I used to think taking a full lunch break, or any other sort of break for that matter was a complete waste of time – I could be working, I could be achieving something! However, after researching the topic and through my own personal experience I have found that taking a break helps your productivity, allows you to gain new perspective on the task at hand, and overall enables you to produce better quality of work. A break gives you the ability to step away from your piece of work/or project and think ‘am I doing this in the best way I can?’
After my research, I have found that I am not making the most productive use of my day through regular breaks, and I am sure many of you are not either. According to a study by Staples, 66% of employees spend more than 8 hours at work, and more than a quarter do not take a break other than lunch.
We all should be taking a break every hour, even if only for 5 minutes. Nathaniel Kleitman* (Physiologist and sleep researcher) found that we work best having 90 minutes’ concentration followed by a 20-minute break.
More than that, we should be resting our brains through focussing on eating, meditation or going for a walk i.e. an activity that creates calm and not overly stimulating our brains.
Getting away from your desk, putting down that pen, and switching off, even for 5 minutes has been proven to help re-energise your brain, and help productivity.
If you can go for a short walk outside the office it is not only good for your work productivity but for your mental wellbeing, studies** have shown that this relieves stress, reduces fatigue and boosts your mood. According to research***, walking through green spaces may even put the brain in a state of meditation.
It does make sense; we have a break from physical exercise as we know our bodies need to recuperate when we tire. Well, why do we think our brain is any different?
It’s easy to do…
- Step away from your phone, desk, computer – put down that pen!
- Move to a part of the office with less stimuli (no people, somewhere tranquil), or even better go outside for a walk
- No thoughts about what you are doing next, clear your brain – RELAX
- Shake it off, then get back to work
Just try it, and I am sure you will feel more productive and have more energy – I most certainly did!
* Kleitman, N., Basic rest-activity cycle—22 years later, Journal of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicine, Vol 5(4), Dec 1982, 311-317
***Heriot-Watt University in the U.K., study published in the British Journal of Sports medicine.