The science of effective breaks


Have you ever observed that the longer you worked on a particular task, the more you keep losing your focus?

A 2011 study from researchers at the University of Illinois found that attentional resources decline when you perform a single task for an extended period. But that study also found that taking short breaks from a task allows you to better sustain focus and concentration over time.

Most of us have a wrong assumption about productivity. We think that the secret to being productive is to push yourself until you’ve checked off every task on your to-do list.

But working in such a manner is not the best way of being productive!

If you want to get more skilled work done throughout your working hours then you need to step down and take a BREAK

It may sound contradictory how can taking a break from work can get your work done more effectively.

Why take a BREAK?

Being productive is not about finishing all the given tasks, it’s about finishing your tasks well!

And to get things done well, you need to break the monotony! You need to take a break and focus back so that you can concentrate and work more effectively.

An extended period of work stress can take a toll on your mental as well as physical health.

Taking a break can reset, restore, lower stress hormones, improve decision-making skills, improve creativity

Photo credit: Invoiceberry

Signs you need a break

To stay productive all through your day, you should be able to handle the workload and stress effectively. Our body is made to handle small chunks of stress. But when the stress is repeated and prolonged — the situation can go out of control and can result in chronic stress leading to serious health issues.

Everybody reacts to stress differently, which differs the signs of being overwhelmed by stress are also different.

However, there are certain signs which need immediate downtime. If you are experiencing these signs, then you gotta take a BREAK!

  • Irregular meal time
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Getting sick more frequently
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low mood
  • Frustration
  • Feeling unfocused or fuzzy-headed
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches
  • Poor performance at work

How to take a break

Now that you are ready to take a break, but not sure where to start? I am hereby sharing the four methods of taking a break. Now, these break timings are not a waste of your working hours! They will surely help you work more efficiently and get more and more productive!

1. The Pomodoro Method

It is a time management system that encourages you to work with the time you have — rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as Pomodoros.

  1. Get a to-do list and a timer.
  2. Set your timer for 25 minutes, and focus on a single task until the timer rings.
  3. When your session ends, mark off one Pomodoro and record what you completed.
  4. Then enjoy a five-minute break.
  5. After four Pomodoros, take a longer, more restorative 15–30 minute break.
Image — The pleexy blog

2. The 90-minute burst method

Need a bigger period to complete your task? Then this 90 minutes chunk method is for you!
It is said that the brain can focus on a particular task for 90–120 minutes before it takes a rest.
Try to work for a stretch of 90 minutes to maximize your chances of productivity as it matches with our body's natural rhythms.

3. Two 15-minute breaks per day

If your work schedule doesn’t allow you to take proper breaks, then you can consider this simplest method of break.
Consider blocking a 15-minute session break twice a day.
Mostly one in the mid-morning and another in the late afternoon.
Researchers have pinpointed the least-productive time of day as around 3 p.m.
So you shouldn’t skip that break!

4. The 52–17minute break

This method is a combination of Pomodoro and a 90-minute burst break.
As per a study, the most productive people work for 52 minutes at a time, then break for 17 minutes before getting back to it.

Don’t fear downtime, give yourself the break you need to be your most productive self!Taking a break is an essential part of increasing your productivity. You don’t need to work like a robot.
So now that you know how breaks can scale up your productivity and how to make use of your breaks then what’s left to do?Make sure you take out some time for little breaks and watch your productivity skyrocket as a result.

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