Brain Breaks Aren’t Just for Kids

This one’s for peeps like me, who wake with the best intentions for productivity, but as the day unwinds, struggle to keep on task.

Do you ever get tired of hearing boring old solutions for staying focused? Strategies like the following that are supposed to keep your rear in your seat and your fingers moving, brain working, etc.

  • Turn off your smartphone
  • Shut down your email and only check it once a day
    (Okay, these first two might actually be super helpful and solve all your problems)
  • Go for a walk to stretch your legs or move your body in some way
  • Write in your journal (wait, why is this on the list?)
  • If engaged in a writing task, reread the last thing you wrote
  • Work on what gets you most excited
  • Take on the biggest assignment you have for the day (if you have to eat three frogs, start with the biggest, right?)

All good ideas.

Which one got you pumped and ready to click clack your keys across the keyboard, making whatever brand of magic it is you make?

Let me guess, journal writing only, but none of the others.

In that case, might I suggest an alternative? The next time you’re struggling to maintain your focus, try a silly story. A really silly story. One a kid might write.

Here’s a start:

Once upon a time there was a ketchup loving dragon. She would turn whole trees into a plate of giant, twig-shaped french fries, cover them in ketchup, and eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

She put ketchup on her eggs, her ice cream, and even her lollipops. When she was feeling desperate, she would dip her toes in ketchup just to lick them clean.

Other dragons would pillage a town looking for treasure. She would visit a village seeking only the red condiment she wanted with everything.

Her cave had two enormous piles. One of empty ketchup bottles and another of full ketchup bottles. As time passed, the pile of empty ketchup bottles far outgrew the pile of full ketchup bottles, and she began to worry about running out of ketchup.

“What will I do?” She cried aloud to the cave dwelling creatures who were never far from her. “My ketchup is almost gone!”

What can you do with this to get your own creative juices going? Some ideas are:

  • Create a beginning and then go back to work. Pull this out when you need another brain break and add more to it.
  • Make your brain break a shared experience. Start a silly story and send it to have a friend. Invite her to add to it and send it back. Add some, resend, repeat as often as necessary.
  • Working around other people? Create a silly story aloud for ten minutes a day. Maybe after lunch when it’s not always easy to get back to work.

It feels good to be silly. Laughing and giggling gets your endorphins flowing and you’ll be ready to jump back into your work. Caution: being silly for a few minutes might leave you so incredibly focused that you tune out your email inbox. Remember to check it at least once day.


Sara Marchessault is a writer, publisher, teacher, and mom who is on a mission to increase joy on the planet. Through the practice of self-reflection, we become aware of what brings us joy and what does not, and we make choices to move forward or stand still. Journal writing is a powerful reflection tool that can help any of us move forward, even in the darkest of times. For ideas on how you can get the benefits of journal writing without always keeping a traditional journal, check out Sara’s book, Beyond Pen & Paper: 33 Experiments in Journaling.

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