Most of us spend our workdays sitting at our desks, being chained to our cubicles, straining our eyes in front of the computer screen and then wondering why we have a nagging pain in our neck and shoulders. We assume that taking breaks at work would put us behind the rest, especially at a time when “Being Busy” is glorified. In the pursuit of achieving a good standing at our workplaces, we work overtime and agree to take on extra work when in reality this “Hard work” mentality is not just ineffective but also unhealthy.
By not taking adequate breaks from work, your productivity, mental well-being and overall work performance may begin to suffer. Overworking often leads to stress and burnout. In the middle of chaos, we don’t realize how draining it gets until we are out of it. Stepping out of the chaos of the workday not only gives our minds but also all our other senses a much-needed break. Taking adequate breaks during the workday drastically improves focus. We are not supercomputers that can run continuously at a high speed for a long duration.
The Pomodoro Technique, the world-renowned time management tool invented by Francesco Cirillouses, uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Our brains need some downtime so that we can dive back to achieve greater focus.
So how do breaks at work help our brain?
- A small diversion once an hour can boost our productivity. We tend to lose concentration when working longer durations.
- It’s generally difficult to find time for physical activities like walking or running while working from morning to night. Physical movements like getting up from your desk will help improve your circulation and keep your brain functioning.
- Better retention of information.
- Ensures that not only your physical but even your mental well-being is taken care of.
- Helps you manage your stress more effectively. When you step away and allow yourself to recharge and truly relax, your stress levels are bound to come down.
- Breaks reveal to you all kinds of creative ideas, that can be implemented at your workplace.
- Taking your eyes away from the computer screen for 15 minutes every 2 hours will keep your eyes healthy.
Choosing what you do in your break time is also of utmost importance. A break where you are gulping down cups of caffeine or venting about a problem is hardly beneficial. It only adds to your fatigue. An effective break should leave you with a sense of positivity. For breaks to be effective, there needs to be a refreshing change of pace that allows you to escape work, even if it’s just for a short time.
- Take a walk. A few minutes stroll increases blood flow to the brain and helps you clear your head as well as boost your creative thinking process.
- Find time to doodle. Doodling can stimulate new ideas and help you stay focused.
- Make time to exercise. Exercise builds up your stamina, gives you more energy and helps you gain focus.
- Make sure you take your lunch breaks away from your work station. A lunch break not only kills your hunger, but the right choice of food like vegetables, fish, and nuts fill you up without making you feel sluggish.
- Meditate. It not only lowers stress levels but also improves overall health and creativity.
- Keep a novel or a non-work book handy, which you can read from during your short breaks.
- Pen down something, poems, short-stories, your feelings or the things you are grateful for. It doesn’t necessarily have to be great, but it will relax you and put you at ease.
- Step outside to give a call to your family member or friend. Ask them about their day, they will appreciate it.
- Get connected with nature. Fresh air increases productivity, decreases stress and alleviates our mood.
When you plan your day and more specifically the time you have, switching between work and breaks will come to you naturally. You’ll be able to judge what to work on when and will have clear boundaries for work time and downtime. Breaks reboot your brain and help you to dive back in with greater focus.