Think about the most productive people you know. Do they work non-stop for hours on end? It's likely they don't.
A lot of people make the false assumption that being productive means keeping your head down and moving from one task to the next without taking a break. There are plenty of studies that show how this approach to work can have a negative impact on performance.Breaks have a seemingly uncanny way of making you more focused and productive. Read on to discover how and why you should start taking your breaks more seriously.
3 Ways Taking Regular Breaks Can Boost Performance
1. Physical Movement Can Stimulate Your Brain
An increase in blood flow and oxygen to the brain keeps you alert and focused. Our bodies are not designed to be stationary for long periods of time (outside of sleep, of course). It's important to get up out of your desk and move around throughout the workday.
2. Breaks Keep You Focused
It might sound contradictory, but taking a break can improve your productivity. Since your brain can only stay focused for so long, once you lose that focus your performance on the tasks at hand can drop. By stepping away from your desk--even if just for a few minutes--you're allowing your brain to recharge.
3. Breaks Keep Creative Juices Flowing
Working for too long can put stress on your brain and hinder its natural ability to seek new solutions. 'Light bulb' moments are more likely to hit you during a break, according to research.
How Often Should You Take A Break?
The frequency with which you step away from your desk will depend on a couple of things. First, your workplace and how management monitors employees. Second, what works best for you. There are several different methods you can use to manage how you take your breaks. This article from Buffer explains the various types of breaks you can incorporate into your workflow, but here are the options:
- Once every hour
- Pomodoro Method
- Every 90 minutes
- 52-17 Method
Just choose the method that works well for you and your workplace.
What Exactly Should You Do on Your Break?
Meditation offers many benefits that go beyond refreshing your mind. It can help give you a new perspective on a difficult situation or problem, help relieve stress, and keeps you focused on the present.
As mentioned above, physical activity gets the blood flowing and increases oxygen to your brain. Even if you don't have time (or access) to a fitness center, go for a walk around the office building.
Help a coworker
Helping someone will give you a sense of comfort and increase positive feelings.
Reading for a little bit on your break provides an avenue of escape for your mind and really forces you to forget what problems you're trying to solve.
Even if it means grabbing a quick snack or beverage from the office vending machines, keeping yourself fueled is essential to staying focused.
According to research, "doodling can help people stay focused, grasp new concepts and retain information."
There are many benefits to taking a midday nap. Even just a quick ten-minute nap is an effective way to recharge your batteries.
Do you regularly take breaks throughout the workday? Does it help you accomplish more?