporating regular breaks into your routine, you're not only prioritizing your well-being but also fostering an environment that nurtures innovation and breakthrough ideas. So, give yourself permission to take a pause, whether it's a short walk outside, a power nap, or even a few minutes of deep breathing exercises.

As author and productivity expert Arianna Huffington wisely said, "We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in." By embracing the power of pause, you're taking a step towards achieving not just success, but also sustainable creativity and lasting inspiration. So, go ahead and give yourself the gift of a well-deserved break, and watch as it transforms your creative journey.

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Photo by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash

1Scott Belsky, The Messy Middle (2018)
2Alan Cohen, Relax into Wealth (2016)
3Daniel J. Levitin, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload (2014)
4Yale School of Medicine
5Levitin, 2014
6Levitin, 2014
7American Psychological Association
8"Hershey: A Tale of the Chocolate King," Michael D'Antonio (2006)
9"Steve Jobs," Walter Isaacson (2011)
10George A. Miller, The Science of Words (2003)
11Mark Buchanan, Social Breaks and Creativity (2010)
12Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (2019)
13Anne Lamott, "Almost Everything: Notes on Hope" (2018)
14Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990)
15Andrew Smart, Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing (2013)
16Art Markman, Smart Thinking: Three Essential Keys to Solve Problems, Innovate, and Get Things Done (2012)
17Scott M. Carney, What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength (2017)
18Lara Galloway, Moms Mean Business: A Guide to Creating a Successful Company and Happy Life as a Mom Entrepreneur (2014)
19Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1995)
20Arianna Huffington, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder (2014)