Smoking is one of the filthiest and unhealthiest habits that have formed in the human race. Ironically though it has developed one of the healthiest byproducts from a work-place performance and productivity point-of-view.

I don’t know how many times I have shaken my head seeing the same person outside having a smoke break for the 5th or 6th time for the day. I wonder what their boss thinks and also how much money they would save if they didn’t smoke?

The one thing that I admire about the filthy habit of smoking is the psychological and physiological wellness byproducts that occur because of it:

  • Taking regular 5-10min breaks from focusing on a computer screen or a task every 60-90minutes.
  • Getting up, moving and walking to a space where smoking is allowed.
  • Breathe control commonly used when smoking with long and deliberate slow breathes.
  • Day-dreaming and switching off work that occurs when smoking.
  • Social aspect of chatting with another smoker.
  • De-stressing component of controlling your breath and switching off your work.

These are all very healthy activities for your mind and body, to improve productivity, performance and reduce burnout, but they are as a result of a habit that has many major negative effects on a person.

Now, I need to be very clear that I am 100% against people smoking, and think it should be banned from society. I had one puff of a cigarette when I was a teenager, and I never had another one in the rest of my life. Personally I can’t stand the smell, it had an effect on me as an asthmatic to be around it, and I struggle to see how people make the choice to destroy their lungs and exponentially increase their chances of attracting cancer.

So the big question is:

What can we substitute for the filthy habit of smoking that will provide employees in the workplace the same psychological and physiological benefits as noted above?

I have thought about this, spoken to colleagues, asked former smokers and none of them can find a substitute that is as effective at combining all aspects of byproducts listed above. Using a mobile phone, having a coffee, going for a walk, reading a magazine or doing meditation don’t create the same effect.

So the challenge is for you to either find the ultimate solution or commence small activities that can gradually improve your productivity and performance.

Before we go onto techniques to improve your workplace productivity and performance, I would like to highlight some of the negative aspects of smoking and how they easily negate the positive benefits they get from the activity of taking smoking breaks:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Smelly hair and clothes
  • Unhealthy teeth
  • Bronchitis
  • Smokers cough
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Infertility
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Blood clots
  • Early menopause
  • Poor vision
  • Dull sense of taste and smell
  • Lung cancer
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellow fingers
  • Cervical cancer
  • Wrinkly skin
  • Problems with pregnancy and new born implications
  • Higher rate of mouth, throat, bladder, blood and kidney cancers

I know from experience that I perform at my best when I take regular breaks, and have lunch away from the office, with friends, have fun and discuss non-work topics. What is interesting is that studies show only 20 to 33% of employees take a lunch break, and of those who take a break many still eat at their desk while working.

Research has shown that the more hours that elapsed before a break the less energized and the more symptoms of poor health. It has also indicated that breaks are most effective when they are taken before they’re needed. It all comes down to planning, just like a marathon runner who develops their training plan with a balance of workouts and recovery.

Taking a break recharges the batteries, so to speak, prevents long-term stress and burnout, which have negative effects on your health and performance. Breaks can replenish the psychological costs associated with working hard, improve work performance, and boost energy.

The positive effects of taking regular, short and frequent breaks include:

  • More stamina
  • Fewer aches & pains
  • Less headaches and eyestrains
  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Reduced emotional exhaustion
  • Increased concentration levels
  • Improved motivation
  • Enhanced energy
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve mental acuity
  • Increase alertness

Sometimes a little distraction is good for your brain. Psychological detachment, by shifting our focus, helps us to directly reduce work demands that are causing fatigue and to naturally recover. It also prevents us from getting bored and losing focus on the tasks that really matter.

The following activities are great for detachment:

  • meditation to clear the mind and focus on relaxation
  • physical activity to increase blood flows to the areas of the brain that are necessary for focus or attention
  • learning something new or playing a game to improve confidence and boost motivation
  • help out a colleague as it helps social connectedness, feel comforting and positive
  • Set a new goal and think about the future to see the bigger picture and re-evaluate life in a positive way
  • Fun and the influence of humour on persistence behaviour

Without any downtime to refresh and recharge, we’re less efficient, make more mistakes, and get less engaged with what we’re doing. Taking a few deep breathes, stretching and standing, and taking a 20 second gaze break are simple activities that allow you to regain focus and to improve your energy so you can complete the task at hand.

In the next article we will take a look at productivity boosting activities and break methods that you can use during your breaks to recharge.


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Craig Johns Flatline Break The CEO Code ATOMIC PRESSURE High Performance Leadership


Do you find yourself over tired, exhausted or underperforming during a day, week, month, year or even over your career? 

As humans, many of us work or perform back-to-back tasks until we are exhausted. If it’s physical we notice the fatigue and generally stop earlier for a break, however if it’s mental fatigue we tend to go a lot longer allowing our performance to drop to quite low levels. 

For example with the world turning more to online meetings with the advance of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are finding themselves in more back-to-back meetings and periods of focused work without breaks. Previously we would get a break walking or driving between meetings, going somewhere to each lunch or would find ourselves in conversation with others. Now, it’s more common for people to remain at there computer and switch from one piece of focused work to another, while eating (if they remember) in the go.

Have you noticed how, as humans, we are very good at adapting to a gradual change in state and we don’t realize that our performance has dropped until it’s too late (sick, exhausted or react negatively)? 

I will be first to put my hand up and say, I pushed too hard and over did it as an Athlete, employee and CEO. I even flatlined in hospital when thinking I was invincible and could keep working harder and longer in the false hope that I was being a high performer. 

“Have you ever over done it in your life, for all the right reasons?”


To perform at our best we need to proactively balance periods of focused work with rest or recovery. In Break The CEO Code we focus on energy management, starting with a 3:1 Work to Recovery ratio and modifying the ratio depending on the intensity of work. Called CEO Periodization, we use the ratio of 3:1, which is consistent with recent research conducted by the Microsoft Human Factors Lab, athlete performance literature, military protocols and a number of other work performance related studies. 

The research shows that after 45-60min of sustained focused work, our performance starts to decline. It will be less time if the physical or mental intensity of the work is greater than normal and the recovery time needed will be much greater. What is interesting is that it takes approximately 15-20min of recovery or rest to return the energy and performance back to high levels. 

Example if you have a meeting or focused work for 45min then you need 15min recovery or rest to return to a high performance state. 

So, what is the difference between rest and recovery?

REST is the absence of activity or movement.

Sleep, mindfulness, meditation and even exercise are great examples of rest that can reduce the mind activity. However if you want to rest the body as well, then you would exclude exercise or activity that is physical in nature. 

RECOVERY is a proactive restorative approach to bring the mind and body back to balance or lift to a better state. 

Meditation, hobbies, exercise, massage, yoga, comedy, change of location, getting fresh air, walking in nature, eating healthy food, staying hydrated and many other activities can increase the restorative  process of recovery. 

How can we proactively incorporate breaks in our day?

It’s important that we define what a break is to us. It could still be doing work, however it would need to be low cognitive in nature to help with the restoratative process. 

Any recovery or rest approach is beneficial when applied effectively. You just need to find what works for you and implement it proactively. If you are finding yourself feeling depleted as the week goes on, then you haven’t got the balance right. 

The mind and body will partake in restorative processes while still working or doing some form of activity. The higher the workload, stress load and intense focus, the less restoration that can occur and the result is lower performance as the breakdown exceeds restoration in our mind and body. 

This happens when athletes breakdown due to physical/mental stress overload. In workers they can experience burnout or other mental/physical health issues if the long term loading is excessive. For parents, it could be “snapping” at our children as the pressure boils over. 

High Performance or sustaining a high level of performance throughout a day, week, month, year or career requires energy management. 

It’s important that we manage our energy proactively rather than reactively. 

Scheduling your recovery and energy in your diary before scheduling meetings and periods of focused work, is a great proactive approach. 

How can you structure your meetings and work so that you can sustain a high level of energy and performance?


People Are Our Greatest Assets Link
It’s All About Trust Link
Have We Got The Hiring Process Totally Wrong? Link
Are You Leading A High Performing Culture? Link
Are Leaders Born? Link
It’s Your Story Link
Be A Rookie Link


Craig Johns SPEAKER
Craig Johns BLOG
Return to HOME

Savvy Dentist Podcast Craig Johns Atomic Pressure

Savvy Dentist Podcast – Business Lessons from Sporting Legends with Craig Johns

Atomic pressure, the gap between excellent and elite, why Michael Phelps and the All Blacks sustain enduring success, CEO Periodization, planning a career sabbatical, and what it takes to follow your own race in sport, business and in life.

I must say, this podcast is right up there as one of my favorite interviews. Enjoy also getting an insight into how I approach sport as an elite athlete and coach. Thanks Jesse.

Learn the steps you need to take to become an elite performer in your field. Craig Johns, a high performance leadership expert, coach and speaker shares his expertise on this subject today. Craig has been involved in the sporting industry for many years and is able to see potential and help people fulfil their potential. Today, Craig unpacks the steps that are relevant and applicable for you in your dental practice to help you achieve extraordinary results.  

  • [02:16] The story of how Craig came into the sporting industry. 
  • [08:34] Observations around the gap between excellent and elite. 
  • [11:29] Focusing on your own race and goals and improving those instead of other peoples’ races. 
  • [14:15] Explaining the gap between excellent and elite. 
  • [16:30] How to manage performing under pressure. 
  • [19:22] Definition of success and the role it plays in performance. 
  • [21:43] Creating flow of elite performance at a team level. 
  • [25:12] Enduring success rather than fleeting success. 
  • [28:11] The biggest difference between sport and business. 
  • [31:49] Craig’s advice for achieving long term success. 
  • [40:00] Thoughts on how a sabbatical can be achieved for business owners. 

Listen to the Podcast Interview