How to Take Breaks at Work the Right Way

How to take breaks at work the right way

How to take breaks at work the right way

Nothing feels better than ticking one task after another off your to-do list. Once you get into a rhythm, there’s no stopping you.

But what happens when your productivity starts to slow down? Do you push through it? Or do you take a break? A lot of people feel that being busy is the only way to get things done – that taking a break means you are lazy. But taking a break can actually increase your productivity levels. Yes, it’s true.

When done the right way, breaks can help you return to your desk feeling refreshed, focused, and ready. Here are a few tips for how to take the kind of breaks at work that will set your productivity on fire!

Work in short bursts with tiny, built-in breaks

You may be one of the millions of people who work better in short bursts punctuated with frequent, short breaks. If so, you could be a perfect candidate for the Pomodoro Method. This is the technique in which you set a timer for 25 minutes and work energetically, without distractions until the timer goes off.

At that time, you will re-set the timer for 5 minutes and take your break. When the timer goes off again, you can return to work and repeat the cycle.

Work in longer blocks with longer breaks

While the Pomodoro method works wonders for some, others find that the frequent breaks cause too many distractions and make that it’s too difficult to return to their cubicle and pick up where they left off.

In this case, it is better to work in focused blocks of time. The blocks, according to a recent survey, should be no longer than 90 minutes. The reason for this has to do with our body’s natural cycles of sleep and productivity.

With the 90-minute cycle, studies have shown that our focus and productivity will peak around the 45-minute mark. This allows for an incredibly focused, uninterrupted time of concentration that will allow us to push through and achieve measurable progress on our tasks – something that can also help with motivation.

Once the 90-minute block is complete, it is critical that you take a complete break from the work at hand. At least 20-minutes is optimum. This will give your mind enough time to relax, provided you do something unrelated to your work during your break.

For example, if you normally work at a computer screen, you will feel a greater benefit from this method if you get away from your desk and your computer during your break.

Go for a walk 

Most people can walk at least one mile in 20 minutes. Walks are a great way to give your brain a break. The physical activity is beneficial for your health, and fresh air does your brain a world of good.

Studies have shown that creativity and memory are boosted by short strolls. Over time, scientists claim that walks can help fight the cognitive decline that happens as we age.

Chat with coworkers

The age-old tradition of standing around the water cooler is actually more productive than you might imagine. Sharing a little laughter and conversation can alleviate stress and take your mind off of your work – both key elements of a successful break.

The challenge with this option is to keep conversation away from any work-related subjects, as talking about work won’t give your brain the rest it needs. And then, of course, make sure you return to your work when your 20 minutes is up.

Meditate or nap

These two options may meet with some resistance, at first. Most people find the concept of meditating or napping during work hours completely foreign to their work ethic.

Research on the brain, though, has shown that meditation is highly effective and beneficial to our health and wellbeing. It has also been shown to increase creativity, which makes it an ideal break activity.

Likewise, after short 10-20 minute naps, reaction times increase, fatigue dissipates and cognitive function increases.

Taking advantage of one or more of these little tricks will certainly make you a more productive worker. The bonus is that it could lead to you getting greater enjoyment out of your work – making you an even happier person.

By: Kelly Smith

Kelly Smith is Content Manager at Career FAQs, Australia’s leading portal on online learning and career resources. She is interested in new tech solutions and self-improvement ideas.