Want to be Productive? Take Scheduled Microbreaks

July 17, 2015

11:00 am

One of the known secrets of highly productive people is taking breaks. They know that taking breaks is part of maintaining sustainable energy throughout the day. Research shows strong correlation between the health of the workforce and their corresponding productivity. Power naps in the afternoon are known also to boost productivity. A quick nap of 30 minutes or less would be most beneficial to boost productivity especially during the difficult hours after the lunch break.

Image Credit: Flickr/ Hipnos

Taking breaks could also be in the context of taking vacations. All of us have paid leaves but some people don’t utilize them. That’s a bad move and that can mean lesser productivity. Taking a vacation replenishes job performance, while not taking vacations mean more mistakes and resentment towards colleagues. So take the time off your company gives you. You’ll do yourself a favor and them as well as a result of your increased productivity upon your return from your vacation.

The formula for maximum productivity

productivity breaksIn fact, scientists have found a formula for maximum productivity at work. Work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes. Or on an hourly basis, work for 45 minutes, and then take a 15-minute break.

Even micro breaks (of less than 5 minutes) can have significant boosts of productivity. This infographic shows that taking regular breaks of 1.5 minutes can increase your productivity by 6.45 percent. Therefore, a quick walk to the bathroom or to the pantry to get some water can be a quick way to boost productivity. Apparently, 2:55 pm is the most unproductive time for workers, so this can be one of the times you can take a microbreak.

The pomodoro technique is a simple system to follow to make sure you have regular breaks. A pomodoro consists of a 25 minute work interval of intense focus and productivity and then taking a 5 minute break after that interval. You can use a normal watch for this task or you can download an app for this.

Don’t suffer a burnout

brain healthOur brain has a limited capacity to focus and by not taking a break, our brains can be overwhelmed and so we end up suffering a burnout which totally destroys productivity. So taking breaks is one way to replenish our brain’s capacity to do productive work.

Another benefit of taking breaks is a cognitive one. Researchers from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign assert that taking breaks provides goal reactivation. This means after we take a break, we refresh our minds on what we are trying to achieve and so we remain focused on the task at hand which contributes to productive work. By not taking breaks, we might lose sight of our overall objective.

Get outside

outsideAnother good break to take on a regular basis is by taking a walk. Even better if it’s in a park or it involves Mother Nature. Walking helps boost creativity and refocus after the quick walk.

It’s important we don’t fall into the ‘busy trap’. We need to carve out regular breaks in our working time to recharge. It may seem you’re taking one step back when you take breaks, but actually you’re taking three steps forward after each break.

 

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Jonha Richman is a startup marketing advisor with over 9 years of experience developing digital media strategies for FMCG and tech companies. Her works have been featured on The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Lifehack and Fast Company, among others.

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