Sometimes it seems impossible to take breaks at work. Maybe you have a deadline to cover or a project to complete. Anything at work which is building enough pressure to keep forcing yourself to work non-stop.
But it’s not doing you any good. In fact, it’s not even making you more productive but the opposite. Research by the University of Illinois in 2011 found that After a long period of concentrating on a single task, the human brain’s attentional resources deprive, reducing our ability to concentrate and hindering results. “When faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task,” said lead researcher professor Alejandro Lleras.
While there is different legal break time on different companies—20 minutes, 30 minutes and so on and many companies seems to believe that this is enough. However, workplace-centered studies are finding that breaks are important for employee productivity. Making many companies rethink sticking to minimum legal breaks at work and adding their break policies.
Therefore, it’s debatable that how long the break should last. For example, the Pomodoro technique offers you a break every 25 minutes and this technique is quite popular with students. The scientist also suggests taking a break after every 52 minutes or 90 minutes.
However, one thing is certain: taking breaks at work will get you more work done. And it’s not just about productivity but there are many benefits of enjoying regular and well-timed breaks. Here are some of the benefits worth mentioning.
1. Breaks at Work makes you Creative
“Never taking a break from very careful thought work actually reduces your ability to be creative,” says Kimberly Elsbach, a management professor at the University of California, Davis. “It sort of exhausts your cognitive capacity and you’re not able to make the creative connections [that] you can [make] if your brain is more rested.
If you’re skipping lunch to continue to push forward in a very intense cognitive capacity, then you’re probably not doing yourself any favors.” Giving your brain time to rest and recharge – just as an athlete would allow their body to rest after a race or training session – will energize you for the next task ahead.
Therefore, taking a break offers you a fresh start. When you come back to work after a nice break, you are full of new ideas and perspectives. If you were stuck with some problems, you might find the solutions as your creative juices will start flowing again.
2. Breaks at Work give you Innovative Solutions
Our brain mainly works in two functioning states, focused and diffused. When functioning in diffused mode, our brain is rather relaxed, a sort of daydreaming state, wandering freely and making connections at random. While the studies show that both types of mental states might help you to solve the problem, the diffused one will help you connect the dots of some of the most challenging problems.
Remember the time when you got a really good startup idea while you were simply walking or taking a shower. It happens because our diffuse state works best when we are doing things, other than working. This happens because your brain is relaxed and can work best for coming up with innovative or creative ideas.
Therefore, next time when you need a creative solution for something, take a break from work. Just wander around and enjoy not doing anything. You might get a genius solution.
3. Breaks at Work helps you Focus on the Target Goal
Let’s say that you’re constantly working on multiple high-stressed works. Or maybe you’re trying to multitask to get the job done quickly. Whichever it is, one thing is very clear. Your ultimate task is something else for which you are multitasking or stressing out but you’re not able to reach that ultimate task.
You’re not able to focus on the bigger picture and this is taking you even more time to finish your tasks. It can happen with anybody, freelancers or full-timers. Therefore, taking a break is extremely beneficial here.
When you take a break, you are more relaxed to think about your priorities. You will be able to clear the fog and focus on your main target, hence the bigger picture.
4. Breaks at Work help you Build a Healthier Lifestyle
When you’re working all the time without giving yourself proper rest, you’re making it easy to fall for an unhealthy lifestyle. You avoid getting proper sleep, a healthy diet, and physical exercise. It often starts from small but slowly builds up until you can’t escape the bad choices.
Therefore taking proper breaks from work is essential for maintaining your physical and mental health. Now it’s upon you to decide the best schedule for maintaining work and rest balance especially if you’re a freelancer or you just work from home. But whatever time you decide, try to pack the good habits within the intervals. For example. Taking some time to cook your healthy meal is going to make your body and mind nourished for the whole day. The focus here is to get something healthy rather than munching on chips.
Eating healthy is just one habit that you can incorporate. When you take breaks at work, you can manage to get physical exercise and even take 20-minute naps. All these things will help you clear the head. As a result, you get an uncluttered mind, fresh perspective, and improved productivity.
5. Breaks at work makes you More Productive
Establishing a proper break schedule will also provide you to track your tasks and to-do list, which will help you to complete a task more accurately. All of the advantages of taking frequent breaks that we’ve already mentioned make you more productive.
While taking breaks and resting doesn’t sound like getting more work done. But frankly, it’s kind of paradoxical. When you spend good time cooking, getting fresh air, having self-time and so, you are preparing yourself to be more efficient when you get back to work.
It is one of the oldest myths that working more makes you more productive but the truth is that taking well-planned rest from your work makes you productive.
Most of the time it’s not our fault, it’s the nature of our work that makes us push the boundaries. Sometimes we want to get ahead in our career, sometimes it’s because of the competition and sometimes we are just trying to do more.
Whether or not you’re doing it consciously, you’re hurting yourself in the long run. Long working hours, poor sleep, and unhealthy food choices are not going to make you more successful. Burnout is not the synonym for productivity.
Therefore, plan to take suitable breaks at work. All the benefits we mentioned should be more than enough to help you motivate. And in the end, you would still be able to achieve your goals without sacrificing your personal life.