About Coffee Breaks. Once we believe…

Gary Whitley taking one of many coffee breaks on the Oregon Coast. Before Starbucks this was how we did it!
Before Starbucks this is how we did it. Me sometime last century.



“When the going gets tough, the tough take a coffee break.”

–Stephen Hawking

“Coffee keeps me going until it’s time for wine.”

– Unknown


“Once we believe in ourselves


we can risk curiosity,


wonder, spontaneous delight,


or any other experience that reveals


the human spirit.”

– e.e.cummings
…As long as there is Coffee!

Being self-employed and working from home I used to work long days fueled by coffee, cigarettes and fear. Fear of never getting more work. I even did my share of all-nighters where I had to deliver the job the next day. Those were brutal and I eventually learned they weren’t worth the stress. Those jobs were mostly for advertising agencies that needed the work ASAP and then wouldn’t pay until 45-60 days out. But I had a family to support at the time and took most anything that came along. I would forget to take breaks for hours at a time. That turns even fun projects into drudgery or even worse–W.O.R.K.

I don’t do that any more. Now I love my coffee breaks.

Coffee my precious. © gary whitley

Where did the coffee break originate? From the Rogers Family Coffee Company website: “there’s always speculation about who, when, where, and how the “Coffee Break” had come about.  It allegedly originated in the late 19th century in Stoughton, Wisconsin by immigrant women who took mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks from their shifts to go home and tend to their children.  All the while, they were free to snack or have a cup of coffee during the break.”

Every 1 1/2 to 2 hours I stop what I am doing and do something else. It doesn’t always involve coffee. Sometimes its going outside, taking a walk, pulling weeds, appreciating the weather, anything. It gives my remaining brain cells a little recharge and reset plus a new perspective when I get back to work. Mentally stepping back and then observing as with a new set of eyes keeps me fresh and motivated to create for another 2 hours. Doing this breaks up even the most complex assignments into bite sized chunks of manageable time, energy and attention. That keeps me from over thinking, so it works well for me.

And it’s not just me: There are a number of studies to support the idea that taking regular breaks boosts workplace culture and productivity. Breaks can help:

  • Keep people focused: A 2011 study in the journal Cognition found that brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to concentrate.
  • Relieve stress: A study in Symbolic Reaction found that having coffee breaks with coworkers helped a group of Denmark employees cope after a large-scale merger.
  • Boost productivity: MIT studied call center workers at Bank of America. After one month, researchers found that workers who talked more to co-workers got through calls faster and felt less stressed. Bank of America changed coffee breaks to allow for more interactions, and within a few months reported productivity gains of about $15 million a year.
  • Recharge your energy: The Energy Project, a New York City-based productivity consulting firm, found that without any downtime, people are less efficient, make more mistakes, and are less engaged in what they’re doing.

Next time you are considering skipping that coffee break, don’t. It’s not just about the coffee, it’s about the break.

Tell me about your coffee breaks. Send me a photo of things you do on your breaks. Any good stories?

P.S. Once again I’m calling on all Grammar Police and Spelling Wizards to comment on any errors or omissions you may find in any of my posts. It will help make me a better writer, give me a thicker skin and bring a bright smile to your face knowing you have once again rescued the english language from certain annihilation.

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