Short Breaks for Health and Productivity
I talk to people all the time about how they can get more done in their busy working day. How they can be more productive and efficient with their time. However, part of this also includes the importance of taking regular breaks during the day.
When you’re busy at work, you’ll often end up working right through lunch break or not stopping until the end of the day. Perhaps only taking a quick 5-10 minutes to grab a sandwich and eat it at your desk. Some days you don’t even have time for a coffee.
You’re simply too busy to take a break. There’s so much you’ve got to do. You can squeeze one more task into 5, 10, 30 minutes and get another thing ticked off your list? You don’t have time to stop.
Taking regular short breaks will actually increase your productivity. The longer you work on a task, the more your productivity drops. You lose focus and are more easily distracted. Some people get distracted more easily and more often than others, especially when it’s not something that totally engages their attention.
Take a break once an hour for a few minutes and then a longer break every 2-3 hours or so. Ideally a 5 minute break every 20-25 minutes is better and more productive. If you set a timer to manage your work/break activity, you’ll stay focused for longer and be less distracted when you know the clock is ticking.
Switching between a longer high intensity task to a shorter, easier task can be an effective way of taking a break between one task and the next.
Avoid skipping lunch. You need to make sure you take a lunch break and get away from your desk. Apart from the hazard of crumbs (or worse a spilt drink) in the keyboard you need to refuel and recharge. You might run on caffeine, sugary snacks and adrenalin for a short period of time but it’s not good for your health in the longer term
When you take a break – not only will you be more productive when you get back to work, you’ll have more energy (unless you’ve had a carb heavy lunch) but it’s allows your brain to switch off mentally too.
Taking a break – particularly if you’re working on a problem or something tricky allows different parts of your brain to kick in to gear. How often have you found the solution to a problem when you’re doing something completely different? Think Archimedes’Eureka’ moment, Newton’s apple and gravity.
The longer you work, the more tired you become and the less productive you are. Working late nights catching up or clearing a backlog when you’re tired becomes less and less productive and the task takes longer and longer to complete.
Recognise your more productive times of the day. Most people focus better in the morning. Do tasks that need creativity or problem solving in the morning and save tasks that need less concentration or focus for later in the day or between more high intensity tasks.
Stop before you get over-tired, take a decent break and come back refreshed. Or at least make sure you get time to recharge after periods of high intensity.
Everyone needs to put in the hours every now and then but even when you’re working long hours, take regular breaks to keep your productivity and energy up.
If you’re so busy you can’t see how you can find the time to take a break – get in touch. It might be easier than you think.