Enthusiastic workers often think that working hard for long stretches is undoubtedly the best way to be productive.
However, there have been over 93 studies on the effects of work breaks on productivity and personal well-being over the past 30 years, and most of these studies have shown that taking frequent breaks makes you feel better and perform better at your job.
Why Does Taking Breaks Increase Productivity?
Your brain needs time to rest and rejuvenate, particularly if you’re performing a job that requires intense concentration. By taking a break from time to time, you can re-energize, get back your focus, and really let those creative juices flow.
Beyond productivity benefits, you should find that taking frequent breaks leaves you feeling more optimistic, rested, and ready to face the next challenge. Taking breaks allows you to better balance your work obligations with your personal needs.
How Often Should I Take Breaks?
Again, much research has been done on the optimum break strategy. A study that measured worker productivity found the ideal work-to-break ratio was 52 minutes of work followed by 17 minutes of rest. This might be tough to keep track of, so you may want to round it to a 15-minute break after every hour of work.
If your job requires you to work for more than an hour at a time, or you feel you can concentrate 100% on your activity for longer, you can stretch this to 90 minutes of work with a 15-minute rest, as advised by Harvard Business Review.
And, nothing is stopping you from taking an impromptu break when things have just gotten too much for you and you need a moment to regroup. If you’re overly stressed, your work quality will suffer anyway, so take your breaks early if you need to.
Making the Most of Your Breaks
When your break time comes around, don’t let it slide because something has come up. There are very few things that can’t wait a few more minutes.
Generally, we advise stepping away from your devices if you can. Disconnect entirely from your work, or you won’t give your body time to refill your mental and physical resources. Social media can be a quick way to get some socialization into the mix, but don’t let it dictate how you spend your entire break time.
It’s best to get the blood flowing, so take the opportunity to get up from your desk and get a little exercise. This might be as simple as heading to the kitchen to rehydrate or a few stretches. If you have the know-how, a short yoga session can supercharge your recovery efforts, allowing you to return to peak performance in no time.
Keep yourself fed and hydrated with healthy snacks you’ve prepared beforehand. If you portion out these healthy treats in advance, it’s just another thing your poor, tired mind doesn’t have to think about during its well-earned break.
Better Breaks for a Healthy, Productive Work Life
The most successful people in the world always make time for frequent, efficient, powerful breaks so that they can remain 100% focused during their 60-90-minute work sessions. If you do this too, you’ll perform at your best while remaining healthy and happy at work.